(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The Home Ministry’s ban, as announced by Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung, of Malaysiakini from covering government events on the ground that the government does not recognise Internet newspapers can only make Malaysia a laughing stock in the IT world and raises the question whether the country has the mind-set, culture and the leadership calibre to take the quantum leap into the information age and become an IT power.
One would not be surprised if such a “head-in-the-sand”-ostrich position is taken by reactionary regimes like the Myanmar military junta, but it is unbelievable for the government of a country like Malaysia which is trying to be in the front rank of IT powers to take such an antideluvian attitude.
Although the Barisan Nasional government’s latest action against Malaysiakini is not unexpected, as Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders cannot tolerate the existence of independent or critical media, whether print, electronic or Internet, Chor should not try to “split hairs” and explain it as a logical consequence of the application of the Printing Presses and Publications Act, on the ground that malaysiakini cannot be considered a newspaper as it does not have a publication licence and therefore not entitled to media accreditation to attend government functions.
It is Chor’s right if he wants the country to know that there is a Deputy Home Minister who is still in the “Rip Van Winkle” state of mind and not woken up to the fast-changing IT world, but a completely different matter when he embarrasses the country when he gives the world the impression that the Malaysian government is in a similar “Rip Van Winkle” sleep-mode.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should direct Chor to stop the nonsense of barring malaysiakini from covering government functions - which also gives the further impression that Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders are afraid of facing reporters who dare to ask probing questions.
However, even more serious are the far-reaching implications of
the ban on malaysiakini from government functions in imperilling
the success of the multi-billion ringgit Malaysia Super Corridor, which
is already facing difficulties,
for the ban on online newspapers tantamounts to a violation of the MSC Bill of Guarantee of no Internet censorship.
Is the MSC finally going to fail because of the antediluvian mentality and mindset of the Barisan Nasional leaders in Cabinet and government, who just do not understand or are inherently hostile to an information society and a K-economy?