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PAS joins chorus of criticism against MCMC over media curbs

The Islamist party's deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man says Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim must fulfil his commitment to safeguard freedom of speech and protect media freedom in the country.

Staff Writers
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PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man has hit out at the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission over the recent string of blocks on websites.
PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man has hit out at the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission over the recent string of blocks on websites.

PAS today joined the chorus of criticism against the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for blocking online news publications, calling the restrictions desperate acts that contradict Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's fight, which used to oppose the actions of previous governments.

Echoing a group of veteran media professionals' call to the commission to stop acting like a "Big Brother" by blocking online media content, PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the prime minister must fulfil his commitment to safeguard freedom of speech and protect media freedom as promised in his manifesto.

"I support the demand made by the senior journalists for the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission not to play 'Big Brother' by arbitrarily censoring online content.

"It is high time the people are enlightened and informed with accurate information," he said in a statement.

On Tuesday, eight senior journalists and media owners warned the commission against playing the role of "Big Brother" in the wake of a series of clampdowns and restrictions on media outlets in the country, saying it was a reminder of the practice by past administrations to shut down critics and please the political elites.

"What is more worrying is the fact that much of the so-called 'offending' content is mere reports and opinion pieces deemed critical of the government," said a joint statement signed by prominent journalists Johan Jaaffar and A Kadir Jasin; former Bernama chairman Azman Ujang; former editors-in-chief of Bernama, Yong Soo Heong and Zakaria Wahab; as well as veteran media activists Hussamuddin Yaacob, Chamil Wariya, and G Manimaran.

Citing what has been happening to the media recently as very concerning, Tuan Ibrahim added that the stifling of voices has become more widespread, starting with the blocking of the MalaysiaNow website and, more recently, TV Pertiwi.

"We see that the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional government is feeling increasingly pressured and worried about the public's acceptance of Perikatan Nasional," he said.

In June, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil, who has jurisdiction over MCMC, came under fire after news portal MalaysiaNow was blocked for 48 hours. The regulatory body did not respond to repeated requests for an explanation.

Last month, another current affairs site, UtusanTV, operated by former staff of the now-defunct Utusan Melayu media company, was also blocked.

MCMC was also behind the access bans on the Malaysia Today website run by government critic Raja Petra Kamarudin, as well as a blog specialising in corporate and financial sleaze run by former DAP MP Wee Choo Keong.

In the latest such curbs, MCMC blocked TV Pertiwi, an online news site specialising in short videos and political podcasts. The regulatory agency said the block would be lifted on the condition that the outlet agreed to remove six pieces of news content.

Meanwhile, MCMC, in its response, said the commission was duty-bound to regulate the communications and multimedia industries, adding that this includes its role to ensure that online platforms do not break Malaysian laws.

"The government should give the people the opportunity to consider their choices based on informed freedom," Tuan Ibrahim added.

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