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Has Malaysian Parliament become the world’s No. 1 anti-bloggers Parliament?

Media Statement        
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Wednesday): Less than 24 hours of an assurance by the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that the government has not made a “special decision” to clamp down on bloggers, two pronouncements were made contradicting it and heralding such a clampdown. 

One was made by Najib himself and the other by the “de facto” Law Minister, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz who declared a war against bloggers in the last sitting of Senate yesterday during the winding up of the debate on the Electronic Government Activities Bill 2007. 

Declaring that “The time for talk is over, now is the time to act”, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri said the government would be taking legal action against bloggers who flagrantly belittled Islam or the Yang di Pertuan Agong. 

He said that apart from the three laws that could be used against the bloggers, the Internal Security Act, Sedition Act and Section 121b of the Penal Code, the government was also looking at formulating new laws allowing it to monitor and act against offending bloggers in areas not provided by these legislation. 

Speaking at the Malaysian Press Institute Press Awards Night, Najib said the government was deeply troubled by the growth of "irresponsible" alternative media.

It is sad that the Senate yesterday was turned into an anti-bloggers forum marking an administration which is unable to live up to the 2004 general election pledge of an open, accountable and transparent governance. 

Why was there not a single Senator yesterday to stand up to caution restraint, moderation, reason and sanity instead of allowing the blogging bashing to run full steam, with the Umno Information chief, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib who had lodged a police report against Raja Petra Kamaruddin, webmaster of the Malaysia Today news portal, singing an anti-bloggers duet with Nazri? 

Has the Malaysian Parliament become the world’s No.1 anti-bloggers Parliament? 

Apart from taking action against bloggers for flagrantly belittling Islam or the Yang di Pertuan Agong, what are the other “offences” which would be regarded as fair play for the blogging clampdown? 

The anti-bloggers invectives by Umno leaders suffer from a serious credibility problem as to their real motives, as  

  • firstly,  there is the question whether there is any basis for Muhammad’s police report that Malaysia Today had been guilty of belittling Islam and the Yang di Pertuan Agong; and

  • secondly, whether this was just an excuse for Umno leaders to launch a crackdown against Raja Petra and Malaysia Today  because of their  series of  exposes of abuses of power and corruption implicating high-level leaders in Umno, Barisan Nasional, the police and the public service.

As the series of exposes of abuses of power and corruption implicating high-level leaders in Umno, Barisan Nasional, the police and the public service had never been taken seriously by the government, whether by way of a full public investigation or through defamation suits by the aggrieved individuals, the grave credibility question about the ulterior motive and real agenda of the crackdown on Raja Petra and Malaysia Today must be answered satisfactory by the powers-that-be. 

This is the first question the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must answer on his return to his duties on Friday from his private holidays in Australia.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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