More than 300 people gathered today to protest the suspension of business publications The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily over their reports on the debt-ridden 1MDB.
The protestors converged at Kuala Lumpur's Central Market before marching to the Bar Council building.
They held placards and shouted slogans such as 'Free the media' and 'We support the media'.
They also demanded for the access to Sarawak Report’s website to be restored, and for the government to stop any effort to impose more restrictions on the internet.
The protesters comprised media personnel, activists as well as members of the publi.
It also received bi-partisan support from political parties.
Most notably, Umno's former deputy minister Saifuddin Abdullah was present to show solidarity.
Other leaders present included Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, Selangor exco Elizabeth Wong, former Selangor exco Ronnie Liu and PSM central committee member S Arutchelvan.
“As a journalist, I’m angry that The Edge was suspended because their reports painted the government in a bad light.
“It’s a stupid reason to suspend a paper because the job of journalists is not to please people. Our job is to report facts.
“To quote George Orwell, ‘Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations,” said Coalition for Press Freedom spokesperson Boo Su-Lyn in her speech during the rally.
From Kuala Lumpur's Central Market where they convergd at 10am, the protestors marched to Medan Pasar, which is about 250 metres away opposite the Bar Council building. The march started at about 11.15am.
About eight police personnel kept watch on the crowd and helped direct traffic as the group took a circuitous route to their destination to avoid the stalls set up outside Central Market.
The event was organised by media freedom-related groups namely Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm), the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Malaysia (FCCM) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Members of the Bar Council and Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) were also present as observers.
'Present news truthfully'
Also among the protestors were civil rights group Negaraku chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan, Gerakan Harapan Baru secretary-general Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, and the investigative journalist R Nadeswaran.
In his speech, Nadeswaran said the protest was not only for The Edgeor and Sarawak Report but also for all of the media as what happened to the two could also happen to any other media organisation.
He said he could not imagine how a media organisation could conspire to overthrow the government as The Edge and Sarawak Report have been accused of.
“At the drop of a hat, they are all going to be accused of conspiring to overthrow the government. That is not our job.
“Our job is that we are the purveyors of news and information. Our job is to present the news truthfully, accurately and we write for our readers.
“Anyone who accuses us of other things, then they don’t have common sense,” he said.
The rally ended peacefully with a poetry recital by Selangorkini editor Fazallah Pit at about 12.30pm.