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Malaysia: Good news, garnished with salt

Categories: Malaysia

In light of the its aim to encourage the people to use the internet as a means of disseminating information, the Malaysian government has restored access to the Malaysia Today news portal, together with the other sites which have been blocked since January 2008.

Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor

According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) [1], more than 100 websites have been blocked since January 2008 because their content insults religions or cheats consumers, which infringes the MCMC’s regulations.

However, Energy, Water & Communications Minister, Shaziman Abu Mansor (pic right), was reported [2] to have revealed that, although the government feels that existing laws were sufficient to handle Malaysian misconduct on the internet, swifter enforcement is necessary. Apparently, a committee comprising representatives from the MCMC, the police, the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Home Ministry, is planned to be established [2] to monitor websites, especially those reputed for alleged seditious or racially sensitive content. He said,

In the United States, if a website publishes actionable content, within minutes the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) would come in and seize all equipment to secure evidence. Maybe we can move towards that direction,

According to reports [2], Shaziman said the cabinet has asked the Attorney-General’s Chambers to speed up the prosecution against website operators, whose website contents are allegedly seditious, or incite racial hatred or insult any religion, if there is sufficient evidence to do so.

On the other hand, the authorities have not been remiss in taking action against online journalists. For example, Malaysiakini [3], Malaysia’s oldest online alternative news repository, has been raided [4] a number of times during the course of the last decade.

Click here [5] for a list of action against the media, both online and off, in 2006.