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April 18, 2008

Govt shuts down Indian daily

The Malaysian government has shut down an outspoken newspaper that catered to Malaysia's ethnic Indians, Kyodo news agency quoted an official of the newspaper as saying Thursday.

The Home Ministry rejected the application of Makkal Osai (People's Voice), an independent Tamil daily, for its printing permit to be renewed for another year, its general manager S M Periasamy told Kyodo News.

Under Malaysia's controversial Printing Presses and Publication Act, all domestic and foreign publications must apply annually to the government for a permit.

The 1984 act has long been criticized by rights groups and Western governments. They say the government's power over annual license renewal has created an atmosphere that inhibits independent or investigative journalism and results in extensive self-censorship.

But Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said the action was taken because the daily has breached "media guidelines."

"We have media guidelines and we do not simply cancel a publication permit. In the case of Makkal Osai, we do not cancel the permit but decided not to extend it," he was quoted saying by the official news agency Bernama.

Among the guidelines he said the daily flouted was that it has raised "sensitive issues that could threaten racial harmony and the country's stability," according to Bernama.

Besides Makkal Osai, there are two other Tamil dailies - Tamil Nesan and Malaysia Nanban - both of which are considered pro-government. Makkal Osai, launched in 1992, had a daily circulation of 52,000.

More on Malaysia


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