Malaysian Parliament Suppresses Debate on Anti-Blogger Amendments

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

This week, the Malaysian Parliament went back into session to consider a series of amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 that, if passed, will further chill online speech and worsen the Malaysian regime’s persecution of journalists, bloggers, and activists. The amendments may pass as early as next week, even before the public has had an opportunity to see them. We’ve written about the planned amendments before, based on the scattered information we had about them from leaks and rumors, but local activists have brought to light another likely feature of the planned amendments that is equally or more concerning: a requirement to register political blogs and websites.

There are numerous problems with such a requirement. Most fundamentally, the need for registration of any online publisher is an unwarranted incursion on freedom of expression. A 2003 Joint Declaration of intergovernmental rapporteurs on freedom of expression and the media specifies that “journalists should not be required to be licensed or to register.” The reasons are obvious: by withholding registration or threatening to do so, the government can silence dissenters and skew public discourse in its favor.

But even leaving the freedom of expression issue aside, on a simply practical level the maintenance of a register of political blogs, news portals, and websites is an unmanageable task. What is the definition of a political blog? Does this also cover a personal blog which occasionally comments on current events? What is a news portal? Does it include a news aggregation website? However these questions are answered, there will be so many edge cases that the registration system is likely to be ineffective, as well as casting a grey legal cloud over the online speech of ordinary Malaysians. Read more

Your KiniGuide to overseas travel, and how one gets blacklisted

Source: Malaysiakini

Last Sunday, Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah was barred from leaving Malaysia.

She joins a list of more than 800,000 people who have been prevented from travelling overseas since 2011. However, unlike many of them, Maria was not why she was not allowed to leave the country.

In this installment of KiniGuide, we explore your right to overseas travel, and where the government can or cannot restrict those rights.

Wait. Overseas travel is a right?

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan ― MMO File pic

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan ― MMO File pic

Yes. According to lawyer Syahredzan Johan, this comes under Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution, read together with Article 9 that provides for the freedom of movement.

Article 5(1) states: “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty save in accordance with law.”

Syahredzan (photo) said the courts have interpreted ‘personal liberty’ to include overseas travel.

This does not amount to a blank cheque to go on that dream holiday, though. What it does mean is that if the government wants to restrict your ability to travel overseas, it would have to do so by passing laws to that effect.

However, the Immigration director-general Sakib Kusmi seems to have taken a different view on the matter. Read more

Immigration D-G: Those who badmouth Putrajaya can be stopped from leaving Malaysia

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Sakib noted that it is a privilege to be able to have a Malaysian passport rather than a right. — AFP pic

Sakib noted that it is a privilege to be able to have a Malaysian passport rather than a right. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 ― There is a new ruling to stop Malaysians who ridicule the government from travelling overseas, Immigration Department director-general Datuk Sakib Kusmi said.

Sakib did not provide statistics on the number of Malaysians barred so far from travelling abroad for discrediting the government, but noted that it is a privilege to be able to have a Malaysian passport rather than a right.

“The Malaysian international passport is a travel document issued by the Government under the aegis of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.

“So, the government has the discretion to either issue, defer or revoke the travel document,” he was quoted saying in an email to local daily The Star.

He also confirmed that Malaysians have the right to go to court and challenge travel bans on them.

The government had first drawn up in 1995 a list of offences that would result in a temporary overseas travel ban of between two to 10 years, with such offences including those convicted of crimes locally or abroad, deliberate damage of passports and making unapproved visits to Israel. Read more

Ridicule Govt and you can be barred

Source: The Star Online

Pic taken from The Star Online

Pic taken from The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians who discredit or ridicule the Government in whatever way can be barred from travelling overseas for three years.

Those who disparage the Government while abroad will also be barred from travelling abroad again for three years upon their return.

A source said that the Immigration Department had enforced this ruling several months ago in a move to safeguard the country’s image.

“Anyone who runs down the Government or ‘memburukkan kerajaan’ in any manner will be barred from going abroad.

“Only the Immigration Department director-general will be authorised to look into their appeals,” he said, adding that the department would act once there was a request from enforcement agencies such as the police.

Immigration director general Datuk Sakib Kusmi, in an email reply to The Star, confirmed the existence of such a provision, adding that the ownership of a Malaysian international passport was a privilege and not a right. Read more