KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian banker Datuk Seri Nazir Razak said Sunday he was not defending The Edge publications over its recent suspension by the authorities but had spoken out on the issue as it was a matter of freedom of expression.
The CIMB Group chairman had on Friday condemned the Home Ministry's suspension of business weekly The Edge over its reports on the scandal-hit state company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
"It's not for The Edge. It's for freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, that's all," said Nazir, when reporters asked him on his views about the suspension on Sunday. "This is not defending anyone, this is the principal freedom of the media," he was quoted saying by The Star.
In a post on his Instagram on Friday, Nazir had voiced his objection over the move, saying that the publication had been "a pillar of the business community".
"The Edge has a big role in keeping us informed, honest and competitive. Recent 1MDB coverage seemed outstanding but if there were flaws, then correct them or take legal recourse. I condemn the suspension and my thoughts go to all affected staff."
Nazir was under the spotlight when he attended former premier Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's Hari Raya open house in Putrajaya on Sunday.
The prominent banker has been outspoken on the 1MDB issue since the controversy over its debt intensified this year. He has previously attacked the firm for lacking accountability and transparency.
The 1MDB advisory board is chaired by Nazir's brother Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Najib had also attended the same Hari Raya function at Abdullah's home.
When Nazir walked over to his elder brother and Abdullah to have a chat, press photographers and even guests shuttered away on their cameras to capture the moment.
"I had a private conversation with my brother, I won't share it with you," Nazir said when asked if he spoke to the Prime Minister about The Edge.
When asked how were things in the family, his response was "okay lah".
Najib, who attended the event with wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, declined to speak to the press.
However, Abdullah did give a few words to reporters.
"Exciting! Great atmosphere!" said Abdullah, commenting on the event, which was attended by thousands of guests. His wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah was also present.
Nazir's criticism of The Edge suspensions were echoed by AirAsia CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, who said that freedom of the press was the pillar of democracy.
"There are other recourse if reporting is wrong. Sad day, I'm in shock," wrote Fernandes, who was also at the function.