Malaysia : Authorities order ISPs to block access to Malaysia Today news website



    MONTREAL, Aug. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders calls on the
Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to immediately
rescind the order it issued on 26 August to TMNet, the country's biggest ISP,
and to 20 other Malaysia ISPs to block access to the Malaysia Today news
website (http://www.malaysia-today.net).
    "With the media subject to close government control, websites constitute
one of the few areas of free speech in Malaysia," Reporters Without Borders
said. "We remind the commission that under the rules of democracy, only a
court should be able to censor a website. This order, which was not the result
of any complaint brought before the courts, is not only questionable but also
disproportionate, as it was issued because of comments posted on the site
about the articles. We call for Malaysia Today to be unblocked at once."
    The website has been notified that it is being blocked under section 263
of the Communications and Multimedia Act, which says an ISP must obey a
written request from the commission "in the national interest." However,
section 3 of the same law says: "Nothing in this act shall be construed as
permitting the censorship of the Internet."
    The government also undertook to "ensure that there is no Internet
censorship" in the charter of the "Multimedia Super Corridor," a business
consortium formed on the initiative of the ministry of communications with the
aim of promoting new technologies. The government endorsed the charter in
1996.
    Nazri Abdul Aziz, a minister with responsibility for justice, said in
July 2007 that the government would not hesitate to use the Internal Security
Act against online activists. Under the ISA, someone who is deemed to have
threatened state security can be held without trial for two years.
    Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin has created a "mirror" website
at which Malaysia Today can still be accessed from within Malaysia. Its
address is http://mt.harapanmalaysia.com. Aged 58 and known as "RPK," Raja
Petra is the country's first online journalist to be charged under the 1948
Sedition Act. He was arrested on 6 May for linking a senior government
official to the murder of a young woman. He was released on bail three days
later and is due to appear in court on 10 September. He faces a possible
three-year sentence for violating a Sedition Act provision that outlaws
inciting "hatred, doubt or contempt" for any government leader or member.
    Malaysia is ranked 124th out of 169 countries in the Reporters Without
Borders world press freedom index.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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