KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 ― The proposal to require bloggers and online writers to register with the Communications and Multimedia Ministry is likely to see a reduction in the current rampant dissemination of unverified and false information, according to academics and bloggers interviewed.
They felt that the registration would help create writers who were more ethical, aware and responsible for what they wrote and disseminated.
The director of the Centre for Malaysian Royal Institutional Studies Malaysia at Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP), Prof Datuk Dr Ramlah Adam, said the proposal should be implemented immediately to ensure that writers remained ethical and responsible to themselves as well as to society and the nation.
“When there is that feeling, we can avoid defamation which can lead to disunity. All religions forbid disunity,” she told Bernama.
Ramlah was commenting on a proposal by the Home Ministry to pass a law making it compulsory for bloggers to register with the Communications and Multimedia Ministry in the effort to curb defamatory and irresponsible writing.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed was reported saying that the proposal was aimed at ensuring that articles in blogs or social networks were accurate, valid, ethical and did not abuse the Internet.
Ramlah said the proposal could also serve as a guide to prevent online media writers and bloggers from writing or disseminating information which was provocative and sparked hatred.
She said all information must be based on research or legitimate sources with experience in the related field so that readers were not confused and the information did not have a negative impact on society.
“Every article must have valid sources and clear discussions based on facts. It should not be based on emotions just to achieve one’s own objective of bringing down any party by inciting hatred in society,” she said.
Blogger Shahpaskal of militaryofmalaysia.net said the time had come to implement such a law as the social media was often abused and used as a platform to spread unhealthy and defamatory content.
“There are those who shame others, spread defamatory remarks, false news, obscene material, pornography, free sex and religious material which are against the Sunnah belief in Malaysia,” he said.
Shahpaskal said he himself had been investigated by the authorities for an article he uploaded onto the blog but said it was not a problem as he was confident that what he wrote was based on facts and not defamatory.
“I do not blame the authorities as the incident proves that they, especially the police or the armed forces, are concerned about sensitive issues relating to Malaysia’s security.
“However, I admit that there are many bloggers who are irresponsible and do not know the basis for laws such as the Internal Security Act, the Official Secrets Act and so on. They are mostly amateur writers with no background in writing,” he said.
Shahpaskal feels that the law would have a positive effect on the world of Internet writing and help to prevent subversive elements which are now spread rampantly on the social media.
He said the social media should be a medium to disseminate knowledge and information which could mould a person and build the nation, and abuse by irresponsible bloggers and mercenary writers who only sought hits and popularity would only complicate the work of the authorities.
Similarly, another blogger, Zulhazri Abu Bakar from hazrey.com, also welcomed the proposal for the law as he said it was time that freedom of speech was not abused to disseminate lies and twist facts, including on political issues.
“While Article 10 of the Federal Constitution allows freedom of speech, it also includes a provision to defend the security of the nation, society, race and religion.
“If the media, such as those which are pro-opposition, is concerned about ethics and integrity, this proposal would not arise. So it is good that it is formed because today anyone can claim they are journalists and editors.
“For instance, today, portals which are leftists resort to confusing and twisting facts which are disseminated by netizens before they can be erased, giving rise to a bad perception of individuals or leaders,” he said.
He said such polemics often occurred and, ultimately, media freedom was abused. ― Bernama