Posts Tagged ‘malaysia’

Offensive Facebook status update on Islam lands Malaysian man in hot soup

In today’s online beat, you’ll see reports of a 25 year old man who’s been picked up by the police for questioning on a Facebook post of his. The Star covers it. As does The Malaysian Insider.

Some facts that we know from the above two reports:

  1. Man made the posting in July 2012.
  2. Yesterday (Tuesday, 25 September) at 10pm, some 20 people visited his house and damaged it.
  3. 11.03pm on 25 September a police report was made.
  4. On Wednesday 26 September (today) at 11am the student had been picked up & a laptop confiscated.
  5. He was arrested under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act and Section 298A of the Penal Code for causing disharmony, disunity, enmity, hatred or ill-will on grounds of religion.
  6. Man claims he had been hacked and his laptop had been stolen before.

How do we go from a Facebook posting to people finding his house? I decided to do a little sleuthing while sitting in the airport lounge.

The first post mentioning his name (Gopinath Jayaratnam) that Twitter search can find was made at 4.58pm on 25 September 2012. Its clear from his Facebook profile he lives in Klang. The first post providing information about where he lives came from Ariff Amran at 7.44pm on 25 September 2012. It also includes his identity card (IC) number. It didn’t take long before the masses were united under a hashtag: the KL traffic update hashtags #kltu & #klrb. First posting that was retweeted came at 9.35pm (this includes an image of the original Facebook posting which has since been removed – now all that exists is an apologetic message), followed by 9.57pm with his IC & home address.

At 10.09am today (26 September), a user has uploaded a photo of Gopinath’s damaged house. Its clear it was taken the night before. Another gem is at 8.58am today morning, they decided to talk about his car as well.

I find all these acts unwarranted and unjustified.

I don’t know what will happen in this scenario as its too early to tell. I am not going to comment on the law with the exception that I was under the impression that the Sedition Act was to be repealed. A lawyer in KL, Foong Cheng Leong was quick to jump on the fact that even though Gopinath claims he had been hacked, the new evidence act amendments, section 114A applies.

The Twitter stream has nothing but nasty comments towards Gopinath. There are Facebook posts that have 20,000 likes talking about him. At 25, I’m sure he has a bright future ahead of him. After all, I can think of many politicians that violate Section 298A of the Penal Code.

My advice to users of the web: be careful of your passwords. Be careful about being broken into. Be careful about having your personal devices stolen. Also be wary about your personal information that you have available on the Web. And never assume that Facebook status update is private.

Google eventually blocks video in Malaysia

Protests in KL today - not deemed illegal?On the 15th I wondered what would Google do? On the 17th, it was clear that Google buckled and blocked the video to Malaysians. To be fair, it did the same in Singapore and many other nations. That did not stop angry protestors to hang out in front of the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur on the 21st.

But on the Internet, one cannot stop the free flow of information.

This is something Malaysian censors have to come to grips with. After all, even the chief censor in Myanmar has decided to call it a day.

That’s why the offending clip is still online as reported on the 18th. People, citizens of the world, have made copies of the offending video (it is a no brainer to download the video from YouTube) and have re-uploaded it. So now it becomes a cat & mouse game to find the video for the Malaysian authorities and report it to Google. I have no doubt that at least 3.8 people in some government department is working on this task.

Only way for the Malaysian government to ensure that Malaysians never see this content? Block YouTube. I’m sure that would be hugely unpopular. Besides, isn’t there Vimeo and plenty of other services?

Malaysian Government: 0 Internet: 1

Faith in Bernama the national news agency wanes

I just read that Bernama has admitted to doctoring a photo with the Prime Minister. Of course they are crying sabotage and denying any previous edits. Stop and read that, its well worth it.

I’m not surprised. Neither should you be. Anything that comes from Bernama tends to be pro-government. I gave up trust in them since 2006, when I had a little issue with them stealing my photo without attribution which I’ll talk about in a bit.

Bernama is an independent body placed under the Ministry of Information, Culture & Communication, started by an act of parliament. Wikipedia’s Bernama entry isn’t half bad, and if you’re inclined, you can read the Bernama Act 1967. Its quite clear that beyond subscription income, they’re probably funded by the ministry (this isn’t a fact but a presumption – I have no time to dig this up).

So from a Nineteen Eighty-Four perspective, these folk are akin to the Ministry of Truth

What’s my beef with Bernama? They have no issue with using what’s not theirs, i.e. they don’t believe in proper attribution. They do not respect the Creative Commons licenses either. They didn’t in 2006, and they probably don’t in 2012.

Imagine my shock when a photo of mine was attributed to be a Bernamapic in an article? Besides a tighter crop, the news agency didn’t respect the attribution, non-commercial aspect of the CC license. Bernama charges up to RM500/month to access its newswire for blogs, and this cost is bound to go up for other print publications. Can’t afford a photographer?

Speaking to them, they claimed that they would investigate but naturally, nothing came of it. I had thought of taking legal action but decided against it as my life wasn’t in Malaysia.

Alas, I have never had much faith in them, and neither should you.

