PETALING JAYA: Media groups have criticised the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for blocking an online news portal.
In separate statements on Friday, both the Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) and Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm) denounced the sudden block without a clear reason, and criticised the commission for not providing adequate notice to The Malaysian Insider (TMI).
“While the Institute does not condone any violation of the law, it notes that there was no clear reason given by the authorities in imposing the block on several local networks,” according to IoJ.
On Thursday, the MCMC said the news portal had been blocked for violating Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
“The authority, however, did not indicate which article/s that is/are deemed to have fit the description and the subject of public complaints,” said the IoJ.
It also expressed its concern that no notice was sent to TMI on the MCMC's claims that the portal had violated any laws.
It also said that Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar’s tweeted instructions for the police to haul up TMI’s chief editor for questioning, appeared to be a “knee-jerk reaction to news articles that may or may not be critical of the ruling administration”.
“Such unilateral action could also be construed as an attempt to intimidate the media against running critical news reports,” said the IoJ.
Geramm said it was disheartened by the block, as it is “seen to be unclear, unsubstantiated, and unfair”.
“Time and time again it shows that the powers that be decided to use their powers without even considering better and fairer alternatives.
“Clamping news publications is directly opposite of a healthy democracy,” said Geramm, adding that notice and ample warning should have been given in due diligence of law instead of immediately blocking the site.
It also raised its concern that the action may be linked to a report quoting anonymous sources.
“In this case, we urge the authorities to respect the media's right to use and protect identity of anonymous sources,” said Geramm.