KUALA LUMPUR • The Edge Media Group yesterday filed a judicial challenge to a three-month suspension of its print publications by the Home Ministry, even as the Malaysian government faces a widening backlash for the move.
The government suspended The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily from yesterday over its repeated allegations of wrongdoing by troubled state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), whose board of advisers is led by Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The Home Ministry said the publications' coverage of the 1MDB case was "prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion or is likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest".
The Edge group's chief executive officer and publisher Ho Kay Tat has denied any wrongdoing, and said the group will continue to publish articles on 1MDB on its website. It has a staff of 350 people.
"We have, today, filed an application at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to seek a judicial review of the Home Ministry's decision to suspend The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily," the media group said yesterday. "We have also requested that the application be heard on an urgent basis... Given the urgency and public interest, we hope the court will grant us a date very soon." Mr Ho and the lawyers were not available for comment.
Barisan Nasional strategic communications director Abdul Rahman Dahlan defended the suspension, saying the publisher is being investigated for publishing documents on 1MDB which may have been tampered with.
The suspension of the two publications followed the blocking of the Sarawak Report website, which also carried critical reports about 1MDB.
Close to 3,000 people have signed an online petition, "Lift suspension of The Edge and stop blocking Sarawak Report", created by Malaysian non-governmental organisation Aliran on Change.org since Sunday. A Facebook page "Malaysians stand in solidarity with The Edge" was also created to pressure the authorities to lift the suspension on the two publications and received more than 8,000 likes.
Several media groups also announced the #AtTheEdge campaign to show public support for The Edge and Sarawak Report.
Among other things, they urged the public to subscribe to The Edge's online edition and to participate in the social media campaign.
A gathering at The Edge's office is being planned for Friday, and a separate mass rally on Aug 8 in Kuala Lumpur.
Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani