Saturday, 27 February 2016

MCMC has no power to block TMI?

From the Malay Mail:

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 ― The Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 does not empower the government to block access to news portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI), lawyers said.

Civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan said that Section 233 of the Act, which the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) accused TMI of breaching, merely created an offence, which was the improper use of network facilities or services.

“If someone has committed an offence under Section 233, they should be brought to court. The court will then decide if they are guilty, not the MCMC,” Syahredzan wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.

“MCMC cannot, on its own, decide if there was an offence or a violation of the said Section, and then act by blocking access to the TMI news portal,” he added.

MCMC did not specify how exactly TMI purportedly violated Section 233 and merely told news portals yesterday not to publish unverified news.

The police later said this morning that the TMI chief editor would be called in for questioning over a news report on a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) panel, but did not specify which one.

Tan Sri Hamid Bugo, former chairman of the MACC Operations Review Panel, and another ex-member issued a statement yesterday rejecting a TMI report that cited an anonymous source, who claimed the panel said there was enough evidence to prosecute the prime minister. The current term of the panel expired Wednesday.

Lawyer Andy Yong, who is also Gerakan deputy national youth chief, said there was nothing in Section 263(2) of the Communications and Multimedia Act that gave MCMC the power to block access to an online news portal or a website pending investigations.

“There is also a grey area in the law as whose power to order such block access, ie lie with the Commission or Minister?

“Broad and no specific interpretation may lead to unjust or abuse by MCMC. There is no charge by prosecution (as of now). MCMC should have [applied] to [the] court for an order to block access or an injunction instead,” said Yong in a statement today.

PKR and the DAP have also issued statements condemning the block of the news website.

“This is yet another case of reckless abuse of executive power in a long line of constitutional violations by the government in a systematic campaign to cower independent news organisations into submission,” said PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.

DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said: “The government has a plethora of laws against internet abuse and the ban on The Malaysian Insider is completely unjustifiable, especially as the news portal had not received any prior notice of the ban”.

Me thinks:

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