MCMC: Why we blocked live.undi.info, Sarawak Report and Medium

Source: The Star Online

HAKAM comment: MCMC said blocked according to laws of the country. The laws have not changed (yet) so, why unblock? Isn’t that evidence of your arbitrariness? We need new MCMC commissioners appointed to replace this group who has no respect for the Rule of Law.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission — The Star filepic

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission says it blocked GE14 results site live.undi.info on polling night over concerns the results were not correct.

In a post on its Facebook page, MCMC says it acted on complaints from the public that the results and information displayed on the site were inaccurate.

“However, after reviewing the content being displayed, we removed the block as the criteria used to do so were no longer relevant at this moment,” according to MCMC

Digital transparency advocacy group Sinar Project released a report on May 16 saying that the website was blocked on the evening of polling day on May 9. Read more

Documentary maker: Kelantan Forestry offered to settle case with RM1k fine

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Over 200 Orang Asli had put up a blockade at the Balah Forest Reserve in Gua Musang since September 26 to prevent logs from being taken out from the area. — Bernama pic

Over 200 Orang Asli had put up a blockade at the Balah Forest Reserve in Gua Musang since September 26 to prevent logs from being taken out from the area. — Bernama pic

PETALING JAYA, Feb 27 — The Kelantan Forestry Department offered to drop a case against two journalists if they agree to plead guilty and pay a RM1,000 fine, documentary maker Jules Rahman Ong claimed today.

Ong and his cameraman colleague Too Chee Hung were arrested last month by state forestry officers while shooting a documentary on the plight of Orang Asli villagers defending their homes in forest reserves in Gua Musang.

Speaking to reporters here, Ong said the offer was made last Friday.

He also said the Forestry Department’s investigative officer in charge of the duo’s case had informed them that the investigation papers on their case have yet to be sent to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

“(He) kind of persuaded us to just settle it out of court and pay the fine and plead guilty.

“In fact we told him if you have done your investigation and you are going to see the DPP, if that is the procedure, then go ahead,” he said, using the abbreviation for deputy public prosecutor.

He said the duo will not be paying the RM1,000 fine and will instead wait for the AGC to decided whether or not to press charges against them.

“To do that (pay the fine), I feel like I’ll be sending a message that it is ok for the government to curtail our rights to access of information. Read more

Information freedom in Malaysia: Why we must empower the media and whistleblowers — Anas Alam Faizli

Source: Astro Awani

BY ANAS ALAM FAIZLI

In the current state, can the media in Malaysia be recognised as the fourth estate? Pic taken from Astro Awani

In the current state, can the media in Malaysia be recognised as the fourth estate? Pic taken from Astro Awani

Back in 2009, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak launched the New Economic Model (NEM), intended to spur the shift of a Government-led economy to the private sector.

He proclaimed that “the era where the Government knows best is over.”Subsequently, in a 2014 interview at UMNO’s 68th anniversary, he reiterated, “And, with all sense of humility, we consider ourselves not as know-alls. I have said that the era of the Government knows best is over.”

What the Prime Minister said is perfectly accurate and must be applauded.

While the context might have been with regards to giving the lead to the private sector or receiving criticism from the general public, his statement will be meaningful only if public participation is included in the Government’s operations and policies.

This can only be achieved if the public is given access to government documents; in order to pave the way or provide constructive criticism.

There are two ways to do this effectively; periodical release of data for the general public to consume, analyse, and scrutinise and secondly, the granting of rights for the public to request government documents and information. Read more

The information is ours to judge — R. Nadeswaran

Source: The Sundaily

BY R. NADESWARAN

JOURNALISTS are often reminded that, like a coin, there are two sides to a story. “Get the other side to comment on the story,” editors would scream. When there is no response, the story will include these immortal words: “He declined to comment”.

On June 25 last year, no Malaysian knew the name Xavier Justo, a Swiss businessman. In a series of reports, the media painted him as a greedy, ruthless and cold-blooded blackmailer.

The NST trumpeted his arrest by the Thai police in an exclusive report which it said had the country talking and “followed by newspapers and online media around the world”.

Nirmal Gosh of the Singapore Straits Times, who was the first to interview Justo, claimed the “difficulty of gaining access to the man” and that he had to “call the Thai police every day, sometimes twice a day”. But there’s another side to this as we would learn later.

Justo “confessed” to having met several people and was the “bad boy” in wanting to “topple a democratically elected government”.

In subsequent reports and analyses, newspapers used his “confession” to pooh-pooh the many assertions made by the foreign media. Read more

Appreciate media’s role, they help enlighten public, DPM tells authorities

Source: The Malay Mail Online

PUTRAJAYA, June 20- Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today urged the authorities to understand and appreciate the media’s role in educating the public via news reports and exposés.

