02 Sep 2023, Malaysiakini
Deputy Communications and Digital Minister Teo Nie Ching said the ministry welcomes discussions towards more transparency surrounding the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) procedure in blocking websites.
“I think that (discussion) is a good idea. Our doors are always open,” Teo said during a press conference at Kampung Orang Asli Sg Temon, Pulai, Johor, today.
“We have no problems holding dialogues with groups and stakeholders, for us to review MCMC’s procedure before any action (to block websites) will be taken,” said Teo (above).
Her comments today follow a call from international NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil to end a wave of censorship targeting online news websites.
On Thursday, RSF’s Asia-Pacific bureau director Cédric Alviani expressed concern over MCMC’s arbitrary access restrictions imposed without any explanations or judicial control against news websites described as being critical of the government.
Teo, however, noted that MCMC will typically act upon requests from the police to block access to specific sites, aside from cracking down on alleged “fake news”.
“It is very easy to spread ‘fake news’ but sharing subsequent clarifications will often be not as effective.
“Fake news can be disseminated six times faster than any clarifications […] In certain cases we need to take swift action (to block),” said Teo.
Since June, the affected websites are MalaysiaNow, UtusanTV, and TV Pertiwi.
This is despite Fahmi’s pledge that media websites would not be blocked while an investigation is still ongoing.
On Wednesday, former Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong was granted leave by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to file a judicial review against the MCMC for blocking access to his blog.
The MCMC has declined to comment on specific cases but said it is duty-bound to stop any offence under Malaysian law from taking place online, which includes tackling misinformation, offensive content, and defamation.
Starlink for Orang Asli
Meanwhile, Teo and Deputy International Trade and Investments Minister Liew Chin Tong visited a site at the Orang Asli village where MCMC had installed a Starlink satellite device to boost Internet connection.
She said the satellite device will serve as a temporary solution while the government works to strengthen Malaysia’s connection frequency against neighbouring Singapore.
“Because the location of the village is very close to Singapore, automatically the connection will detect the stronger frequency,” she explained, adding that it has posed problems for local villagers.
Teo said Kg Orang Asli Sg Tenom was the fourth site chosen to receive the Starlink satellite, with future installations soon in rural Sarawak ahead of Sept 16 Malaysia Day celebrations.
The initial idea for MCMC to procure 30 Starlink satellite devices was derived through an online video conference between Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and SpaceX chief executive officer Elon Musk on July 14.