Malaysia

Weekly The Heat suspended indefinitely by Home Ministry

BY JENNIFER GOMEZ AND HASBULLAH AWANG CHIK
December 19, 2013
Latest Update: December 20, 2013 07:02 am

The issue of 'The Heat' news weekly which is believed to have got its publishers into trouble with the Home Ministry. – December 19, 2013.The issue of 'The Heat' news weekly which is believed to have got its publishers into trouble with the Home Ministry. – December 19, 2013.News weekly The Heat has been suspended “indefinitely” by the Home Ministry, believed to be over a front-page article on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s expenditure, sources close to the publication said.

Senior editor-in-chief at HCK Media Chong Cheng Hai declined to comment when contacted.

However, this evening, The Ant Daily, which is in the HCK Media stable, confirmed the suspension.

A statement on its website said: "The Heat has ceased publication in compliance with a suspension order served by the Home Ministry. The news weekly will not be published on December 21 as scheduled.

"We will keep our readers, subscribers and advertisers updated on further developments through this website, and other channels.

"Subscribers will be compensated accordingly, through an automatic extension of their subscription period."

It is learnt that the weekly's reporters were informed about the suspension during an editorial meeting today.

When asked about the suspension of the weekly, Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he was not aware of it.

The weekly, which focuses on politics and socio-economic issues, had been issued a show-cause letter last week. Editor-in-chief David Lee Boon Siew had also been summoned to the Home Ministry in Putrajaya and told to tone down its reports.

The Malaysian Insider understands that although the show-cause letter did not specify the offending article, it was over a report entitled “All eyes on big-spending PM Najib” published in its November 23 to 29 issue.

It is believed that HCK Media, the publisher, had been given 14 days to reply to the show-cause letter.

Rosmah had recently come under fire from opposition lawmakers for using a government jet to attend a women's summit in Qatar last month.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim had said the Cabinet had approved Rosmah's use of the government jet, causing opposition MPs to accuse the Cabinet of acting irresponsibly and in an undignified manner.

Umno’s Pengerang MP Datuk Azalina Othman, who had accompanied Rosmah on the trip, later revealed in Parliament that it was Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who had chaired the Cabinet meeting that approved the use of the government jet for the trip, not Najib.

The issue was also raised at the recently concluded Umno general assembly where Federal Territory delegate Affandi Zahari defended her use of the aircraft.

“Rosmah's safety is paramount and if anything happened to her, it will only upset the prime minister.

"This involves the security of his wife. If anything happened to her, it will affect him emotionally," said Affandi.

In his winding-up speech at the general assembly, Najib sang Rosmah’s praises, highlighting two instances when Rosmah had helped Malaysia.

One was when she contacted the Egyptian president's wife to secure the release of a Malaysian student arrested on suspicion of being a spy.

The second incident was when Malaysian students were stranded in Egypt during the Arab uprising.

Najib said Rosmah had used her good relations with the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow the students to enter the country from Egypt although they did not have visas.

The Sarawak Tribune, an English-language newspaper published in Kuching, Sibu and Bintulu, in Sarawak, was indefinitely suspended in 2006 following controversy pertaining to the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy.

The newspaper, which was established in 1945, reappeared in 2010 as the New Sarawak Tribune.

The Star newspaper's licence was revoked in October 1987 at the height of the Ops Lalang during the tenure of then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The newspaper resumed publication in April 1988. – December 19, 2013.