Saturday, February 27, 2016

Graphic artists launch online poster campaign for media freedom

Artists with Grafik Rebel Untuk Protes & Aktivisme (Grupa) have launched a media freedom campaign inviting Malaysians to oppose Putrajaya's clampdown on the press by expressing their through art and creative works. The anonymous group's latest posters are a clever use of word play and graphics portraying solidarity with news outlets that have been suspended or blocked by the authorities, such as former weekly magazine The Heat, business papers The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily and most recently, The Malaysian Insider. One of the posters reads, "First they couldn't take the heat, then we were all at the edge, now we are outsiders" – the last reference a play of words on The Malaysian Insider's mirror page. The Malaysian Insider has been blocked since Thursday by the Malaysia's Internet regulator after a report quoting a member of the anti-graft authority's oversight panel who spoke on condition of anonymity that there was enough evidence to charge Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for alleged criminal wrongdoing in Finance Ministry-owned firm SRC International. The Heat's suspension in 2013 by the Home Ministry was believed to be over their cover story on Najib titled "All eyes on big-spending PM Najib". The suspension was lifted in 2014 and the newsweekly was allowed to continue operations without any change to its publishing permit. Financial newspapers, The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily were suspended last year for reporting on alleged graft at state-owned investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), where Najib sits as its advisory board chairman. The suspension on both papers owned by The Edge Media Group was lifted in September last year following a High Court order. In a press statement on its Facebook page, Grupa said it viewed the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission's (MCMC) move to block The Malaysian Insider as "another blatant attempt by desperate elites in stifling free speech on the pretext of national security." "In reality the role of the media is to assist the public to develop critical thinking. "We feel that the time has come for Malaysians to demand for media and internet freedom in light of the latest assault on freedom of speech in Malaysia," said the statement. Three posters have been put up on the group's page since this morning and more are expected to stream in for the online campaign with the hashtags #freethemedia #bebasmedia. Grupa is behind the recent flood on social media sites of images of Najib as a clown, done in solidarity with activist and artist Fahmi Reza's whose began the #KitaSemuaPenghasut (we are all seditious) online campaign that lampooned the prime minister. Fahmi's original image also carried the words "Dalam negara yang penuh dengan korupsi... Kita semua penghasut" (In a country filled with corruption...we are all seditious). Police have called him in this Sunday for investigations under the Communications and Multimedia Act and the Penal Code. Grupa first banded together during the Bersih 4.0 rally in August last year and released some 110 protest posters online before the rally calling for government reforms as well as Najib's resignation amid allegations of a corruption scandal linked to 1MDB and RM2.6 billion donation deposited into his personal account. – February 27, 2016.]]>

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