Dear friends this letter is for distribution to friends overseas.


Jawatankuasa Penyelaras

Bosses Group, Ex-ISA Detainees Group, Gabungan Rumah Panjang, Group of Concerned Citizens, Jawatankuasa Sokongan Peneroka Bandar, Majlis Graduan Malaysia, Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat, Womens Candidacy Initiative, SUARAM

c/o - 21 Jalan Muhibbah 8, Taman Muhibbah, 43000 Kajang, Selangor Tel-fax: 60-3-87378380

0r Tel: 6-03- 228 22511



September 29, 2000

An International Appeal:



We, the Peoples Manifesto Initiative , a coalition of 12 NGOs (from various sectors women workers, women, youth, urban poor, human rights, ex-political detainees, consumer, etc.) wish to appeal to all concerned citizens to participate with us protesting the banning of Al Wasilah and Ekslusif, both alternative and critical Malay publications. These publications were in existence since 1998 and 1999 respectively and they have been providing very critical, independent and alternative information and analysis of the various developments in the country.

These are non-political party, independent publications (daily newspaper as well as a monthly youth/womens magazines) that are critical of the Malaysian political scene, and they especially support the call for democratic political reform in Malaysia. Hence, they have become thorns in the flesh of the Malaysian government which, has increasingly violated the freedom of the press as well as restricting democratic space of the Malaysian people. We believe that the action of revoking of their publication licenses is a move of the ruling party to further its political agenda to suppress the voices of critics and dissidents.

Without an alternative to the information that is mainly provided by the government and its allies Malaysian citizens will not be able to make informed and rational judgment about the nation and government policies. Consequently a free press is crucial in ensuring that all voices can be heard by the citizens. These two publications have provided us with views that are critical to the mainstream Malaysian media.

Unfortunately such critical voices that are crucial in a democratic society are banned by the use of draconian laws such as the Printing, Presses and Publications Acts (PPPA). This Act allows the Home Ministry to revoke the license of any publications without having to be accountable for such decisions. We have seen how many publications that are linked to opposition parties have their permits revoked or are unable to get licenses in the first place. Clearly all legislation that allows the Executive to silence its critics has no place in a democracy.

All these attacks on press freedom and the media profession have been intensified since last January 2000, soon after the ruling party was returned to power again in a general election. We are strongly opposed to the curtailing of the freedom of expression, free flow of information and a free media being killed by the PPPA. We do not see any need for any permit to publish and print. This is the hallmark of a true democratic society. The silencing of critical voices and instilling fear in people will eventually lead to the flourishing of more corruption, nepotism, cronyism that is besetting this country. The press is not allowed to uncover scandals and corrupt practices that need to be exposed. This has resulted in the further impoverishment of marginalised and poor people whose livelihood has been threatened by the many mega projects that are being carried out by the crony capitalists of the government. At the same time the people are not able to hold the government accountable for its actions.

Hence, we are appealing to the international community that is concerned about the democratic

struggle and issues of social justice to lend your support in upholding the independence of a key democratic institution the media.


Hence we appeal to all concerned organizations or individuals to send protests letters to the Home Minister as well as the National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM). Your PROTEST is definitely very IMPORTANT to let the concerned bodies understand and be aware of how seriously the international community views undemocratic actions by the Malaysian government.

ENSURE that the peoples voices are being heard all the time and are not muzzled when attacked. Resist dictators everywhere.

Please send the protest letters (FAX or EMAIL) during this particular week: WEEK OF PROTEST : 2 - 7 Oct 2000.

Kindly send us a copy of your protest letters at :

Fax: 03- 87378380

Email: <> Or

All the news on the banning of Detik/Al Wasilah and Ekslusif is available at:


We enclose some sample protest letters for your information and use.

In Solidarity,

Irene Xavier

(Spokesperson, Peoples Manifesto Initiative)