Here is a novel idea for the Madani government: set up a new social media platform. Let us call it the MadaniMuzzle.
And why not? The government seems to be getting hot under the collar with some of the biggest social networking sites in the world.
Last week, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission threatened to take action against Meta, the owner of Facebook, over its alleged failure to remove "harmful content" on its platform. Facebook is the world's largest social networking site, boasting almost three billion users worldwide.
Late last year, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil revealed that TikTok had removed 1,126 clips upon complaints from the government.
Subsequently, Fahmi, in a departure from the convention, publicly complained about Telegram's reluctance to meet up with the Malaysian government over "harmful" content available on the mobile messaging application.
Following threats of action, Telegram finally relented and met up with the government at Bukit Aman.
The optics for these actions are horrifying, especially coming from a government that had in the past promoted freedom of speech and expression. The minister of a developing country going after global technological titans reminds one of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister during WWII.
It did not help that Fahmi or the agencies under his ministry did not spell out in detail what the transgressions were, except to lump them all under the "harmful content" umbrella.
Was the content related to child pornography being shared by specific Telegram channels, and if so, which ones? Or was it a scam Facebook group preying on the gullible elderly?
We need answers because as far as these global technological platforms are concerned, they have already put in place mechanisms to prevent such abuses. Users can report such content, and action would be taken without any state intervention.
Or was Fahmi referring to political content which is not favourable to the current coalition government, ahead of the elections in six states?
Did Pakatan Harapan not complain about how the ruling Barisan Nasional stifled the opposition back in the day? Surely it would not go down the same route. Right?
The Madani government now clearly has a beef with platforms like TikTok, Telegram and Facebook. That being the case, the natural solution is for the government to set up the MadaniMuzzle as an alternative.
The plus side of doing that is the Malaysian government already has a point of reference in doing so. It can learn from the communist China government which has banned platforms like Facebook and Telegram, in favour of its state-linked platforms like Weibo and WeChat.
With MadaniMuzzle, which could be placed in the Community Communications Department or J-KOM under the Prime Minister's Department, the government will be able to effectively moderate its content.
It can remove, stifle and muzzle all "undesirable" content. Then every netizen will toe the line and work towards a prosperous, united and peaceful Madani Malaysia.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.