X-Mozilla-Status: 0001

X-Mozilla-Status2: 00800000

Message-ID: <>

Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2006 18:40:46 +1100

From: Colin Charles <>

User-Agent: Thunderbird (Macintosh/20060909)

MIME-Version: 1.0


Subject: Using pictures without attribution

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit




We spoke on the phone recently


Here are the photos (sources):


It was used in the star:


And in the NST in a article titled “A taste of Malaysia in Melbourne”


Now, I don’t mind you using the photos, but you have to accept copyright 

and attribute it to where you got it from. Saying it came from Colin 

Charles, will be a start. (i.e. I’m not even asking for payment)


This is a sample of more pictures to come, from the event at: 

Fiesta Malaysia Open House attracts huge crowds

(there’ll be a fiestamalaysia group on Flickr, if you’ve noticed from 

the above picture)


kind regards


Colin Charles,


Malaysian censorship doesn’t cross borders but what if you’re a Malaysian startup?

The White House did ask YouTube to check if there was a violation of terms of service for the recent video that’s causing the Muslim world to go up in storm. It seems like there isn’t, and the video continues to stay up. Good on Google, good on YouTube, and here’s a win to freedom of expression & speech.

Today I see Dr. Rais Yatim, Information Communication & Culture Minster of Malaysia ask for YouTube to remove the movie. Its just smart that he realizes that YouTube isn’t controlled & created in Malaysia so its not “without our technical capability” to remove it.

There are some problems with this line of thought.

  1. If you are a company in Malaysia, hosting user generated content, you may be subject to censorship. Will it make a difference if you’re an MSC status company as there is a bill of guarantees? Or does it not matter?
  2. Rais continues on that Malaysia is an Islamic nation. It is a secular nation with Islam as the religion of the federation. It is a great pity he chooses to skew facts on what is supposed to be Malaysia Day today.
  3. Censorship without due course. Malaysia has many obscure laws that are passed as acts of parliament while the current ruling regime has been in power since independence. They have been so used to just sending notices for removals that they’ve forgotten that they need to consult the law. And chances are there are many laws that affect freedoms of speech & expression, even though they may be constitutionally protected. Companies incorporating in Malaysia need to take this into consideration.

Its good that Google isn’t simply buckling under pressure (another):

Google Malaysia communications and public affairs head Zeffri Yusof said they received the official request from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and that both parties were discussing the next course of action.

“Google adheres to the laws of the land in every country it has a domain in. So, (we) will act based on official complaints from the regulatory bodies,” he said.

Zeffri added, however, that the regulatory body had to cite the relevant laws or bylaws which were breached when making its complaint.

Now the onus is on the MCMC to show what laws the video contravenes so that YouTube can block it for all those coming from .my domainspace. 

What does this do to already poor investor sentiment? What does this mean for startups? What happens when some zealot finds a subversive message in Gangnam Style that may cause all the follow-ups to be deemed anti-religion?

YouTube has a message questioning if you should really be looking at the video. Adults should well, learn to behave like adults.

Muhammad Movie Trailer - YouTube

People to follow: Zeffri Yusof on Twitter is @zeffri. There’s also @GoogleMsia. Google+ account for +Google Malaysia.

zalora malaysia: some quick thoughts

I’m not your typical shopper, but I’ve worked with a tonne of e-commerce in my days. From shopping carts to getting the word out, I’ve probably got to start listing more down here. 

One of the first shopping malls in Malaysia to me was jipaban. The terms (for sellers) weren’t awesome (have a bunch of stuff scribbled in my notebook that never materialized into a post), and I have no idea how they’re doing in Malaysia today. Strength? Blog advertising network link. Shortly thereafter, I saw postme, run by pos malaysia. I saw ads in the edge and even regular newspapers like the star. Clearly more promise but again, no idea how they’re doing today.

Then came zalora. Its hard to avoid them. Ads on the radio. Loyalty with bcard (seen at borders, starbucks, etc.). Today in email, hsbc cardholders get 15% off on zalora. Almost every other google ad that I see happens to be from zalora.

They’re going strong with mass media. And that’s brilliant because in Malaysia, online shopping/e-commerce have many impediments and zalora is out there spending money to make it better and convince people that buying online makes more sense. Malaysia totally needs this sort of forward thinking. Going beyond just the blogs that are part of blog advertising networks. 

Whether zalora succeeds or not in the long term, the money spent on a&p, getting the word out and persuading more people to become online shoppers is highly welcome. It will certainly help lots of independent retailers do well too.

Malaysia’s Evidence Act – #STOP114A

I’m not a huge fan of many oppressive Malaysian laws, but I believe we need to fight the good fight and never let our freedoms on the Internet expire. The government works for us, not the other way around. An expiring regime tries many tricks, but its clear that there are rifts within the regime.

If you need more information as to why the amendments to the Evidence Act are bad, the Center for Independent Journalism in Malaysia has a pretty good resource: Read more about it. I’m particularly pleased there is an infographic so for people that are lazy to read, the infographic tells all.

There’s a huge chunk of resources, and you can even put on a twibbon on Facebook & Twitter. I’ve done so on twitter at least.

I don’t plan on being silenced or blacked out per se, but its important people know about this movement.