Mahathir on the rampage - next target after ISA crackdown  is assault on the MSC Bill of Guarantee of no internet censorship

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad appears to have resumed direct charge of the Home Ministry from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his rampage against civil liberties after his menacing speech in Parliament on the Third Outline Perspective Plan (2001-2010) early this month where he made clear that the government was prepared to be an international pariah and break from "so-called international norms" on human rights and democratic practices.

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.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman