Malaysia

Malaysiakini, FZ Daily denied print permits because they run sensational news, says Zahid

Putrajaya rejected the newspaper permit applications of online portals FZ Daily and Malaysiakini because they tend to publish "sensational and controversial news" to woo readers, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic).

He said the rejection of applications by publisher Edge Communications Sdn Bhd and portal operator Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd’s was an early measure to control the number of newspapers in the country.

"The rejection of applications for newspapers entitled FZ Daily and Malaysia Kini is an early step towards controlling the flood of daily publications that may confuse the people if there are too many news being run by all sorts of newspapers.

"They are seen as inclining towards publishing sensational and controversial news to attract readers' interest," he said in a written reply on Tuesday to Datuk Johari Abdul (PKR - Sungai Petani).

Zahid added the number of newspapers in circulation is sufficient, taking into account the number of readers in the country now.

Both Edge Communications and Mkini Dotcom have had long running battles with Putrajaya over the granting of publishing permits.

The Home Ministry last month rejected Edge Communications's application for a newspaper permit, according to Datuk Tong Kooi Ong.

The move came hours after a High Court allowed the company to challenge an earlier decision by the minister to defer the licence approval for FZ Daily.

The ministry had approved the licence for FZ Daily in August last year, but deferred the permission a week later.

The ministry did not respond to a letter seeking reasons why the application was deferred, leading Edge Communications to file a judicial review against the deferment of the licence approval.

On February 5, it was granted leave by the High Court to challenge the decision. However, hours later, the ministry in a letter dated January 21 said the application was rejected.

In October last year, the Court of Appeal dismissed the ministry and the government's appeal against a High Court judgment that Mkini Dotcom be issued a publication permit.

The company had applied for a permit to publish 40,000 copies in the Klang Valley, to be sold at RM1 a copy, but the home ministry rejected the application in August 2010.

Mkini Dotcom sought to quash the minister’s decision and obtain a declaration that the decision was unconstitutional. It named the ministry secretary-general, the home minister and the government as respondents.

It had submitted in court that the executive and the government must be fair in its approach, as this is protected under Article 8 (1) of the Federal Constitution (equality before the law).

Following the Court of Appeal's decision, Malaysiakini’s lawyers said they would be writing to the home minister to request for the newspaper permit. – March 27, 2014.

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