Thursday, February 25, 2016

Malaysia enters new age of darkness as the Najib administration brutally suppresses press freedom

Never has the media in Malaysia faced a greater onslaught than it faces today since the dark days of Operasi Lalang where The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh, Watan was suspended on 29 October 1987.

Today, in a bid to put a lid on a barrel of crawling worms, the Najib administration has taken the most drastic and draconian action to date by blocking Malaysia’s most popular English news portal, The Malaysian Insider.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has confirmed that The Malaysian Insider has been officially banned “on the grounds of national security”. The notice posted by the respective Internet Service Providers claimed that the website is “not available in Malaysia because it violates National Law(s)”.

The Malaysian government has gotten increasingly brazen with abusing its powers by previously blocking whistle-blower websites such as The Sarawak Report and even the Medium channel for publishing The Sarawak Report news. It has previously blocked the website and more recently, the anti-establishment Malaysia Chronicle blog.

The latest block against the mainstream news portal The Malaysian Insider is clearly a sign of the Malaysian government upping the ante against any news outlets deemed to provide free and fair coverage of politics and Malaysia.

Worse, the MCMC has blatant flouted the very laws it claims to protect by taking action against the website without even any charges pressed against them. The Malaysian Insider has stated that it has no knowledge of being investigated for any of its reports, nor has it been sought to assist in clarifying any matters deemed sensitive by the authorities.This goes to prove the complete disregard for the rule of law by the Government.

The unannounced block by MCMC is a blatant show of naked force to not only to shut down “misbehaving” news sites, it is also intended to frighten and threaten all other news portals into submission and compliance.

President Barrack Obama had spoken up on the need of media freedom to preserve meaningful democracy during the World Press Freedom Day last year. "Journalists give all of us as citizens the chance to know the truth about our countries, ourselves, our governments," he said. "That makes us better, it makes us stronger, it gives voice to the voiceless, it exposes injustice, and holds leaders like me accountable."

The increasing brute and brazen attempts by the Najib administration to tear down the fourth estate, a critical pillar to check and balance those who are in power will only go to demonstrate how we are closer to a banana republic than we think we are. The world will now see in our full naked glory, how Malaysia is run by an utterly corrupt and shameless regime.

The DAP calls upon the MCMC and the Najib administration to lift the ban on all news portals. It will not only to return Malaysia to some semblance of the rule of law, but also to prevent a further drain in confidence in the country by local and foreign investors which will crush our fragile economy today.

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