Thursday, 18 December 2008

Is this the price to pay?

is this the price to pay for challenging the government? (p.s. the herald challenged the government recently in court over the use of Allah for God)

http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Thursday/National/2431059/Article/index_html

KUALA LUMPUR: Catholic weekly The Herald may have to stop publication as its publishing permit, which expires at the end of the month, has still not been renewed.

The weekly, recently the subject of controversy over the use of the word 'Allah' in its content, needs to have the permit renewed by Dec 31 to continue operations next year.

Its editor, Father Lawrence Andrew, said the paper's licence was usually renewed three months before the deadline.

However, this year, the Home Ministry has yet to renew the permit although The Herald applied for a renewal earlier than it usually does.

"We expected difficulties, so we applied in July. There should be no reason for the delay," said Lawrence.
"The government said it was still reviewing our licence. But we are now at the tail-end of the year. I must let people know what is going on."

On the paper's use of the word "Allah", he said: "The issue is in the courts."

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, in an interview with Reuters yesterday, said the government was "still reviewing" The Herald's licence and was following "due process".

"Until Dec 31, we are not going to announce anything. There is plenty of time. Let them wait."

However, Lawrence is optimistic about the publication's chances of operating again although warning letters from the ministry don't bode well for the future.

"In their letters, they say that what we write can be a threat to national security. But issues like the economic and food crises are also ethical things which affect families and faith."

Asked if The Herald would "tone down" if its licence was renewed, he said: "We are not being adamant or stubborn, but when there is a food or economic crisis, how can we tone down?

"We wrote about the fuel prices and asked people to pray that it would go down. And it did. What's wrong with that?"

Asked whether it was The Herald's editorial slant that was the problem, Lawrence said he was not sure.

"Our paper is only sold in churches. We don't sell it to vendors or Muslims. They cannot prevent us from educating our people and expanding their faith."

He said if The Herald's publishing permit was not renewed, he would leave the matter to Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam to decide.

The Herald has a readership of about 14,000 nationwide.

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