No appeal, M'kini print permit verdict is final

Modified 3 Dec 2013, 9:37 am

The federal government did not file any appeal against the Court of Appeal decision in favour of Malaysiakini's right to apply for a newspaper licence.

The 30-day period to file an appeal lapsed yesterday, which means that Malaysiakini can now request the home minister to reconsider its application for a newspaper printing licence, as directed by the High Court.

Deputy solicitor-general II Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah, when contacted, said the attorney-general's chambers did not appeal as it was now up to the Home Ministry to consider the application.

NONE Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran ( right ) welcomed the federal government's decision not to appeal and said the company would pursue the matter with the home minister in the near future.

"We will be writing to the home minister to request that he reconsiders Malaysiakini 's application, within the bounds set by the High Court.

"We hope that the minister takes cognisance of the High Court’s decision and grants Malaysiakini its publishing licence quickly," Premesh said.

On Oct 1 last year, the High Court quashed the home minister's decision to reject Malaysiakini 's application for the licence. This ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeal on Oct 30 this year.

Wide implications

The landmark ruling states that the right to publish is a constitutional right and that the home minister cannot reject an application arbitrarily.

Premesh said the decision applies not only to Malaysiakini but to the entire publishing industry, which is governed by the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA).

The PPPA provides the home minister with wide discretionary powers to control who gets to print what.

Now that the ruling for Malaysiakini 's case is final, it is uncertain how the federal government will react.

"We believe that another news portal was recently refused a publishing license and it has filed a case against the home minister, with the Malaysiakini court decision as its basis," Premesh said.

The government has long argued that restrictions on print media are necessary to safeguard against ethnic tensions, although critics have argued that the PPPA is designed to ensure that the media remains under the thumb of the ruling party.

New reasons to reject application?

Lawyer K Shanmuga, who represented Malaysiakini in the court hearings, said there was a possibility of the home minister coming up with new reasons to reject Malaysiakini 's fresh application for a print permit.

"The minister will have to reject (the application) on different grounds because the High Court has spelt out certain factors that must be taken into consideration.

steven gan chinese website launch "In view of this, I find it unlikely that the minister would do so. But if it happens, we will have to go back to court to argue against it," Shanmuga said.

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan ( left ) said should Malaysiakini be granted a licence to print, it will be an opportunity for the independent news portal to reach a section of readers who still prefer to get their news in print.

'We are platform agnostic - our aim is to get Malaysiakini content across to as many Malaysians as possible. That's the reason why Malaysiakini is available in four major languages and on video.

" Malaysiakini is currently available through laptops, tablets and mobile phones. So it's natural that we want to do print, and soon we want it on smart TV as well," Gan said.