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Internet censorship continues as TikTok removes short news clip on Ambalat block

This is despite the one-and-a-half minute video making no attempt to side with any party on the issue.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Screengrabs from MalaysiaNow's video on the Ambalat block, which was removed from the TikTok social media platform.
Screengrabs from MalaysiaNow's video on the Ambalat block, which was removed from the TikTok social media platform.

The government's clampdown on online news content has continued with TikTok seen as the only social media platform that has been taking down clips viewed as unfavourable towards Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's administration.

In the latest such move, TikTok removed a video posted by MalaysiaNow, summarising an article on the Ambalat oil block off the coast of Sabah – the subject of a longstanding territorial tussle between Malaysia and Indonesia.

According to TikTok, the video was removed due to issues with "integrity and authenticity". No other reasons were given.

The one-and-a-half minute video revolved around claims that Malaysia had surrendered the oil-rich waters to Indonesia, with a summary overview of the dispute.

MalaysiaNow is appealing against the removal.

The clip made no attempt to side with any party on the issue, and ended with footage of Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamad Alamin denying a claim by a Sabah assemblyman that Putrajaya had surrendered the Ambalat block to Jakarta.

The video is still accessible on other platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube (click here).

The removal of the video came just days after TikTok banned current affairs site TV Pertiwi's channel on the platform. It previously banned Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor's channel as well, although this was later restored.

Yesterday, TV Pertiwi found that its website had been blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the internet regulator under the purview of Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

Fahmi has so far denied instructing MCMC to block anyone, saying the agency has the power to do so on its own.

In June, Fahmi came under fire after MalaysiaNow's website was blocked for 48 hours, although he denied any role in the matter.

Similar blocks were slapped on news commentary site Malaysia Today, run by government critic Raja Petra Kamarudin, and a blog run by former DAP MP Wee Choo Keong.

It is not clear whether the latest censorship by TikTok was based on a request by the Malaysian government.

However, the platform reportedly entered into a "strategic cooperation" with Fahmi's ministry last December to remove "provocative and extremist" content on social media.

Critics say the move was designed to stop the influence of the video platform which played a major role in spreading the campaign message of Perikatan Nasional during last year's general election.

Editor's note: The video clip was restored as of Aug 18, noon.