Mahathir: Charging of The Edge’s former editor-in-chief erodes efforts to promote press freedom

TheEdge Thu, Oct 06, 2022 07:51pm - 1 year View Original

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 6): Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has hit out at the action of the authorities to criminally charge and handcuff The Edge Communications Sdn Bhd's former editor-in-chief Ahmad Azam Mohd Aris in connection with reports on penny stock manipulation.

“Having editors charged and handcuffed as common criminals is intimidating and sets back efforts to promote the freedom of the press which the Pakatan Harapan government had committed itself to during [its] 22-month rule.

“Such action only serves to further erode our freedom of the press ratings, which had taken a major dip in the past two years,” Mahathir said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Oct 6).

The veteran politician said he was very disturbed by the criminal defamation charges levied against Azam, stressing that the matter should be a civil dispute, not a criminal one.

“If there is no truth to what had been reported, the person or companies that felt that they had been wronged should have sued the editor and the publication for defamation. That is what [happens] in most other cases we have witnessed in disputes involving media reports,” he said.

Mahathir also said that the readiness of the public prosecutor’s office to initiate criminal charges against Azam was “quite baffling”, as an investigation should have instead been directed to the individuals who were alleged to have manipulated penny stocks on the local bourse.

“Otherwise, let the people accused take civil action against the publication,” he said.

The two-time prime minister said handcuffing an editor sent a very wrong signal to the nation with regard to the justice system, noting that other high-profile criminals who had been convicted are strutting around freely, cuff-free and allowed to attend parliamentary sessions.

“Though the two cases are different, the principle of justice and fairness should apply equally.

“To my mind, the Attorney General’s Chambers can still redeem itself and remedy the situation. Withdraw the case and let the parties settle their dispute through civil action,” Mahathir said.

Last month, Azam, who currently serves as The Edge’s editor emeritus, was charged in two cases at the Petaling Jaya Magistrate’s Court for criminal defamation over two news reports on the abnormal surge in penny stocks in 2020 and 2021.

Azam was charged for allegedly tarnishing the reputation of Metronic Global Bhd non-executive director Datuk Kua Khai Shyuan, DGB Asia Bhd, Trive Property Group Bhd, Metronic Global Bhd, and MNC Wireless Bhd.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges and the court allowed him bail of RM500 for one case, and RM2,500 for the other. It fixed Nov 22 for the next case management.

Read also:
The Edge former editor-in-chief charged with criminal defamation for reporting abnormal penny stocks surge

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