Malaysia disconnecting from online freedoms — Susan Leong & Terence Lee

Source: East Asia Forum

BY SUSAN LEONG & TERENCE LEE

Not long ago, the Malaysian government thought that mastery of the internet was a path towards economic development. In February 1996, it launched the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), essentially a special economic zone, to entice high-technology corporations like Microsoft to set up shop in Malaysia.Malaysian children surf the Internet. (Photo: AAP)

To ensure the MSC’s appeal to prospective technology investors, restrictions on both the information technology market and on online expression were loosened. Whereas television, radio and newspapers remained restricted by laws like the Printing Presses and Publications Act, concessions to freedom of business ownership, employment quotas and censorship of the internet were made for the MSC.

Yet recently, two acts — the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA Act) and the Sedition Act — have been used repeatedly to contain the zeal with which Malaysians have taken to the internet. Read more

Democracy fades in Malaysia and Turkey as leaders crack down

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

It’s an unfortunate fact that there are very few successful, secular democracies among Muslim-majority nations. Sadly, two of this rare breed are now in the process of failing.

If Malaysia and Turkey continue sliding towards authoritarianism, it will put democracies in the Islamic world on the list of endangered species. And they are sliding. In the past 10 days, the governments in both countries shut down media outlets that dared report unflattering facts about their leaders.

And when peaceful protesters marched on the weekend to object to the shutdown of Turkey’s biggest opposition newspaper, Zaman, the police turned water cannon and tear gas on them.

<i>Illustration: John Shakespeare.</i>

Illustration: John Shakespeare.

In Malaysia it was the country’s most popular news website, The Malaysian Insider or TMI, that was blocked by the government. The next day Prime Minister Najib Razak tried to justify the blatant censorship by writing that it was “unhealthy journalism” to have news portals that were “constructing their own version of ‘reality'”.

It’s a sure sign of the dictator’s mindset – only one version of reality may be allowed to exist, and that’s the version officially sanctioned by the ruler. Read more

Misuse of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 to Stifle Freedom of Speech and Expression Must End – Malaysian Bar

Press Release

Misuse of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998
to Stifle Freedom of Speech and Expression Must End

The Malaysian Bar is aghast at the decision of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (“MCMC”) — pursuant to Sections 233 and 263(2) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (“CMA”) — to deny public access to The Malaysian Insider (“TMI”) online news portal indefinitely.

MCMC announced the decision in its statement dated 25 February 2016, without giving any specific reason.  However, it appears that MCMC has taken action against TMI because TMI allegedly published matters that have caused confusion.  MCMC has not identified the offending publication(s) by TMI that caused this purported confusion.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Mohd Salleh Tun Said Keruak has reportedly said that TMI has been blocked as one of the articles published by it “… quoted a statement that could cause confusion because it contradicts with official statements by MACC.  They don’t mention who the source is.  It could confuse the public.”[1]

Causing public confusion is not, and cannot be, an offence under Section 233 of the CMA.  MCMC’s reliance on Section 233 for its action against TMI is therefore without any basis, and   oppressive.  It is quite puzzling that anyone could consider causing public confusion to be an offence at all.  It is also rather demeaning and offensive to assume that Malaysians will be “confused” merely as a result of contradictory statements in the press, or because the source of press statements was not disclosed. Read more

CIJ urges vigilance over more censorship after TMI block

Source: Malaysiakini

The people must be vigilant over the possibility of the government imposing further censorship after it blocked news portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI) yesterday, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) cautions.

“Malaysians should be very concerned with the increased cases of Internet censorship by the government in recent months, signalling worse days ahead for freedom of expression and information in Malaysia.

“We ask that Internet users in Malaysia be vigilant of further restrictions online, as it can impact access to vital information and possibly even lead to increase in cost of accessing information and technology,” CIJ said in a statement yesterday. Read more