MCMC abused to safeguard Putrajaya, says lawyers’ group

Source: The Malaysian Insider

It will be hard to dispute that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is being misused to safeguard Putrajaya’s image, rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said today, referring to recent actions taken by the regulatory body against government critics.

LFL executive director Eric Paulsen said it was “extremely irresponsible” of MCMC to keep investigating posting on social media deemed offensive to the prime minister and the administration, especially when they were not “real crimes”.

“It would be extremely irresponsible for the MCMC to keep investigating such postings when these are not real crimes but mere political or social postings, unlike Internet fraud and scams which they should be focusing on,” he said in a statement.

“Although the MCMC may deny, it is hard to dispute the poor public perception that the MCMC is being misused to safeguard the image of the authorities.”

Paulsen said LFL was concerned with the recent spate of investigations and prosecutions under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, that has been used as an addition or an alternative to the draconian Sedition Act.

“This is an abuse of the act as the general and widely worded offence under Section 233 is meant to protect ordinary individuals from serious online bullying, harassment or threats – certainly not to protect the authorities from public criticism, insults or other ‘offensive’ postings.”

The human rights lawyer was referring to the investigations and charges brought against, among others, the man behind LetakJawatan, a Facebook page demanding Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s resignation and Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) leader S. Arutchelvan for his post criticising the judiciary following Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy conviction.

Former minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was also charged today under the same law for a speech posted on his blog calling for Najib’s resignation

“While it is true freedom of speech is not absolute and there are accepted limitations, for example, incitement to violence and hate speech – the threshold for freedom of speech, however, must be high.

“We would like to remind MCMC that such investigations would breach the ‘no-Internet-censorship’ policy which is enshrined in both the Act and MSC Malaysia’s Bill of Guarantees.” – December 4, 2015.



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