The Malaysian government sent an official letter upholding a recent ban on the nationwide distribution of the Epoch Times, a pro-Falun Gong Chinese-language newspaper, for presenting a negative image of China.
The Malaysian National Security Bureau confiscated the June 2 edition of the newspaper at the airport prior to its distribution, according to a statement released by its editors. On June 17, the Publications Control Group also banned distribution of issues 147 and 148, according to the statement.
On July 7, Epoch Times distributors, DZY Marketing, received a letter from the National Security Bureau giving the official reasons for banning the newspaper and refusing to grant an application for a circulation license. The letter accused the newspaper of presenting a negative view of China at odds with the Malaysian government's policy of maintaining bilateral relations with China.
The North American version of Epoch Times is printed in Indonesia and has been distributed in Malaysia since 2004. A spokesman for the Epoch Times told CPJ that the banning of the newspaper followed a series entitled "Nine Commentaries against the Chinese Communist Party" which encouraged people to give up their Party membership.
Malaysian authorities had previously arrested nine Falun Gong members on technical offenses related to the Companies Act, prompting charges that the government had launched a crackdown on the practitioners in response to pressure from the Chinese government. China banned the religion in 1999, alleging anti-state political activities.