Keep online speech free — Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Daily

BY GURDIAL SINGH NIJAR
(Deputy President, HAKAM)

FORTY-SIX people are facing possible imprisonment and fines for sending online messaging to others. Through tweets, SMS, WhatsApp, blogs and the like. Cartoonists, politicians, activists and the like have all been hauled up.

This is under section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. It is a crime to send a public electronic message that is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person. The offender can be jailed for up to one year or fined RM50,000 or both; as well as a further fine of RM1,000 for every day the offence is continued after conviction.

How really can you measure whether or not a message is annoying or menacing? And who decides? These terms are not defined. Nor any criteria spelt out to guide people.

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