Malaysian authorities have suspended publication of a business daily whose aggressive reporting on a financial scandal has rocked the government, a move the newspaper and media groups decried Friday as a grave breach of press freedom. In a notice dated Thursday, the Home Ministry suspended the publishing permits of The Edge Media Group for three months, saying its reporting on the scandal swirling around state-owned company 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) threatened “public order”.
The Edge has published a series of exposes over the past year detailing alleged fraud, mismanagement and misappropriation of funds surrounding 1MDB, which is closely linked to Prime Minister Najib Razak. “This is nothing more than a move to shut us down in order to shut us up,” the Edge group’s CEO Ho Kay Tat said in a statement. Earlier this week the government blocked the UK-based website Sarawak Report, which also has published extensive reports on the scandal.
Najib is under mounting pressure amid allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars in 1MDB funds were siphoned off in complex overseas transactions. The Wall Street Journal reported this month Malaysian government investigators had discovered that nearly $700 million had moved through government agencies, banks and companies linked to 1MDB before ending up in Najib’s personal accounts. Najib and 1MDB officials have vehemently denied any wrongdoing.