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.
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