Oppose the CMA 1998 amendments

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Oppose the CMA 1998 amendments
By Zan Azlee

Malaysia banned the blogging platform Medium in January 2016 and it continues to be blocked today. The reason is utterly ridiculous – Sarawak Report had mirrored some of its critical 1MDB articles on it and the government didn’t like that.

Of course, the government blocked Sarawak Report first and when they saw that an article was also being posted on Medium, they wrote to the management of Medium and requested that the article be taken down.

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Medium replied to the MCMC and asked them for evidence that the law had in fact been broken. The MCMC didn’t respond and just went on to block the access to the site in Malaysia.

Now, there has been a proposed amendment to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 in Parliament that, if enacted, will restrict online freedom of expression if more than before.

Under the proposed amendments, the registration of political bloggers and online news sites will be made mandatory, increased penalties for offences and one of the major ones is the removing of intermediary liability protections that service providers have.

What that essentially means is that service providers can be penalised for the content shared by their users, and that would just put pressure on to the service providers to restrict their users.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) are strongly opposed to this, as are international organisations like the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Net Merdeka, a coalition NGO fighting for Internet rights and freedom, has also highlighted the issue.

Under the Net Merdeka coalition are:

  • Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Malaysia
  • Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
  • Malaysia’s Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
  • Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  • Sinar Project
  • Cilisos
  • Amnesty International, Malaysia
  • Lawyers for Liberty

They have come up with a template for a letter that you can use to send to your Parliamentary representative to oppose the amendments to the CMA 1998. You can get the template here.

All the efforts by the government in trying to curb and restrict freedom of speech and expression just goes against basic human rights. So I urge everyone to take action and make sure that Malaysia doesn’t turn more authoritarian.

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