Updated: The permit for The Herald will be renewed, according to its editor after he emerged from a meeting this evening with government officials. He added that both sides agreed that the August letter still stands.
The plight of the Herald Catholic weekly newspaper in Malaysia must be a public relations nightmare for the Najib administration – as if it doesn’t have enough problems as it is.
If the government has really cancelled the permit (which it now reportedly denies), what does that say for the 1Malaysia concept and the government’s credibility internationally?
On the other hand, this development could have been the result of a bureaucratic bungle and confusion. In a letter in August, the government had turned down the application by the Church for an additional language – Kadazan-Dusun – to be included, but had otherwise approved the existing languages (Malay, English, Chinese and Tamil). The Church duly paid the annual publishing permit fee of RM800.
Later, the Ministry informed the Church that the “change of language” had not been approved and wanted to return the annual publishing permit fee. Why would it want to return the fee if it was not cancelling the permit?
I would imagine that the public relations folks – and even administration officials – must be scrambling behind the scenes to contain the negative publicity.
Meanwhile, Herald editor Fr Lawrence Andrew has been called for a meeting with government officials at 4.30pm.
I am hopeful that good sense will prevail and the Herald will continue to be published despite the numerous hurdles in its path.