Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Opposition newspapers seized - Malaysiakini

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIAN authorities have seized the latest editions of two opposition newspapers, increasing political tensions in the country, officials said on Wednesday.

Tempers have flared since last week when the National Front government took over the northern Perak state from the opposition after several of its lawmakers switched allegiance.

Tian Chua, information chief of the People's Justice Party, said at least 20,000 copies of the latest issue of the party's Suara Keadilan newspaper - which has a circulation of 150,000 - were seized since Tuesday from newsstands.

'I think this is the start of a major crackdown ... to restrict the free distribution of information,' he said.

Mohamad Rashidi Hassan, news editor of Harakah, the paper of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, said copies of the two latest editions were removed from stands, but he could not say how many were seized.

Harakah comes out twice a week and has a nationwide circulation of about 140,000.

'It is a politically motivated move by the government to block information to let people know what happened in Perak,' he said.

The People's Justice Party and the Democratic Action Party are in an opposition alliance that won Perak and four other states in general elections last year.

The alliance cried foul over the loss of Perak, saying the National Front should not have seized the government without proving its majority in the state assembly first. It has vowed to challenge the takeover in court.

A Home Ministry official confirmed there was an operation to seize the papers but declined to give further details because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Other officials could not immediately be reached. -- AP

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