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CIJ condemns MCMC censorship

KUALA LUMPUR, 4 Sept 2009: The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) has criticised the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) over its directive to Malaysiakini to take down video reports related to the protest against the relocation of a temple in Shah Alam.

CIJ executive director Gayathry Venkiteswaran said the government directive was unwarranted as it was an attempt to silence the messenger, in this case the media, from reporting the news.

She was referring to the letter sent to Malaysiakini by the MCMC directing it to remove two videos from its news site. If Malaysiakini doesn’t comply, it could possibly face charges that may result in hefty fines and imprisonment under Sections 211 and 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.

One video was of the 28 Aug 2009 protest where a cow’s head was used and violence threatened if a Hindu temple was relocated to Section 23 in Shah Alam. The other video was on the 2 Sept press conference by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, defending the protestors for their actions.

In the MCMC letter which is posted on Malaysiakini, monitoring and enforcement division acting senior director Abdul Halim Ahmad said the commission received many complaints on “several provocative and offensive videos” that were posted on Malaysiakini and YouTube. He added that the videos contained offensive contents with the intent to annoy “any person especially the Indians”.

“The MCMC is misguided as this is the role of the media — to raise public interest issues. The source of the problem is not the media airing the footage, but the protesters who used methods that were despicable to voice their protest. It is the organisers of the cow-head protest who should be targeted and not the media that reported on the matter,” Gayathry said in a statement today.

“This is a repeat of the [incident which saw the] arrest of Sin Chew reporter Tan Hoon Cheng under the Internal Security Act last September [because she] reported on a public speech by Penang Umno leader [Datuk] Ahmad Ismail, where the messenger is attacked for what a politician expresses in public,” she added.

Gayathry called on the MCMC to stop its harassment and leave the online media to report the news as it saw fit. “There is no irresponsible or unethical reporting involved in the videos and if the commission is serious about not wanting to fuel public sentiments, it should support civil society calls to reject any use or threat of violence and hatred,” she added.

Censorship on flimsy grounds

She also said the broadly-worded Communications and Multimedia Act allows for censorship to take place on flimsy grounds, citing the poorly-defined section that makes it a crime to “annoy” any person.

“The MCMC should be more discerning in assessing complaints it receives and understand better the role of the media as the fourth estate. If people feel upset by the videos, then they should be upset at any attempts of legitimising violence and hatred as a form of expression.

“The public has a right to be informed of what happens in society and the only way to mitigate any conflict is to present more fair and accurate information, not less.”

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9 Responses to “CIJ condemns MCMC censorship”

  1. Kamal says:

    “If Malaysiakini doesn’t comply, it could possibly face charges that may result in hefty fines and imprisonment under Sections 211 and 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.”

    You got to appreciate the irony of this.

  2. Reza says:

    This is blatant censorship without valid grounds. When will the government learn that instead of covering up these problems, they should be SOLVING them. Instead of punishing the media, they should be punishing the [...] fanatics who started this fracas. The government is only making things worse by curtailing the freedom of the press. I hope this act of censorship is also covered by the foreign media so that it will further shame the Malaysian government.

  3. jin says:

    Is reporting the facts or truth obnoxious? To whom I wonder?

    Not to the Indian [Malaysians] I think; but to those who have made the offending statements! To the Indian [Malaysians], the video is proof of racism by those connected to Umno? To those caught on video, it is an abiding reminder of their insensitivity, their arrogance and their racism.

    It is indeed strange that those who stand for the truth are those who are victimised.

    But it needs to be remembered that the truth will always prevail! If this is the way that MCMC works, then [...] it needs a dire revamp.

    In what has been going on [over] the last few weeks, the BN government has not been seen to have tackled the issue of good governance, fairness, truth and transparency credibly. Rather public perception is that the BN (Umno in particular) is making full use of government institutions for its advantage much like a bully. Public confidence in whatever government institutions is now at the lowest!

  4. yong says:

    Come on, [...] if I attack you and you tell your friends and anyone who wants to listen to you about me, you are wrong? You want to agitate and provoke the others but fear that this provocation is widely known, so suppress the news. Suppression will result in rumours!!
    So, is not factual reporting better? BN, remember [that] constant provocation is damaging to the whole country . There is an ancient Chinese saying ” If you don’t want others to know, don’t do it.”

    Daulat Tuanku! Berjuang untuk Rakyat, Negara dan Raja!!

  5. censor says:

    How do I condemn The Nut Graph’s censorship???

    ======================================================

    The Nut Graph’s policy for moderating comments is publicly available here: http://www.thenutgraph.com/comments-and-columns-policy

    Jacqueline.

  6. Perakian says:

    After reading so much political news from Malaysiakini, Malaysian Unplugged, Malaysian Insider, etc…. and the current on-going events (cow’s head) created by BN, I can only summarise that with the BN federal goverment’s actions, this country will self-destruct soon. Most of the issues brought up by Umno are mostly racist and will destroy Malaysia which is a peaceful multi-racial country. Before it gets out of hand, let’s pray and hope the rakyat (Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazan, Iban, Bidayuh, Penan and other [Malaysians]) will vote them out of government. I am not aligned to any political party and I hope and pray that BN will lose outright during the Bagan Pinang by-election in Negeri Sembilan to be held soon. PAS is a very much better political party than Umno, many, many times better. Umno is extremely corrupt, biased, [...], [dishonest], cruel, [hypocritical]. Do not be tricked by them if they give you goodies, shares and money to win your heart, especially when there is a by-election. The present BN goverment cannot be trusted at all (100%). For all the bad things which the BN government has done, bad repercussions will happen to them. Agree?

  7. Anonymous Coward says:

    Najib’s talk on free press and all is really, and please excuse the expression, [BS].

    MCMC should know better than this.

  8. abc says:

    MCMC’s directive to Malaysiakini to take down video reports related to the protest against the relocation of a temple in Shah Alam is a bad move.

    1. It will arouse public interest and make the public more interested to see the video. Backfired….
    2. The dispute will create more public awarness on the mistake of MACC and add more fuel to the incident.

    MACC should keep quiet and don’t be a hero. Just keep quiet and let the whole thing die down and be forgotten.

    “Tikus membaiki labu.”

  9. Eric Cheh says:

    Malaysia’s civil service should know a bit more about the religion of some taxpayers. When MCMC’s acting senior director Abdul Halim Ahmad says the video could annoy “any person especially the Indians”, he is clearly confused between Indians and Hindus.
    Shame on this guy and the MCMC staff preparing the letter.


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