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Asian Wall Street Journal Banned In Malaysia

September 26, 1986 GMT

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ The government on Friday banned the Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal for three months and expelled its two correspondents.

The Home Affairs Ministry said the action against the Asian Wall Street Journal was taken after a review of the newspaper’s articles, but did not cite any specific criticism.

The ministry, in a statement, said it would take similar action against any publication that carried ″articles, statements or other writings which would undermine public order and morals, national security, ties with foreign governments, or (that) went against the country’s laws or threaten the public or national interest.″

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Malaysia expelled correspondents John Berthelsen, 48, and Raphael Pura, 40.

Senior Malaysian officials privately have criticized Berthelsen’s reporting, claiming he has put the government in ″bad light.″

This week, the Asian Wall Street Journal and the Wall Street Journal in the United States carried articles about the lingering problems caused by Malaysia’s secret attempt to corner the world tin market in 1981, and on the finance minister’s mixing of his public role with his private business interests.

The Wall Street Journal and its Asian edition are published by Dow Jones & Co., Inc., which protested the expulsions.

Warren H. Phillips, chairman and chief executive of Dow Jones, said in a statement issued in New York that the Malaysian action was ″unfair, unjustified and unwise″ and that Dow Jones was asking that it be reversed.

″It is ironic that at a time of expanding international trade and financial transactions, with Malaysia actively seeking increased investments from the U.S. and other nations, the Malaysian government should try to suppress the free flow of information on which international commerce depends.″

The daily, which is edited in Hong Kong and printed in Hong Kong and Singapore, has a circulation of about 1,800 in Malaysia, according to Dow Jones.

In the past authorities have delayed the paper’s distribution because of stories it considered detrimental to the government.

Malaysia routinely censors foreign publications and requires that copies of all foreign publications be submitted to the intelligence agency. If the agency considers an article unacceptable, it asks importers to remove the article from each issue of the publication.

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The American newsmagazines Time and Newsweek and the Hong Kong-based newsmagazines Asia Week and Far Eastern Economic Review have been censored.

Last year, Far Eastern Economic Review correspondent James Clad was charged with publishing official secrets. He pleaded guilty and was fined. He had written on relations between Malaysia and China.

The newspaper industry in the United States also lodged protests against the action.

George W. Wilson, vice chairman of the American Newspaper Publishers Association and publisher of the Concord, N.H., Monitor, sent a telegram to the Malaysian ambassador, Albert S. Tatalla.

″As leaders of most governments know, it is neither wise nor reasonable to ban information and censor discourse simply because the government does not like or agree with everything published or broadcast or discussed,″ the telegram said in part.

Michael G. Gartner, president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, sent a telegram of protest to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

″Barring of newspapers and expulsion of journalists is not surprising when it occurs in dictatorships,″ the telegram said in part. ″It shocks us when it occurs in a nation counted among the world’s democracies. We hope, Mr. Prime Minister, you will overrule your Home Ministry so this vindictive action against a respected global newspaper will not mar your visit to the United States.″

The prime minister is to visit the United States next week.