Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM – Malaysian People’s Party) is greatly concerned about the “termination” since Saturday 17th March 2001 of pro-“Reformasi” and pro-Opposition party websites hosted at Up to this evening (Monday 19th March), we learn that over 20 of such websites have been terminated, thus depriving about 250,000 ordinary people from having access to them, which have served as an important alternative media in Malaysia.

In this country, the National Front government under the leadership of Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been carrying out a systematic crackdown on freedom of expression. Mainstream newspapers as well as television channels are owned or controlled by the governing parties. They not only deny coverage of pro-Reformasi and pro-Opposition news and views, but also distort them.

The government does not allow for the free flow dissenting views by imposing all kinds of restrictions. For example since last year, two monthly (Detik and Wasilah) and a weekly (Eksklusif) have been closed down by the government. An opposition party (Islamic Party) newspaper (Harakah) has been restricted to publishing only two issues in a month from two in a week previously.

Another political party (Justice Party) has not been given a permit to publish its organ although they have applied for it nearly a year ago from the Home Ministry. The People’s Party, after a wait of about two years, was finally given a permit following its move to take legal action against the government. But this permit does not allow for the sale of its publication (Suara PRM) to non-party members and from centres outside the party offices. PRM intends to challenge these government conditions.

Furthermore, it is also difficult for political parties to hold public rallies or talks because the law requires that they get police permit first, which are not easy to obtain. Last week, following the outbreak of violence near Kuala Lumpur, the police have announced that they intend to ban public rallies and gatherings, even if they are peaceful. To make matters worse, the government during the past two weeks have also “prohibited” the circulation of current issues “Asiaweek” and “Far Eastern Economic Review” without providing any good reason.

We have no clear cut evidence to link the “termination” of the websites with the BN government effort to close all channels of communication available to pro-Reformasi and pro-Opposition. Until now has contributed to the growth of the Internet as an alternative means for disseminating true and reliable analyses, news and information, which the government controlled electronic and print media shy away from giving space to. Indeed, the Internet has helped those who uphold freedom of expression and democracy in a country that is ruled by an increasingly authoritarian regime.

We have been informed that several Webmasters of the websites that have been terminated have tried to communicate with the Company. There was at first silence. Finally the company gave an explanation that the websites have violated its “Terms of Service”. If indeed the reason is so, must explain which part or parts of the terms of service had been violated.

We do not believe that it is purely coincidental that over 20 websites have been “terminated” by for the same reason. must clear the air either by providing an adequate and acceptable reason or immediately restoring the operation of these websites. If chooses to remain silent any further, then it will only strengthen increasing suspicion among a large body of Malaysian that it may have succumbed to cooperating with the Malaysian regime to undermine the people’s struggle for justice, democracy and reform in this country.

We call upon all fraternal political parties, non-governmental organisations and concerned individuals in the country as well as all over the world to monitor closely what appears to be doing, as well as to oppose the blatant moves of the Malaysian government to suppress of freedom of expression and erode fundamental human rights in Malaysia.

Dr Syed Husin Ali President
Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) (Malaysian People’s Party)

20th March 2001