Syed Hamid tells why Malaysia Today was blocked

KUALA LUMPUR: The controversial Malaysia Today news portal was blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM) because its editor ignored many warning letters, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said.

“When they publish things that are libellous, slanderous or defamatory, it is natural for the SKMM to act against these websites whenever necessary,” he told a a press conference at Parliament lobby yesterday. Syed Hamid said SKMM was only exercising its powers. “We do not intend to curtail people’s freedom or right to express themselves. Everyone is subjected to the law, even websites and blogs,” he added.

On Wednesday, Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin lashed out against the blocking of the online portal, saying it was a breach of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) charter. Under the MSC Malaysia 10-Point Bill of Guarantees, the Government promised to “ensure no Internet censorship”. It was reported that all 21 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country had been ordered by SKMM to block the controversial website.

The notices were sent out on Tuesday in accordance with Section 263 of the Communications and Multimedia Act. Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum, the Deputy Minister of Energy, Water and Communications, said he was not aware that SKMM had ordered ISPs to block the website. “I do not read Malaysia Today. Media practitioners must be sensitive to culture and religion,” he said.

Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek declined comment as it was not under his jurisdiction. SKMM chief operating officer Mohamed Sharil Mohamed Tarmizi, who is overseas, declined to elaborate, saying a press conference would be held to explain why such action was taken. It is understood that this is not the first time SKMM has ordered a website to be blocked.
Malaysia Today remains accessible through its mirror website.

-the star online

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