Undemocratic and counterproductive to block critical websites and blogs
28 January 2016
Lawyers for Liberty views with extreme concern the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) heavy handed and liberal use of its powers to block numerous websites and blogs critical of the government, especially on issues concerning 1MDB, corruption and Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Sarawak Report’s website was blocked in July 2015 and since then Malaysia Chronicle, regional news website Asia Sentinel, online publication platform Medium, and most recently local blog sites: syedsoutsidethebox, tabunginsider, jinggo-fotopages, and Din Turtle were also blocked.
There are no good and valid reasons for blocking these websites and blogs other than a desperate attempt to stem the flow of critical news and information. Such behaviour is undemocratic, a grave abuse of power and in breach of the ‘no-Internet-censorship’ policy which is protected in both the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and MSC Malaysia’s Bill of Guarantees.
Further, such attempts are futile and ineffective as their exposés will continue to be reported by other press, blogs and disseminated on social media. It is also counterproductive as these attempts to silence will themselves become news and bring into sharp focus the exposés the authorities were trying to block in the first place.
We also note with extreme concern that such crude tactics are not new, as in the recent past, The Edge, The Malaysian Insider, Malaysiakini and other independent press had also been targeted with investigations and arrests.
The authorities must be reminded that real crimes are not to be found online in news websites, blogs and on social media. It would be more prudent for the authorities to come to terms with the reality of the Internet and social media rather than resorting to penal laws or harsh enforcement methods that are inconsistent with modern democratic demands.
We call upon the MCMC to immediately revoke all blocking orders against such critical websites and blogs.
Lawyers for Liberty
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