BY MONG PALATINO
Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Ministry has formally proposed legal amendments to the Attorney General that would require the country’s political blogs and online news portals to register with the government. Minister Salleh Said Keruak denies that the legislation amounts to censorship, arguing that the proposal is designed to preserve the Internet as a tool for promoting Malaysia’s economic growth, and meant to protect the country against internal divisions brought about by misleading information published online, he says.
Human rights groups and media freedom advocates denounced the proposal as a curtailment of free speech, saying the move reverses the government’s earlier stated commitment to promoting Internet freedom.
Critics of Malaysia’s ruling political party say the push to force political blogs to register with the state is a desperate tactic meant to silence dissent. Since last year, the government has struggled against a corruption scandal that’s sparked mass protests across the country. Internet users, including bloggers, are some of the prime minister’s most vocal detractors, accusing him of ill-gotten gains in several dubious transactions. State censors have already blocked a handful of news websites for reporting allegedly ”unverified” information about the corruption issue. Read more