The Malaysian Insider to return as The Malaysian Insight

 

HAKAM comment: HAKAM welcomes the return of Jahabar Sadiq and the new TMI (The Malaysian Insight). Media Freedom in Malaysia is only meaningful if there are more players and movers with the 2 essentials : courage and journalistic integrity. Let us support our news men and women, they play an important role in democracy as part of the checks and balances.

Source: The Straits Times

Ex-Malaysian Insider editor Jahabar Sadiq is behind the new venture, The Malaysian Insight. Pic taken from ST.

Ex-Malaysian Insider editor Jahabar Sadiq is behind the new venture, The Malaysian Insight. Pic taken from ST.

The Malaysian Insider, a widely followed online news site that was forced to close just over a year ago by Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration, is set to make a comeback under a new masthead, The Malaysian Insight.

Mr Jahabar Sadiq, former editor of The Malaysian Insider and now the principal mover of the new venture, told The Straits Times that The Malaysian Insight will go online before the end of the month “as a free site before introducing a paywall sometime down the line”.

In a country where the ruling political elite controls most media outlets, Mr Jahabar said the new venture would be independent in its editorial stance, even at the risk of upsetting the government, which forced its closure in March last year because of a story related to the scandal-plagued state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Unlike print publications, which require publishing licences from the government, online media outlets in Malaysia do not require an operating permit.

However, the official Internet watchdog agency, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), has sweeping powers to block sites that are deemed to be acting against the national interest.

Malaysian media analysts said a new player like The Malaysian Insight is likely to shake up the market where print and online news outlets are battling sharp drops in circulation and readership. Read more

Malaysia disconnecting from online freedoms — Susan Leong & Terence Lee

Source: East Asia Forum

BY SUSAN LEONG & TERENCE LEE

Not long ago, the Malaysian government thought that mastery of the internet was a path towards economic development. In February 1996, it launched the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), essentially a special economic zone, to entice high-technology corporations like Microsoft to set up shop in Malaysia.Malaysian children surf the Internet. (Photo: AAP)

To ensure the MSC’s appeal to prospective technology investors, restrictions on both the information technology market and on online expression were loosened. Whereas television, radio and newspapers remained restricted by laws like the Printing Presses and Publications Act, concessions to freedom of business ownership, employment quotas and censorship of the internet were made for the MSC.

Yet recently, two acts — the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA Act) and the Sedition Act — have been used repeatedly to contain the zeal with which Malaysians have taken to the internet. Read more

The press has become too free for the government of Malaysia – Jahabar Sadiq

Source: The Guardian

BY JAHABAR SADIQ

The news portal The Malaysian Insider went offline on the first minute of 15 March 2016 – the Ides of March. With that, 59 staffers, including me, lost our jobs. And Malaysia lost another source of independent news.

But it came nearly three weeks after the internet regulator – the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) – issued a block order against us over a report that claimed the local anti-graft agency had sufficient evidence of a criminal charge against the prime minister Najib Razak, although the country’s attorney-general had cleared him of wrongdoing.

The anti-graft investigations began last July after the Wall Street Journal revealed that nearly US$700m had been found in the prime minister’s bank accounts. Read more

PRESS RELEASE on the Closure of The Malaysian Insider (TMI) [updated]

PRESS RELEASE DATED 15 MARCH 2016

ON CLOSURE OF THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER (TMI)

 

HAKAM laments the fact that one of the factors, aside from commercial considerations – which has prompted the closure of the TMI – was its prolonged blocking by the government. According to its chief editor-director, Jahabar Sadiq, no clear reasons nor notification have to-date been given for this drastic anti-media act.

It is widely acknowledged that TMI provided balanced reporting consonant with the highest professional journalistic standards throughout its existence these past 8 years. The government’s undemocratic action to shut out critical reporting, especially as related to the notorious scandals, shames us in the eyes of all right thinking people; and denigrates our standing in the international community.

We urge the government to rethink its repressive stance against media freedom as it undermines and subverts the rule of law – a fundamental and non-negotiable precept of our Rukun Negara.

TMI’s closure date – 14th March 2016 – will go down in the annals of media freedom as a dark and dreary spot.

 

Issued on behalf of HAKAM Executive Committee

Ambiga Sreenevasan
President, HAKAM
&
Robyn Choi
Secretary-General, HAKAM

 

static-graphic_thankyoutmi_140316_tmi_heza-2

Read more

PRESS RELEASE on the Closure of The Malaysian Insider (TMI) [updated]

pdf


PRESS RELEASE DATED 15 MARCH 2016
ON CLOSURE OF THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER (TMI)

 

HAKAM laments the fact that one of the factors, aside from commercial considerations – which has prompted the closure of the TMI – was its prolonged blocking by the government. According to its chief editor-director, Jahabar Sadiq, no clear reasons nor notification have to-date been given for this drastic anti-media act.

It is widely acknowledged that TMI provided balanced reporting consonant with the highest professional journalistic standards throughout its existence these past 8 years. The government’s undemocratic action to shut out critical reporting, especially as related to the notorious scandals, shames us in the eyes of all right thinking people; and denigrates our standing in the international community.

