Former minister Rafidah Aziz, often described as Malaysia's own ‘Iron Lady’, has criticised Putrajaya's move to ban the media saying it merely gives people more reason to be upset with the government.
Her remarks came after the government suspended The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily over reports about alleged misappropriation of funds in the Finance Ministry-owned 1MDB.
"We can ban some publications, it does not solve anything, really. If at all, it's making many more people upset and worse still, there is now another grouse against the government, for nothing.
"And social media communication will still continue and now there's a new topic to discuss and condemn. Don't tell me we now must shut down the Internet?" she said in a Facebook posting.
Rafidah, known for her outspokenness, described the ban as a "knee-jerk reaction" and a diversion from resolving the problems at hand.
"Maybe we should delete the word 'ban' from our political vocabulary and adopt approaches that reflect clear-mindedness and rational thinking," she said.
Rafidah said while there were limits to freedom of speech, the media should not be unduly penalised for reporting matters that were deemed unsavoury by the government.
Gov’t fails to explain
She added that the authorities should instead explain issues, including 1MDB, in a coherent manner.
"Those responsible must begin to give to the public the facts and communicate coherently and clearly, and to say things as they are, regarding 1MDB or other issues of public concern," she said.
The Edge , which had obtained leaked information belonging to PetroSaudi International, alleged that US$1.83 billion in funds was siphoned away from 1MDB.
The information included email communication between PetroSaudi and 1MDB about their joint venture activities.
This is amid a special task force investigation into allegations that RM2.6 billion was deposited into the private bank accounts of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
While refusing to comment on his banks accounts, Najib has denied taking any government funds for personal gain.