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Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Chairman Dr Halim Shaife should be removed to demonstrate the government’s commitment towards freedom of information, mass media and no censorship of the internet


Press Statement

by Lim Guan Eng



(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): DAP demands that MCMC Chairman Dr Halim Shafie be immediately removed to demonstrate the government’s commitment towards freedom of information, mass media and no censorship of the internet. As MCMC’s purview includes the internet, for such an important commission to be headed by an enemy of freedom of information is unacceptable.  

DAP MP for Cheras Tan Kok Wai had exposed the directive to all TV stations banning opposition leaders’ news from being broadcast in their news programme. DAP’s expose of such repression and abuse of basic human rights was once again proven true when Malaysiakini published a letter dated June 7 2007 to all TV stations by Dr Halim. In the letter Dr Halim said that, “The government has noted that several private TV and radio stations have been airing speeches by opposition party leaders,” “Your station is requested not to broadcast such speeches in future. Such directive should be implemented immediately.” 

Energy, Water and Communications Minister Dr Lim Keng Yaik then ordered the MCMC to withdraw its directive with immediate effect, saying that MCMC should not have issued such a directive. For a Chairman who does not know how to exercise his powers or the extent of his duties is clearly irresponsible and unfit for such an important post. 

MCMC, a government agency under the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry, is empowered to regulate matters relating to communications and multimedia activities, including private TV and radio stations as well as Internet websites. For Dr Halim to continue as Chairman, the government is sending the wrong signal of its commitment towards the Bill of Guarantees for the Multi-media Super-corridor(MSC) that there shall be no censorship of the internet. 

Amongst the functions of the MCMC are to advise the Minister, to supervise, encourage and promote self-regulation in the communications and multimedia industry. This unsavoury episode raises the question what Dr Halim has done to encourage the development of the industry? How can the MCMC carry out its duties to promote the industry if it sees its main task as the political police of BN to bar opposition leaders news from being aired?  

No wonder the MSC has lost steam and international interest until we rarely hear of any new investments by the world ICT companies. Clearly Dr Halim is totally unqualified not only in term of performance but also in temperament for the onerous position of MCMC Chairman. To push the MSC forward there must be a new Chairman who is not only familiar with the industry but also aware that freedom and creativity not suppression and uniformity is the road to a growing and developed ICT industry.  



* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP

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