In his speech at a buka puasa feast for enforcement agencies at his official residence here, the Home Minister said that the roles played by all forms of media agencies are important.

“Appreciate their contributions.

“In a borderless world, the efforts from all quarters, including the social media is important as they give (news) coverage and exposes.

“I hope that the coverage and exposés will enlighten the public,” Ahmad Zahid said. Read more

Group wants to see proposed Internet laws before Parliament debate

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Just last year alone, a total of 1,263 websites were blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. — File pic

Just last year alone, a total of 1,263 websites were blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) today urged the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to allow civil society to view its proposed amendments to Internet laws here before tabling them to the Dewan Rakyat.

In a statement, Hakam secretary-general Robyn Choi noted that the amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 have yet to be publicly revealed but were due for tabling in the current parliamentary meeting.

“Hakam fears that the proposed amendments will most likely have the effect of further stifling freedom of speech online through the usual means of (a) regulating online content; (b) licensing and registration requirements for news providers and bloggers; (c) additional enforcement powers; (d) widening the range of offences; and (e) imposing stiffer fines and harsher penalties for existing offences,” Choi said.

She claimed that over the past two years, Putrajaya has already been interfering with free speech through the increased blocking of media websites, the intensified questioning and arrests of activists, journalists, lawyers and even cartoonists over online content, as well as the passing of tougher laws regulating online expression.

Just last year alone, a total of 1,263 websites were blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) while between January and February this year, a further 399 sites were blocked and 22 people called for questioning, Choi added. Read more

STATEMENT: Online Freedom and Bill to Amend the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA)

pdfSTATEMENT DATED 16 MAY 2016

ONLINE FREEDOM AND BILL TO AMEND THE COMMUNICATIONS AND MULTIMEDIA ACT 1998 (CMA)

HAKAM views with disquiet the news reports that the government plans to further regulate the use of the internet, especially online media, through amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA). The Bill to amend the CMA is expected to be tabled at the next Parliament sitting which commences on 16th May.

The specific CMA amendments sought have not been made public. HAKAM fears that the proposed amendments will most likely have the effect of further stifling freedom of speech online through the usual means of (a) regulating online content; (b) licensing and registration requirements for news providers and bloggers; (c) additional enforcement powers; (d) widening the range of offences; and (e) imposing stiffer fines and harsher penalties for existing offences.

In the past two years, the government had severely interfered with freedom of speech through increased blocking of media websites both local and international, intensified questioning and/or arrests of activists, journalists, lawyers and cartoonists over online content and the passing of a series of tougher laws with stiffer penalties for offences to do with online expression. 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

STATEMENT: Online Freedom and Bill to Amend the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA)

STATEMENT DATED 16 MAY 2016

ONLINE FREEDOM AND BILL TO AMEND THE COMMUNICATIONS AND MULTIMEDIA ACT 1998 (CMA)

HAKAM views with disquiet the news reports that the government plans to further regulate the use of the internet, especially online media, through amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA). The Bill to amend the CMA is expected to be tabled at the next Parliament sitting which commences on 16th May.

The specific CMA amendments sought have not been made public. HAKAM fears that the proposed amendments will most likely have the effect of further stifling freedom of speech online through the usual means of (a) regulating online content; (b) licensing and registration requirements for news providers and bloggers; (c) additional enforcement powers; (d) widening the range of offences; and (e) imposing stiffer fines and harsher penalties for existing offences.

In the past two years, the government had severely interfered with freedom of speech through increased blocking of media websites both local and international, intensified questioning and/or arrests of activists, journalists, lawyers and cartoonists over online content and the passing of a series of tougher laws with stiffer penalties for offences to do with online expression. Read more

Malaysia Considers Caning People Who Reveal State Secrets

Source: WSJ

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—A push by Malaysia’s top law-enforcement official to use a British colonial-era punishment on people who reveal state secrets is dividing the government and sparking concerns in civil society.

Malaysia already administers the punishment—caning—to thousands of people a year who are convicted of crimes such as drug trafficking, rape, robbery and firearms possession. Human-rights groups and others deplore the practice, in which prisoners are whipped with a rattan stick, as inhumane. The government says it reduces recidivism; it hasn’t provided statistics to support that.

Now, as Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration tries to contain a graft scandal at a state investment fund, his attorney general is proposing to also use caning on people found guilty of violating Malaysia’s Official Secrets Act. Under the act, officials can declare any document or information to be secret, restricted or classified. The government has said it suspects secret documents related to the investment fund were leaked. Read more