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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

FEBRUARY 28, 2005
Posted: March 30, 2005

Jeff Ooi,

Police questioned Malaysian blogger Jeff Ooi for two hours in connection with a contributor's September 30, 2004 posting to his Web log, according to the Centre for Independent Journalism in the capital of Kuala Lumpur. Local and international news sources reported that Ooi is being investigated under Section 298A of the nation's Penal Code, which concerns acts that foster "religious disunity," and carries a penalty of two to five years imprisonment.

During questioning by Senior Investigating Officer Assistant Superintendent of Police Ratnakumar of the Criminal Investigation Division, Ooi was asked when and why he started blogging. He was also questioned about a front-page, October 2, 2004 story in the Malay-language daily Berita Hariang that accused Ooi of allowing a contributor to post disparaging remarks about Islam.

The contributor, who signed in as "Anwar", had compared Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's vision of Islam to human excrement. Ooi reacted quickly to the statement and replied online, "What you say offends me; you have completely twisted the topic of discussion." Ooi requested an apology from the contributor and promptly removed the comment on October 1.

Ratnakumar told Ooi that the current investigation was a result of a police report filed against Ooi on February 24 by police themselves.

Last October, Ooi was threatened with detention when the Malaysian deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar warned that writers of insensitive comments on religious issues over the Internet could be detained without trial under the Internal Security Act. The minister told the local press that Ooi must "stop playing with fire or we will use the ISA." Under the Internal Security Act, defendants may be imprisoned without trial for up to two years.

In October, Malaysia's Internet regulator, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), took a statement from Ooi under the Communications and Multimedia Act. Accoring Ooi, the commission subsequently submitted a report to the Attorney General's chamber and closed their investigation.

JULY 6, 2005
Posted: July 22, 2005

Epoch Times

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.