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Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on Thursday, 12th February 2009:

Right to information should be protected & promoted not violated

Seizing the Parti Keadilan Raakyat's bi-monthly organ Suara keadilan and PAS's Harakah newspaper are acts of political thuggery. It is also an attempt by the Home Ministry to control information that is made available to the people.

Both publications were confiscated from news stands for its content on the political fiasco in Perak. The people have a right to information. They are simply fed-up with the trash that is fed through local newspapers and television channels, which are primarily owned or linked to the ruling elite.

Issues relating to the political high drama and formation of an illegal Barisan Nasional government in Perak are matters of public interest. The people are crying foul over the coup which resulted in the overthrow of democratically elected state government. They have the right to know the truth.

I have been monitoring local news which are blatantly fashioned to portray UMNO/BN leaders as a group of patriots. But the people are not buying into their platitudes.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar must know that while he is transgressing on the freedom of the media, which is nothing new in Malaysia, his authoritarian strategies cannot stop people from reaching out to cyber space for alternative news.

I urge the government and Home Ministry to abandon its bully tactics and instead concentrate on the country's economy which is sliding fast. It will also be a grave mistake not to renew Suara Keadilan's publishing permit which is up for renewal in April.

* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang



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