Malaysia's main opposition newspaper is marking World Press Freedom Day by suing the Government over restrictions it says stifle the democratic process.
Harakah, the official newspaper of the opposition Islamic Party (PAS), is challenging a government order imposed in March which has dramatically limited its sales.
The paper's editor, Zulkifli Sulong, said a suit had been filed against the Home Ministry over its decision to limit the paper to only two issues a month instead of eight.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad backs the press curbs
According to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is for the second year running one of the world's 10 worst enemies of the press.
The committee, which monitors press freedoms worldwide, says the last year has seen Dr Mahathir tighten the screws on his country's small opposition press.
We cannot but conclude that the
minister's action was politically motivated
Harakah's managing editor Hishamudin Yahya
Mr Zulkifli and Harakah's printer were arrested in January and charged with sedition over an article about the trial of the jailed opposition leader and former Finance Minister, Anwar Ibrahim.
Harakah's circulation had remained among the highest in the country, despite the curbs, and the paper's internet site was receiving two million hits a month, he said.
Opposition parties say their publications remain popular because of what they call the sagging credibility of the mainstream media, most of which is owned or controlled by Dr Mahathir's governing coalition.
Last year, 600 Malaysian journalists signed a petition calling on the government to repeal laws limiting press freedom, but no action was taken.
Harakah's sales grew after Anwar Ibrahim's arrest
Harakah's sales grew after Anwar
Ibrahim was sacked and arrested, and they soared ahead of
last November's general elections.
PAS - Parti Islam SeMalaysia - tripled its seats in
parliament in the elections and wrested a second state from the ruling
The newspaper, viewed by many as an alternative to the
government-controlled mainstream media, had a
circulation of 500,000 before the limits on publication were
It currently has a circulation of about 270,000.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had backed the limits on
Harakah, saying the paper deserved to be punished for
failing to abide by conditions under its annual permit that bar
sales to non-PAS members.
But Mr Hishamudin said Harakah had no control over sales by vendors and should not be punished.