Heralding an era of silencing dissent?

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Aliran condemns the Home Ministry’s recent action to reportedly cancel next year’s publishing permit of the Catholic multilingual weekly newspaper, The Herald, as it violates the principle of freedom of expression and of religion in the country. 

The serious implication of this reported cancellation is that the democratic right of a religious group to communicate with its own members through its religious organ has been denied and breached.

Equally worrying is that this move comes in the wake of the legal battle between the Catholic Church and the authorities over the use of the term ‘Allah’ in the weekly’s Malay language section. To be sure, the High Court case on 14 December has yet to be heard.

In this context, the reported cancellation of the permit not only is punitive but gives the impression that the Home Ministry does not tolerate dissent or any legal challenge to its decisions.

If the permit is revoked, it would deprive church members of one of the means of shaping their collective sense of belonging and fellowship. It would also  amount to a rejection of the right to communicate within the Catholic community and may be construed as denying Catholics their sense of belonging in the so-called 1Malaysia.


Dr Mustafa K Anuar
Hon Asst Secretary
13 November 2009

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