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Media statement by Teresa Kok Suh Sim in Shah Alam on Wednesday, 26th January 2011:

Home Ministry's regressive move to expand the scope of the oppressive PPPA to cover the Internet further constricts our constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression

I am disgusted with but not surprised by the Home Ministry's regressive plans to expand the scope of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) to cover online "publications" such as blogs, Youtube and even the private space that is Facebook.

This move is not surprising because the Government is increasingly threatened by the rise and rise of online media as an agent for change and democratization in Malaysia, as demonstrated by the watershed March 2008 election results.

Therefore, the Government's rush to have the amendments passed by the Dewan Rakyat in March 2011 is but yet another measure to further strangle the voice of the people and tighten the Government's control prior to the Sarawak state elections and the upcoming general elections, plunging Malaysia further towards being an authoritarian regime.

The Home Ministry's excuses of wanting to "plug loopholes" and "correct weaknesses" are nothing but a sham to further violate Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which promises citizens the right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Moreover, these new restrictions renege upon former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir's promise to "ensure no internet censorship" when he signed the Multimedia Super Corridor Bill of Guarantees in 1997, damaging our credibility among existing and potential investors in Malaysia. Can you hear the investors packing their bags and shifting their capital already?

Furthermore, the increased restrictions are in complete contradiction with Prime Minister Najib's clarion call of putting "People First". All it does is expose Najib's invitation to all Malaysians to engage with him via his blog, FaceBook and #tanyanajib on Twitter to be nothing more than a publicity stunt which has already made him look ridiculous as it is. Najib does not sincerely expect the "People" to give him honest feedback, or even criticism, if he reserves the right to punish them with the ominous PPPA.

If the Home Ministry insists upon tabling the amendments, I urge Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein to allow adequate time - months, not weeks - to sufficiently brief the public and hold public consultation with MPs, NGOs and the rakyat for the proposed PPPA amendments to have any credibility, if it should proceed at all.

Failing which, Hishamuddin once again reinforces the common belief that Najib's "People First, Performance Now", is just hollow sloganeering with no substance whatsoever.

* Teresa Kok Suh Sim, Selangor State Senior EXCO for Investment, Industry & Trade & MP for Seputeh



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