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Ministry responds to Tracking Rais

Note from The Nut Graph

Surprise! The government has actually responded to a column published in The Nut Graph. The Information, Communications and Culture Ministry responded today to Tracking Rais, which took a critical view of some of minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim’s public statements.

The article, written by Deborah Loh in her column, Sideways, had looked at the reach of government-attempted censorship of the internet and entertainment, the pace of technology rollout, and treatment of opposition-led states. The statement, issued by the ministry’s corporate communications unit and emailed to The Nut Graph, was to clarify the minister’s position on some of the points raised.

What’s heartening for The Nut Graph is the fact that this ministry noticed and responded when silence is usually the norm with regards to other articles far more critical and on graver issues. A few examples are the stories about the Penan rape report and the difficulty that opposition Members of Parliament face in gaining access to federal funds. It’s a small but positive step that some arms of the government are at least attempting to listen and respond to public opinion, even if the content of the response is to defend itself.

Below is the statement in full from the ministry:


Dissemination of information and internet filters

The Information, Communications and Culture Ministry is aware that with the advent of the new media, the people can get information from various sources and mediums. The ministry is very concerned that some information disseminated through the new media may not be true or accurate and that will result in the people being misinformed.

What the minister [Datuk Seri] Dr Rais Yatim meant by saying “the right kind of information” is that the people should get information from reliable sources to ensure that the information is true and accurate.  On the other hand, accurate, true, fair and responsible reporting should be observed by writers and content providers. They must adhere to the Malaysian laws and restrain from reporting sensitive and seditious issues.

The minister is concerned about the extent of undesirable contents [on] the internet that the young population is exposed to, in particular pornography. When he mentioned about “internet filter”, he was referring to the filtering of child pornography to safeguard the young and vulnerable population.

Broadband rollout

The ministry is confident that Malaysia will meet its target of achieving 50% broadband penetration by end of next year (2010). So far, the results have been positive. As of April 2009, penetration was 26 %. It will reach 30 % by end of 2009. The remaining 20% will be achieved by [the] end of 2010.

Performance by foreign artistes

Permits to hold concerts involving performance by foreign artistes are issued by Puspal (Agensi Pusat Permohonan Penggambaran Filem and Persembahan Artis Luar Negara). Although Puspal is chaired by the secretary-general from the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry, it comprises 11 permanent members and seven associate members who are representatives from various government ministries and departments. Therefore, any decision made by Puspal is a collective decision based on the existing guidelines of Puspal. There has not been any discrimination of concert attendance based on religion once the permit is granted. In the case of the Black Eyed Peas concert, the ministry did not state that Muslims cannot attend the concert. The advertisement of the concert with the words “Muslims cannot attend” was placed by the organisers. As for the Beyoncé concert, permit has been granted by Puspal as the organisers guarantee that the performance will be within the framework of the Malaysian culture.

Funding for  heritage cities (Penang and Malacca)

The ministry is aware that an allocation of RM50 million has been approved in the 2009 Budget as funding for heritage restoration projects in Penang and Malacca. When the minister said “no such thing” and ‘misconception”, he actually meant that no such funds have been channeled to the ministry (through [the] National Heritage Department) and  hence, the ministry is not responsible for the disbursement of such funds. The ministry is not aware that the funds have been channeled to Khazanah [Nasional].

Corporate Communications Unit
Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture

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8 Responses to “Ministry responds to Tracking Rais

  1. Lainie says:

    50% of substandard broadband by 2010. Oh, joy. I love sending files kilobyte, by kilobyte, by kilobyte.

    Example of Malaysia tak boleh:

  2. putrabirokrat says:

    Apropos, especially with the passing-the-buck on the issues of heritage cities and rock concerts, is [Hannah] Arendt’s “Reflections on Violence” []

    “… today we ought to add the latest and perhaps most formidable form of such dominion, bureaucracy, or the rule by an intricate system of bureaux in which no [men/women], neither one nor the best, neither the few nor the many, can be held responsible, and which could be properly called the rule by Nobody. Indeed, if we identify tyranny as the government that is not held to give account of itself, rule by Nobody is clearly the most tyrannical of all, since there is no one left who could even be asked to answer for what is being done.”

  3. Eric says:

    It appears the ministry of propaganda only reads The Nut Graph and definitely none of the BN-owned papers when it says only “accurate, true, fair and responsible reporting should be observed by writers”.

    I guess they should extend their purview to Utusan, NST or Star. Unless, of course, our dear civil service, at long last, recognises that censorship only applies to independent [media]. At least, that would be honest 😉

  4. dhanenmahes says:

    Oxford and Cisco have confirmed that we’ve got one of the most “failed” broadband [services] in the world:

    Too much doublespeak… brain… shutting…down…

  5. lim Goh Tong says:

    Syabas and well done, Rais Yatim. You are responsible and accountable to reply. This is what we expect from you, a minister.

  6. Chan says:

    When I knew this minister as a lawyer, I didn’t know what significant contribution to the law he provided. As a minister of foreign affairs, he made a fool of himself in the United States with his statements. He is also a keen supporter of arrest and detention without trial; he obviously does not see the necessity in giving an accused the opportunity to be heard. All the law that he knows can be written on a 10-sen stamp. I am not convinced that there is a reason to put silly people in places of high position. If you look at some of his comments made to journalists on YouTube — we will wonder whether a hawker is talking or a minister!

  7. Nicholas Aw says:

    A surprise which is rare but most welcome. However, the worry of Rais regarding “the right kind of information” — that the people should get information from reliable sources to ensure that the information is true and accurate — is absurd! How do you determine “the right kind of information”?

    The government can introduce laws, but it cannot intrude on the people’s privacy. Moreover, what is the point of having laws (as if we don’t have enough already!) if enforcement is almost nonexistent? […]

  8. tokdalang says:

    At least they were quick with an answer. And in their rush, they did not actually say anything that meant something.

    Well, at least they were fast. And pulled a fast one on us.

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