Monday, February 05, 2007

Silencing Cyberspace

Here's a talk I'd love to go to if I didn't have to be somewhere else Tuesday night. I hope that it gets written up in detail on the blogs. I took this from Jeff's blog in the passed on passed on nature of internet things.

Date: 6 February2007 (Tuesday)
Time: 7.30 pm
Venue: KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall


* Mr Yeo Yang Poh, President of the Malaysian Bar Council
* Mr Jeff Ooi, Pioneer Malaysian Blogger
* Ms Sonia Randhawa, Executive Director, Centre for Independent Journalism
* Mr Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader
* Mr Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP

As of today, we have the Printing and Publications Act 1984 which provides that it is a criminal offense to possess or use a printing press without a licence granted by the Internal Security Minister. The Minister is given "absolute discretion" in the granting and revocation of licences, which is required to be renewed on a yearly basis.

We do not require such an Act to govern us in the cyberspace. The Bill of Guarantees of the Multimedia Super Corridor project assures us, Malaysians, and the world that there will be no censorship of the Internet.
Whatever your take on the case at hand (the NST v. Jeff and Rocky Bru) the debate that is thrown up is vitally important, and freedom of speech must be safeguarded.

The Centre for Independent Journalism meanwhile offers a downloadable copy of a Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents produced by Reporters Without Borders which should be compulsory reading for all who venture online.

As the blurb says:

Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest.

Zedeck Siew, Kakiseni editor, echoes my sentiments too when he writes:
Ahirudin and Jeff Ooi (of Screenshots, who is also being sued) are de facto public intellectuals, providing commentary on Malaysian issues for the Greater Good; this censure -- considering the NSTP has a plethora of alternative actions to debunk Rocky and Jeff’s opinions, avenues that would not stink of hammer-headed censorship -- is like impaling someone just to improve his posture. A government sanctioned sula, too. Our Prime Minister: “They cannot hope to cover themselves or hide from the laws.” We thought we were done with the Middle Ages.
My apologies for not giving you your fix of biblionews earlier in the day - my internet connection is still giving me big problems, but should be fixed tomorrow.


animah said...

Section 3(3) of the Communications & Multimedia Act 1998 states "Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting the censorship of the Internet."
This law which came into force in 1999 echoes the Bill of Guarantees. It is a breakthrough in Malaysia in that it provides a new philosphy (then) that industry should self regulate. Therefore the broadcast media covering TV networks and ISPs together with users and content providers came together and drafted the permissive Content Code governed by the Content Forum (comprising industry and users). There is a section called the Online Code (that I (representing an ISP), Jeff Ooi and a number of others took 2 years to draft over many many sessions and great debate) It is the Forum, not the Government that decides what is permissible. Please go to the MCMC website for the Code.

Online Content is still subject to defamatory and seditious laws. But it is not subject to the PPPA, which our newspapers are.

Technically the Cyberspace cannot be silenced, bloggers can still go underground. But the point is why should we? When can we speak in our own names without fear?

Sufian said...

Is this really a case of "silencing the cyberspace"?

bibliobibuli said...

animah - nice to have a lawyer on board!!

no sufian, it isn't

but we need to keep an eye on this and not be complacent, right?

Sufian said...

Sure, yes, keep an eye. But look at the issues, and look at the panel. What can we conclude?

bibliobibuli said...

opposition politics? oh yes

they don't have too much access to mainstream sources of news either, do they?

lil ms d said...

shit i missed it. i stayed back late to proof read. sharon, your points have all been taken into account!

btw - bloggers/writers. may arrange somethign with my alumni.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks ms d - glad i could help

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone keep saying the NSTP is suing them ? last I heard BP and a few others are doing the suing, not the NSTP. Or am I wrong in this ?