Firstly, Geramm would like to wish The Malaysian Insider a happy eigth birthday. Kudos for existing in the Malaysian media landscape.
Yesterday, the journalism world was shocked after they found out that TMI was inaccessible from the state-owned internet provider, Unifi, Celcom and, in some cases, U Mobile.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said the reason for their doing so (without prior notice) is that TMI is being a “threat to national security” with its content allegedly in violation of Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1988.
The internet regulator also warned other news portals not to publish unverified articles as they could cause confusion and create an unwarranted situation.
The statement, however, did not say how TMI had flouted Section 233.
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According to the MCMC website, Section 233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 is for improper use of network facilities or network services.
Geramm is disheartened by the block as it is seen to be unclear, unsubstantiated and unfair.
Time and time again, it shows that the powers that be decide to use their powers without even considering better and fairer alternatives.
The clamping down on news publications is the direct opposite of a healthy democracy.
If a report is lodged, there are enough existing provisions in the law without resorting to blocking access to the website.
Furthermore, it just creates more dissatisfaction and contempt among the public.
This morning, it was reported that TMI’s editor-in-chief Jahabar Sadiq will be called by the police to explain a news report on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) oversight panel. It is said that the report has “confused” people.
Jahabar has confirmed that he, along with five others including a sub-editor and journalist who wrote the story, will be going to Bukit Aman at 3pm today.
The action yesterday, if it was caused by their reporting of the said news, should be handled better.
Notice should be served and ample warning given in due diligence of the law instead of immediately blocking the site.
Geramm also notes with concern that the action may be linked to a report quoting anonymous sources.
In this case, we urge the authorities to respect the media’s right to use and protect the identity of anonymous sources.
Geramm also calls upon the authorities for the investigations regarding the case to be fair and just, without antagonising any media especially journalists who are only doing their job.
Geramm is a loose coalition of journalists, media representatives and activists who are fighting for freedom of the press and its practitioners.