Posts Tagged ‘bloggers rights’

Malaysia stops censoring bloggers

So, the MCMC decided to come to their senses and scrap blocking websites. Internet censorship only lasted a few weeks (read previously Malaysia starts censoring bloggers). Of course, to control the victim of the latest censorship act, they used the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), but that’s a whole other matter.

Its interesting to see how many people came around, and the amount of press/attention this whole censorship thing brought. Here’s a quick summary:

  • SKMM not ordered to block access to website in where we find out that there are 127 websites and blogs that have been blocked for contravening various sections of the Act.
  • MCMC – how to make a complaint – this is a useful website. Why? Because you can write complaints, or fax them, and get the MCMC to respond. They have to, I’m told, so if you feel strongly about an issue, this is the right place to hit up the next time such craziness hits.
  • Dr M slams ‘blocking’ of Malaysia Today in where he expresses his disgust (on his blog, nonetheless!) about the censorship of the Internet. Quote: “… action exposed “a degree of oppressive arrogance worthy of a totalitarian state”, and that the Government would soon lose credibility and respect among the people.” Well, under his rule, I’d not be surprised if the ISA was used sooner… but whole other matter, right?
  • Reporters without borders picked up on it.
  • The Edge reported on it, and this takes the cake, because they were accusing “comments” – “MCMC chief operating officer Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi was quoted as saying the regulator ordered the block because it found that “some of the comments on the website were insensitive, bordering on incitement”.”
  • Google, Go Away! – Rocky, tells Google to not build their multi-billion dollar data centre in Malaysia. Its been a long standing rumour that they planned to do this for a while
  • SKMM: M’sia Today block order stands, probe underway in where they are deciding which Section of the Act to pick on, and where The Star decides to be relevant and links to the mirror site!

Well, the dark days of Internet censorship are averted. Bloggers beware though, the use of claims of libel, sedition, or just the ISA, might be around the corner. I love how ABC news mentions “a journalist, a blogger and a Member of Parliament” when they cover the recent ISA arrests. A blogger.

Right to act against Malaysia-Today?

Now, it seems like there are only 19 ISPs, from the previous 21.

Malaysia Today Mirror/Alternate URL Information
Malaysia-Today IP:
Malaysia-Today alternate URL:
Start using OpenDNS to avoid the pain. read more…

The Star is reporting:

“Everyone is subject to the law, even websites and blogs,” said Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.

“We do not intend to curtail people’s freedom or right to express themselves.

“But when they publish things that are libellous, slanderous or defamatory, it is natural for SKMM to act,” he said in Parliament lobby on Thursday.

No Syed Albar, you are wrong (re: natural for SKMM to act). When something is libellous, slanderous, or defamatory, you tell them to remove the content, failing which, you take them to court, file a civil suit against them, and see what happens at the hand of the law. You do not censor the Internet. This is exactly what is happening to Raja Petra – he’s being charged for criminal defamation (and probably more?).

Syed Albar goes on to add, as reported in Malaysiakini:

He defended blocking access to Malaysia Today that has attacked top leaders, saying it had ignored warnings against publishing “slanderous” articles.

That’s really the crux of the problem. Malaysia for the longest time, under the iron fisted rule of Mahathir, never questioned leaders in the open. Those that did, were put behind bars, under the ISA (thanks to things like the Printing Presses Act, etc.) Of course, exposure to the rest of the world, and the Internet, has helped shape the people to become much braver.

Now, everyone’s playing the blame game (or pretending to be dumb):

  • Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum, Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister was not aware – he thinks they may have brief the Minister, but definitely not him. Where’s the Minister? In Bali. On vacation?
  • Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Information Minister says he’s aware but its not under his jurisdiction

Picking on Section 263, while ignoring Section 3 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998:

(3) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting the censorship of the Internet.

Also via Malaysiakini:

“The commission and the government should acknowledge that the problem at hand is the failure of the mainstream media to fulfil its duties in reporting information adequately, truthfully and fairly and not go on a witch hunt of content providers in cyberspace, which holds the only meaningful free space for critical and challenging expression in Malaysia.”

A wise statement executed by V Gayathry from the Centre for Independent Journalism.

Bloggers' Rights at EFF

Not unprecedented
The Star goes on to report that the MCMC has done this previously before, for websites involved in fraudulent investment schemes, last year. From that list, and still work – so did they remove the DNS block, or do they set a time for it to expire? When such firms exist, you don’t block their websites – you take them to court for violating the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (commonly referred to as BAFIA), and shut them down, I believe.

Jaring shines thru
Its worth noting that while TMNet/Streamyx has complied (they have the biggest market penetration for DSL users), Jaring (the oldest ISP in Malaysia) hasn’t (hopefully its not a yet, I just hope they ignore the directive – a feisty Dr. MAL still being there?). and still resolve the regular website.

The blogosphere aloud
Jeff Ooi has called for the hanging of the idiots @ MCMC. Lim Kit Siang has chimed in. LiewCF is telling people how to bypass the blocks. Daniel from Global Voices Online asks What exactly is sedition?.

If you have any more interesting links, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on this post. If someone has a copy of the circular sent to the ISPs, it will make for a public shaming.

