GEORGE TOWN (Sept 1, 2008): by Himanshu Bhatt
Penang's Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government will deliberate whether to make Malaysia Day, which falls on Sept 16, a public holiday after considering the interests of factories and other employers in the state.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said while he was aware of parliamentary opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's call for all PR states to make the day a holiday, it was likely that Penang would observe it from next year.
He said the state needed to weigh the sentiments of investors who are employing people here. "We have to consider the investment climate," he said.
"It’s a good suggestion. I think we will do it next year," he said after launching the "Green Penang Campaign" in the Tanjung Bungah market here today.
"But I will check with my executive council members first," he said, stressing that it should be a national holiday.
"We don’t understand why the federal government refuses to make it a public holiday."
Later in a media statement, Lim urged the federal government to observe the Merdeka spirit by fulfilling the promises of Bill of Guarantees of internet freedom, instead of violating them by online censorship.
He said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) act to direct 19 internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to the Malaysia Today website was "undemocratic and a violation of the right to free expression and its Bill of Guarantees".
"Such blatant and crude employment of state power is inconsistent with the widening of the democratic space – an approach the current administration adopted long before the 12th General Election," he said.
He noted that former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad never censored the internet as it would not only make the government lose credibility but also public respect.
Mahathir has also accused the federal government of reneging on its promise not to censor the internet by blocking access to Malaysia Today.
"With the Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor denying that the government instructed the MCMC to shut down the website, there is no reason for the commission to delay unblocking of the website," Lim said in a statement yesterday.
"The question I want to ask is, who ordered the shutdown of Malaysia Today? If it is not the Energy, Water and Communications Minister, could it be the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister?"
He stressed that MCMC should not comply with any directive from the Home Ministry as it was under the purview of the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry.
"If Datuk Shaziman has claimed that the blocking of Malaysia Today had nothing to do with RPK's criticisms against the government, what could be the reasons?
"I reiterate my call for the MCMC to stop this nonsense as this will create fear and misunderstanding, not only among freedom-loving Malaysians, but also the global community, particularly potential investors."