The Edge publisher gets leave to challenge suspension

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(Aug 5): The Kuala Lumpur High Court today approved The Edge Media Group’s leave application to seek a judicial review of the Home Ministry's decision to suspend The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily for three months from July 27, 2015.

In a statement today, The Edge Media Group said the Court has yet to fix a date for the hearing of the judicial review.

“Our lawyers had also simultaneously filed an ex-parte application for an interim stay order to lift the Home Ministry’s suspension of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily.

“The Court declined an ad interim stay and directed that the stay application be heard inter-partes and has asked the Home Ministry to file an affidavit in response,” it added.

On July 27, 2015, the publisher of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily had filed the leave application and for the interim order to be heard on urgent basis.

The Home Ministry had on July 24, 2015 suspended the publishing permit of both publications for three months from July 27.

A letter from the ministry stated that the papers' coverage of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal was "prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion or is likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest".

High Court judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad delivered her ruling in chambers after hearing submissions from lawyers representing the publisher and the Home Ministry and the government.

Senior Federal Counsel Alice Loke told reporters that the court would hear on Aug 12, 2015 the publisher's application to stay the suspension pending the disposal of the judicial review.

Lawyers Darryl Goon, Raja Eileen Soraya Raja Aman and Joni Jacqueline Benedict appeared for the publisher.

This is the first time a publisher is seeking legal recourse following the suspension for its coverage of 1MDB.

Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim had on July 24, 2015 said the suspension of the publications was made after the ministry had scrutinised their reports on 1MDB and the reply to the show-cause letters issued earlier.

The ministry gave three reasons for suspending the publications, which it said, violated Section 7(1) of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984.

It said the headings and reporting by the two publications had raised questions and created negative public perceptions towards 1MDB, a Finance Ministry-owned firm.

The reports also implicated the government and national leaders, the ministry said.

Secondly, it also found the reports to be based on doubtful and unverified information, which it said might alarm public opinion and might be prejudicial to public order and national interest.

Thirdly, the ministry said the 1MDB issue is being investigated by a special task force and it was therefore inappropriate for reportage on the issue to create negative perceptions.