On Herald seizure, Ambiga asks if ‘left hand knows what the right hand is doing’


(MM) – The Home Ministry’s unexplained seizure of the Catholic weekly The Herald conflicts directly with the federal government’s directive on the “Allah” ban and places the Najib administration “in an embarrassing position”, Datuk Ambiga Sreenavesan has said.

The vocal former bar council president and human rights activist charged that the incident either signalled a disconnect between the top and bottom leadership, or was yet another example of “broken promises” by Putrajaya in protecting minority rights.

“The seizure conflicts directly with what the PM said only a few days ago. Either the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing or this is yet another example of broken promises.

“Who gave the orders for the seizure that has put the PM in a very embarrassing situation?” Ambiga, who is also the co-chairman of popular poll reform group Bersih 2.0, told The Malay Mail Online.

According to Herald editor Fr Lawrence Andrew, around 2,000 copies of the weekly publication were seized at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) on Thursday, apparently on order of the Home Ministry.

“The consignment arrived at 2.54pm on Thursday, and it was checked by KDN officials as the usual practice,” he told The Malay Mail Online, referring to the Home Ministry’s Malay acronym.

“The forwarding company were however told not to release the consignment. The company checked again on Friday at 10am, and were told that the consignment has been withheld. No reason was given,” Lawrence added.

But in a sudden about-turn yesterday, Home Ministry officials ordered a release of the publications and allowed the consignment to reach its Catholic readers in the east Malaysian state.

The flip-flop, although lauded by the Catholic church, only left more question marks in its wake and uncertainty over the possibility of more such bans in the future.

Calling the ban “bizarre”, Andrew told The Malay Mail Online that the ministry must explain the episode.

He pointed out that apart from the church, many lawmakers are also keen on finding out why the ministry had ordered the ban in the first place.

“It is a very funny situation. The copies were already in the hands of the forwarding agents, but they were told not to distribute the Herald.

“They could only release it on the instructions of the authority,” he said.

Read more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/on-herald-seizure-ambiga-asks-if-left-hand-knows-what-the-right-hand-is-doi