We urge the government to rethink its repressive stance against media freedom as it undermines and subverts the rule of law – a fundamental and non-negotiable precept of our Rukun Negara.

TMI’s closure date – 14th March 2016 – will go down in the annals of media freedom as a dark and dreary spot.

 

Issued on behalf of HAKAM Executive Committee

Ambiga Sreenevasan
President, HAKAM
&
Robyn Choi
Secretary-General, HAKAM

 

static-graphic_thankyoutmi_140316_tmi_heza-2

Read more

Democracy fades in Malaysia and Turkey as leaders crack down

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

It’s an unfortunate fact that there are very few successful, secular democracies among Muslim-majority nations. Sadly, two of this rare breed are now in the process of failing.

If Malaysia and Turkey continue sliding towards authoritarianism, it will put democracies in the Islamic world on the list of endangered species. And they are sliding. In the past 10 days, the governments in both countries shut down media outlets that dared report unflattering facts about their leaders.

And when peaceful protesters marched on the weekend to object to the shutdown of Turkey’s biggest opposition newspaper, Zaman, the police turned water cannon and tear gas on them.

<i>Illustration: John Shakespeare.</i>

Illustration: John Shakespeare.

In Malaysia it was the country’s most popular news website, The Malaysian Insider or TMI, that was blocked by the government. The next day Prime Minister Najib Razak tried to justify the blatant censorship by writing that it was “unhealthy journalism” to have news portals that were “constructing their own version of ‘reality'”.

It’s a sure sign of the dictator’s mindset – only one version of reality may be allowed to exist, and that’s the version officially sanctioned by the ruler. Read more

Online media repression likely to worsen, says lawyer

Source: The Malaysian Outsider

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan speaks during forum on Media Shackled, Democarcy Dead? at KLSCAH, Kuala Lumpur on March 4, 2016. The Malaysian Insider/Seth Akmal.

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan speaks during forum on Media Shackled, Democarcy Dead? at KLSCAH, Kuala Lumpur on March 4, 2016. The Malaysian Insider/Seth Akmal.

Putrajaya’s media clampdown is likely to worsen, lawyer Syahredzan Johan says, as the federal government already has plans for tougher regulations on online content.

He said amendments to the Sedition Act last year, though not yet in force, would allow the deputy public prosecutor (DPP) to obtain court orders to instruct websites to remove content deemed seditious.

“Last year, there was (an) amendment to the Sedition Act, once it comes into force, the DPP can actually go to court and get a prohibition order and get websites to take down so-called seditious content.

“And they don’t even need to prove that the content is seditious, all they need to show is that it appears seditious,” he said at forum titled “Media shackled, democracy dead?” in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Read more

After US concern, Foreign Ministry says media must practise free speech responsibly

Source: The Malay Mail Online

malaysian_insider_blocked_620_348_100KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 — Malaysia upholds the right to free speech and information, but its people are accountable for how they practise it, Wisma Putra said today in response to Washington DC’s recent concern over a perceived crackdown on local media.

In defence of the government’s ban on local news portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI), the Foreign Ministry said the decision had been made with due consideration to safeguard the country.

“While Malaysia upholds the freedom of speech and right to information, such freedom and right must be exercised responsibly and with accountability.

“The Government of Malaysia has a responsibility to maintain peace, stability, and harmony in the country and to safeguard the multiracial and multicultural values, norms and practices in Malaysia,” the ministry said in a statement issued late tonight. Read more

Freedom of Speech is not absolute

Source: The Star Online

Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak pointed out that even Western countries have laws to regulate matters concerning ‘slander, defamation, degrading, racism, sexism, and so on.’ — Bernama pic

Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak — Bernama pic

PETALING JAYA: Freedom of speech and the expressing of one’s opinion must be treated as a privilege rather than an absolute right, says Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak.

“And privileges, if abused, can sometimes be withdrawn. There is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech,” the Communications and Multimedia Minister said in a blog post on Thursday.

Read more

Misuse of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 to Stifle Freedom of Speech and Expression Must End – Malaysian Bar

Press Release

Misuse of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998
to Stifle Freedom of Speech and Expression Must End

The Malaysian Bar is aghast at the decision of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (“MCMC”) — pursuant to Sections 233 and 263(2) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (“CMA”) — to deny public access to The Malaysian Insider (“TMI”) online news portal indefinitely.

MCMC announced the decision in its statement dated 25 February 2016, without giving any specific reason.  However, it appears that MCMC has taken action against TMI because TMI allegedly published matters that have caused confusion.  MCMC has not identified the offending publication(s) by TMI that caused this purported confusion.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Mohd Salleh Tun Said Keruak has reportedly said that TMI has been blocked as one of the articles published by it “… quoted a statement that could cause confusion because it contradicts with official statements by MACC.  They don’t mention who the source is.  It could confuse the public.”[1]

Causing public confusion is not, and cannot be, an offence under Section 233 of the CMA.  MCMC’s reliance on Section 233 for its action against TMI is therefore without any basis, and   oppressive.  It is quite puzzling that anyone could consider causing public confusion to be an offence at all.  It is also rather demeaning and offensive to assume that Malaysians will be “confused” merely as a result of contradictory statements in the press, or because the source of press statements was not disclosed. Read more