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Sunday August 31, 2008

Khairy disagrees with blocking of news portal

KUALA LUMPUR: The controversial Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin has found an unlikely supporter – his constant target Khairy Jamaluddin.

In his latest posting on his blog, www.rembau.net.my, Khairy said: “No other website has caused me as much bad rep and deliberately destroyed my character as Raja Petra’s Malaysia Today. Yet I cannot help disagreeing with the recent move by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM) to block access to the site.

“Such blatant and crude employment of state power is inconsistent with the widening of democratic space.

“Citizens’ right to information aside, SKMM’s high-handed approach also sends the wrong message as it is at odds with the Multimedia Super Corridor Bill of Guarantees – a 10-point Bill that prescribes zero Internet censorship.

Khairy added that “apart from violating the principle of openness and transparency that this Administration champions and that I have publicly defended, this move also threatens to further alienate young, urban voters from Barisan Nasional.”

In Kajang, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar claimed that the Malaysia Today news portal had no respect at all for religion even though the topic is very sensitive and the “fire of religion” could cause chaos and havoc.

Earlier this week, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM) said it was blocking access to the Malaysia Today website under Section 263 of the Act.

Energy Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor and Syed Hamid said the government did not instruct SKMM to do so.

However, Utusan Malaysia reported on Saturday that SKMM had banned Malaysia Today not for political reasons or because it was very critical of politicians , but because the website had insulted Prophet Muhammad.

Syed Hamid said countries take action when people profane religion, “what more from a person (Raja Petra) who professes to be a Muslim.” He was speaking to reporters yesterday after attending the Merdeka celebrations at the Kajang Prison.

He denied that the ban was tantamount to censoring the Internet, saying that even other countries banned some sites such as one on paedophiles, circulating hate mail or Osama bin Laden.

He said bloggers just had to act responsibly and understand the sensitivities and not offend people or threaten the country's security by bringing about conflict between religions, races or cultures.

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