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Media Statement (3) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 6th August 2009: 

Horror of horrors - BN government wants to put up Internet filter blocking “undesirable websites” in total violation of the MSC guarantee of no internet censorship!

I had tweeted: “Horror of horrors. BN govt wants Internet filter 2block ‘undesirable websites. Dear Rais - "Et tu Brutus"? M's MSC guarantee?”

This must be the common reaction of Malaysians, particularly in the Malaysian cybersphere, blogosphere and twitterverse to the Malaysian Insider report that the Malaysian government is evaluating the feasibility of putting an Internet filter to block “undesirable websites” — similar to China's aborted "Green Dam" software.

Malaysian Insider reported that the Minister for Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim is commissioning a study which is to be completed in December to filter blogs and websites.

Rais’ Ministry had initiated a tender exercise calling for companies to put proposals to assist the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) evaluate an Internet filter.

The Malaysian Insider reported that the tender documents require the tenderer to:

  • evaluate the readiness and feasibility for the implementation of Internet filter at Internet gateway level, through assessments on the existing infrastructure and existing products in the market.

  • evaluate and estimate costs for the implementation.

  • study the existing legal framework in addressing content filtering and no censorship issue, including the impacts that are caused by the implementation to Internet users and the Malaysian economy.

The successful tenderer is also to visit Internet services providers (ISPs) and question them on various issues apart from studying countries which have some form of Internet filters to study the suitability for the Malaysian environment. Among the recommended countries are India, Pakistan, Australia and Hong Kong.

It is most shocking that Rais, who is generally regarded as the most level-headed and liberal of the existing Cabinet Ministers, is spearheading a move which will not only bury the government’s pledge to the world of “No Censorship” in the MultiMedia Super Corridor (MSC) Bill of Guarantees announced by Tun Dr. Mahathir in his heyday as Prime Minister, but will be seen as a turnaway from an Open Society and retreat to a Closed Society with all the grave long-term political, economic and nation-building implications.

I call on all Barisan Nasional Ministers, leaders and component parties to take a stand to uphold the MSC Guarantee of “No Censorship” by stopping the tender exercise to instal an Internet filter to censor blogs and websites. The Cabinet next week should veto the tender exercise for an Internet filter.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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