Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil today distanced himself from the blocking of news websites as well as those critical of the government, saying the internet regulator placed under his jurisdiction has the power to make such decisions.
This comes after news site UtusanTV was blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the latest in a series of internet censorships that saw several websites being blocked when accessed through local service providers.
"I believe media should be free, and I have given no instruction to MCMC to block anyone, whether it is conventional (media) or social media. No such instruction has come from me or my office.
"If police reports or complaints are lodged by the public, MCMC has their own power, and they can do that (block). Sometimes reports also come from the police," he was quoted as saying by Bernama today.
He said he had yet to receive any reports regarding the issue and would ask for more details from MCMC.
UtusanTV, a current affairs site run by former staff of the now-defunct Utusan Malaysia, has been inaccessible since Monday, with some users seeing a screen notifying them that it was blocked by MCMC.
It came more than a month after MalaysiaNow reported that it was blocked by several major ISPs, although there was no such notice from MCMC.
Fahmi had then denied any hand in the blocking, but he and MCMC have since offered no explanation despite repeated queries from MalaysiaNow.
Other websites blocked include the news commentary site Malaysia Today, run by government critic Raja Petra Kamaruddin, access to which was restricted in late June, and a blog run by former MP Wee Chee Keong just over two weeks ago.
Wee has since filed a judicial review to challenge MCMC, which is set to be heard next week.