Police should respect both spirit and letter of MSC Bill of Guarantees of no Internet censorship and stay off Malaysian blogosphere
Media Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Wednesday): Monday’s questioning of blogger Mack Zulkifli by a four-member team, including two police officers and two unidentified government officials, and last month’s police interrogation of blogger Jeff Ooi are disturbing developments, raising questions as to whether they foreshadow a more intrusive police presence in the cyberspace in general and the Malaysian blogosphere in particular with all their intimidatory effects on the responsible exercise of freedom of speech on the Internet.
The Police and all other government authorities should respect both the spirit and letter of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Bill of Guarantees of no Internet censorship and stay off the Malaysian blogosphere unless there are incontrovertible cases of defamation or incitement.
It is outrageous for police and government personnel to descend on a blogger to keep asking, among other things, why he continued blogging if there was no income from it. This not only constituted unwarranted intrusion and intimidation, but shows the police and government agencies as being totally alien to the Internet culture and blog mindset.
The police and the relevant authorities should be very circumspect and cautious in all future actions which can adversely affect public perceptions about the government’s commitment to honour the MSC Bill of Guarantees of no Internet censorship, whether directly or indirectly.
In this connection, the Police should explain why it had itself filed a police report against Jeff Ooi on February 24, invoking Section 198(A) of the Penal Code to interrogate the blogger - four months after the accusation by Berita Harian in its Oct. 2, 2004 edition that he had allowed a reader (named ‘Anwar’) to post disparaging remarks about Islam Hadhari on his weblog, Screenshots – when the Malaysian Communications and Mulitmedia Commission had completed its investigations and submitted the report to the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the file closed?
The Police owes Malaysians and the Internet community in particular a duty of transparency and accountability to explain its own police report against Jeff Ooi four months after the event so as to dispel all perception of police harassment and intimidation of Malaysian bloggers.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman