KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia's opposition said Tuesday that two of its newspapers have been banned for three months, in what they fear is the start of a media crackdown under incoming premier Najib Razak.
Malaysia is entering a period of intense political activity, with a leadership transition, a critical ruling party conference, and three high-profile by-elections all to take place in the next few weeks.
Two newspapers belonging to parties in the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance have been targeted – "Suara Keadilan" run by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan party, and "Harakah" which belongs to the Islamic party PAS.
"We received a letter from the home ministry this afternoon saying Suara Keadilan has been banned for three months with immediate effect," said Keadilan spokesman Tian Chua.
"We fear that this action by the government is a prelude to a general clampdown on press freedom in Malaysia," he told Agence France-Presse.
PAS secretary-general Kamaruddin Jaafar said the party would appeal against the decision.
"This is a violation of the freedom of media and a violation of a political party's right to have its official organ published freely," he said.
"This is another sign of a new era of repressions with Najib coming into power."
Najib is due to replace Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after the ruling party UMNO holds a general assembly this week.