After the Internal Security Act crackdown against the Reformasi Seven, the next target of Mahathir’s rampage is the Internet and he even appears to be ready to mount an assault on the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Bill of Guarantee of no internet censorship.
He yesterday denounced “total freedom of the press”, saying messages have been posted on the Internet calling for him to be killed.
I have not seen such Internet messages calling for the assassination of Mahathir, but if there are such messages, I would be the first to denounce them.
However, even if there are such despicable and contemptible messages, especially considering the nature of Internet, they can be no excuse for any further clampdown on what is left of freedom of expression and for a major assault on Internet free speech, which would put at risk the entire MSC and country’s future as a knowledge economy and information society.
Mahathir should also stop indulging in his perverted illogic when he said: "Press freedom means you do anything that you like. You tell lies, you abuse people, you urge people to kill each other, that's press freedom. We don't like that kind of press freedom."
I challenge Mahathir to name a single Barisan Alternative leader who had ever advocated this version of “press freedom”.
Mahathir’s announcement of the government’s intention to amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act, not to make it more liberal but even more draconian to “restore its relevancy", represents the greatest threat to freedom of speech and expression and a free press in the entire nation’s history.