Malaysia Today Mirror

Malaysia-Today IP:
Malaysia-Today alternate URL:
Start using OpenDNS to avoid the more…

Mainstream media, always picking up things late. I’ve already suggested that they may soon be irrelevant as they’re only propaganda machinery, governed by the Minister of Propaganda (current ruling BN – go read George Orwell).

The Star is reporting that all ISPs ordered to cut access to the Malaysia Today site. Apparently, Malaysia has 21 ISPs – who knew, this? It goes on to say:

The notices were sent out on Tuesday in accordance with Section 263 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.

“This means that MCMC is allowed to block any particular website which has committed acts that contravene the local laws of the country, for example, sedition,” the source said.

Read ACT 588 – COMMUNICATIONS AND MULTIMEDIA ACT 1998 if you’re so inclined. If bored, the MCMC has a list of Acts that come under their purview.

Raja Petra hosts the site in a MyLoca data centre… owned and operated by TMNet. What’s next, turning off his tubes?

I don’t particularly read RPK, but I do find it disturbing that they’ve chosen to censor the Internet. In his usual flamboyant self, RPK says:

“The Government has clearly broken its own promise,” said Raja Petra yesterday. Asked whether he was notified of the reasons of the blocking, he answered no.

“I will turn this into a big issue, no doubt. When it is known that the Government has violated the charter, MSC will die. I will personally see to it,” he said.

Bloggers' Rights at EFF

Companies, thinking about coming to Malaysia, using the MSC status? Think twice… its starting to seem more and more like Beijing. I like how he says the “MSC will die” – the way I look at it, the MSC never took off as the then Prime Minister, Mahathir said it would. You don’t hear Cyberjaya being synonymous with Bangalore, do you? Topic for discussion, another day.

I urge more people to put up EFF badges supporting bloggers rights. Don’t let this wannabe-autocratic government take over.

N/B: Title says “mirror” as opposed to alternate URL… It makes it easier for indexing, afaik.

Malaysia starts censoring bloggers

Today, is one that I consider, a dark day in Malaysian Internet history. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), ordered all ISPs to block access to a website, thereby violating the MSC Bill of Guarantees, which clearly states: Ensure no Internet censorship.

Malaysiakini reports (subscription required, so relevant bits pasted here):

MCMC chief operating officer Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi, when contacted today, confirmed that the block was ordered by the commission, which is the regulatory body for online content.

“It is being blocked because we found that some of the comments on the website were insensitive, bordering on incitement,” he told Malaysiakini.

Malaysiakini goes on to add, that this is the first time something like this has been used against non-pornographic websites. I will argue that this shouldn’t even be used on pornographic websites – sure it may flaunt the laws of the country, but leave it to the end-user, please.

It’s just a DNS blackhole, so its not quite Internet censorship… But this makes you feel so much closer to Beijing now, doesn’t it?

lovegood:~ byte$ dig

; < <>> DiG 9.4.2-P1 < <>>
;; global options: printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER< <- opcode: QUERY, status: NXDOMAIN, id: 25306 ;; flags: qr aa rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 0, AUTHORITY: 1, ADDITIONAL: 0 ;; QUESTION SECTION: ; IN A ;; AUTHORITY SECTION: 3600 IN SOA ns1.blocked. 1 900 600 86400 3600 ;; Query time: 17 msec ;; SERVER: ;; WHEN: Wed Aug 27 23:33:57 2008 ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 104

TMNet has a known list of DNS servers, the most common being: and Apparently, some also get on and There are a bunch more that you can get, too.

Malaysiakini goes on to report:

Mohamed Sharil said MCMC had instructed all ISPs to block access to Malaysia Today based on complaints received by the general public regarding offensive comments posted on the website.

Asked if the move to block Malaysia Today went against the government’s guarantee of Internet freedom, he said that the matter was subject to interpretation.

“We are governed by the Communications and Multimedia Act (1998) which allows us to take preventive measures and advise our license holders (such as ISPs) when a service user may be contravening national laws,” he said.

Under Section 263 of the Act, a licensee must “use his best endeavour” to prevent his/her facilities from being used to violate any law in the country”.

Mohamed Sharil said that MCMC will be communicating with the Malaysia Today owner Raja Petra Kamaruddin and other blog owners soon regarding “ethical blogging”.

“We are not against blogs, but we would like to see ethical blogging,” he stressed.

Ethical blogging. Expect yet another blog post on this, soon. In a country where mainstream media is stifled, and used as a propaganda machine, its no wonder people turn to the Internet. If the mainstream media reports “lies”, why not the Internet? The people, the rakyat are smart enough to distinguish, in this non-communist state of ours.

So, if you need your Malaysia Today fix, the IP address is still valid – For commenting, try

Bloggers' Rights at EFF

For the smarter ones amongst you, I suggest you stop using TMNet’s DNS services. Switch to OpenDNS (I would suggest switching ISP, but welcome to the monopoly that is Malaysia, right?). You can change it on your computer or router, or just use the nameservers if you know how: and Otherwise, there are ways to change it on Windows (XP, Vista, 2000), Mac OS X (Leopard, Tiger) or even Linux (Ubuntu, Fedora).

OpenDNS is a workaround. The real problem is the MCMC attempting to censor the Internet. They are attempting to stifle free speech, and the freedom to discuss pertinent issues in an open fashion. I’ve mused about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights before, maybe its time the politicians read it, again.

Update: Its worth noting that Bernice Low wrote about this in her CNet blog as well.