Arutchelvam first to be barred from Sarawak after polls

Source: FMT News

Barring PSM leader and other activists show the move is politically-motivated, says party’s central committee member. Pic from FMT News

PETALING JAYA: Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) Secretary-General S Arutchelvan has been barred from entering Sarawak, the first to be barred after the state elections on May 7.

He was in Sarawak at the invitation of local communities to conduct a human rights workshop, said PSM central committee member Choo Chon Kai.

Choo said the barring of Arutchelvan, along with other activists, at the Miri airport, showed the move was politically-motivated and the state immigration had violated basic human rights. Read more

Warning signs of false dawn in food security – Paul Teng

Source: NST Online

BY PAUL P.S. TENG

According to the 2015 Rice Bowl Index report, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia are relatively robust in their food security preparedness compared with other Asean countries. Pic taken from NST Online

Food security, as a matter of national concern, cannot be considered in isolation from the broader economic, social and physical environments. In recent years, many countries have experienced slower economic growth, affecting disposable income levels and, consequently, consumer spending and food consumption patterns. The physical environment has, likewise, experienced challenges from climate events and continued loss of arable land and freshwater resources.

During the same period, many food commodity prices have also fallen. While this makes food more affordable, it also reduces farm incomes and reduces investment in infrastructure and technology needed to improve overall productivity. A vicious cycle may ensue in which reduced productivity can further reduce farm incomes and a country’s agricultural competitiveness.

That there has been no discernible challenge to food security in the recent past should not be taken to mean that Asean countries have become food secure. In a new normal, Asean, particularly, and Asia, generally, has shown slower economic growth which affected the incomes of many of those who are food insecure. But, with lower commodity prices, food prices generally had also declined. This situation, however, could potentially be a false dawn if events cause food prices to rise irrespective of economic trends and households again have to endure food insecurity.

An index that tracks food security relative to macro-factors is the Rice Bowl Index (RBI) ©, which provides a measure of a country’s ability to withstand disturbances to its food security dimensions — availability, physical and economic access, utilisation and stability. The latest RBI © Report, “New Norm or False Dawn” released late last year, showed that over the preceding 12 months, food security robustness of Asean countries had generally improved, but at a slower pace than in previous years. Read more

Online Freedom and the soon-to-be proposed Bill to amend the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) – Robyn Choi

BY ROBYN CHOI
(SECRETARY-GENERAL, HAKAM)

blocked sites in malaysia
There are indications that new laws will be introduced in Parliament later this month to amend the Communications and Multimedia Act 1988 (CMA). Consultations were said to have taken place between the government departments and agencies. Todate, civil society organisations, especially those involved in looking into freedom of expression in particular media freedom, have not been informed as to the nature of the amendments, let alone consulted.

What has been indicated thus far are that the amendments are likely to be introduced to regulate content online and in respect of requirements for licensing of certain content providers/websites (both local and foreign) especially news content providers, registration of blogs, increased penalties on offences and provisions concerning internet service providers.

If the indicators so far  are correct as to the nature of the CMA Bill, every one will be affected  : a) individually, b)  interest groups like students, researchers, teachers, professional bodies, women’s groups, business networks etc.c) various Malaysian online communities especially dealing with marginalised and fringe minority groups, d) businesses,  those who sell and advertise products and services online, those who invests on online applications and online technology, those who directly invest in content online, and e) internet service providers like TMNET, Maxis, Digi etc.

Let us consider the trend on how our government had regulated online content in the past two years. In the past two years, the government had severely interfered with freedom of speech on the internet through increased blocking of online media sites both local and international, intensified questioning and/or arresting of activists, journalists, lawyers and cartoonists over online activities and the passing of a series of tougher laws with stiffer penalties dealing with online expression.   Last year alone no less than 1,263 have been blocked – 632 websites based on the application of local law enforcement agencies, while 631 websites were blocked for offences under the CMA. We have been told that from January to February 2016, a further 399 websites have been blocked, and 22 persons called in for questioning by the Multimedia Communications Commission Malaysia (MCMC).

According to Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak, among the 399 websites blocked in January & February include online gambling, scams, prostitution, and websites that contain obscene, lewd, false content and others.  While we may agree that websites offering  vice ought to be blocked, what about the non-vice  websites that have been blocked? Read more