Tuesday, August 01, 2006

INTERNET, WEBSITES and BLOGS? To be CONTROLLED: Datuk ZAINUDDIN Supports Datuk FU AH KIOW on Rumours News & RACIAL Undertones Articles & Features

There has been much controversy and “misquotes” surrounding the call by Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow on the curb of Internet Websites and possibly Webblogs to stop the spread of news based on rumors, and articles and features with racial undertones.

The uncertainties were first highlighted in the Sunday Times article (below) on inaccurate and speculative reports on the pepper spray incident. And now the Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin is supporting the call for “stern warning must be issued and action taken against rumour-mongers for causing problems to the extent of disturbing public order”.

It looks like there will be changes for a lot of websites dishing out “breaking news” without verifying the facts. But will “control of media content will boost the credibility of a website as the people will know the news published is accurate and no longer based on rumours”??

Will the day come when websites may be installed or bought over and controlled to continue the “print media agenda”? At the end of the day, it is the Joe public with the power of discernment that will determine the credibility of a website giving out balanced views.

It is shocking that the Information Minister can slam newspaper for publishing the truth about the crime situation in the country just to appease the tourism industry. This is the height of advocating “self denial” we have seen in so many places like the mess in the education policies. It is always the image that they want to portray and sweep everything unpleasant under the carpet and try to solve things under “closed doors” policy without the participation and input from the public or other experts.

Internet, Websites Must Be Controlled, Says Zainuddin; July 31, 2006 13:44 PM

KANGAR, July 31 (Bernama) -- The Government must control the Internet and websites to curb the spread of rumours and news that can harm racial unity in the country, Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin said.

He said he agreed with Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow that stern warning must be issued and action taken against rumour-mongers for causing problems to the extent of disturbing public order.

The control was not to muzzle press freedom but to stop the spread of news based on rumours, and articles and features with racial undertones, he said.

"In one aspect, the," he told reporters at the "Seiring Melangkah Bersama" (Together We Move Forward) event in conjunction with the 60th anniversary celebrations of the state-level agencies under the Information Ministry,here last night.

Zainuddin said so long as the mainstream media was not involved in publishing rumours and articles that were seditious in nature, the people would not be influenced or take seriously what was posted on the Internet.

He slammed the media for often publishing crime stories as important news with sensational reports merely to sell the newspapers or to boost viewers' rating for a particular television programme.

"If we do so, we are indirectly portraying a picture that our country is not safe, with a high crime rate and this will bring adverse effects to our economy and tarnish the image of our country.

"At one time, news on murders and recovery of bodies were rarely published with gruesome pictures, but nowadays some newspapers are boldly printing such photographs without realising it is against journalism ethics," he said.

Compare the following STAR report with the Bernama above and see the emphasis

Zam: Some control on Net media needed

KANGAR: Imposing some control on Internet media will not make the medium less popular, but rather give it credibility, says Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin.

He said mainstream media had gained credibility because of the laws making them responsible for what they published.

“We need to have a similar form of control over Internet media and blogs, as the medium is used to spread unfounded allegations that pose a threat to national security and racial unity,” he added.

He was at the state-level Seiring Melangkah Bersama (Step Forward Together) function organised in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of agencies under the Information Ministry last Sunday.

Zainuddin said he supported Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow’s statement that there should be some form of control over sensitive issues to protect national security.

He said some websites and blogs had touched on Islam and Malay rights, which threatened harmony in multi-racial Malaysia.

If left uncontrolled, the medium could be used as a tool to disturb the peace and stability in the country.

“It is not our intention to curb freedom of speech. It is all right to present views but it is not acceptable if the content is instigative in nature,” he added.

“We have come across cases and stories that are posted based on hearsay. Some of the comments and arguments are baseless,” he noted.

Zainuddin said the Government had no intention of jailing those who write about racial issues in blogs.

“We will not stop bloggers and Internet media operators from expressing their views, as long as the views are presented in an ethical manner,” he added.

The background of this Fu’s need was first highlighted by the Sunday Times

Websites under probe for ‘inaccurate’ reports; 30 Jul 2006

KUANTAN: Police are investigating several websites which allegedly carried inaccurate and speculative reports on the pepper spray incident involving Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Friday.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow said yesterday that action would be taken against the website owners if they had breached the Sedition Act.

Fu said the contents of the offending reports would be analysed and whether the websites had promptly retracted them.

The websites were not named.

Fu said statements carrying the qualification "believed to be" would still be deemed irresponsible even if they were later retracted.

"The initial impact of such
speculative reports may not only be damaging, but could also be ‘irreversible’," said Fu, who is also the Kuantan Member of Parliament, after attending a community programme at SMK Sungai Soi near here.

At least one website flashed a report under its newsbreak segment on Friday which, among other things, indicated the possibility that the former prime minister was attacked by members of the police special operations force.

The report, filed shortly after the
10.30am incident at the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, Kota Baru, was retracted an hour later.

Fu said the Government was keeping to its
promise of not censoring Internet access in the country but cautioned those using it as a news medium to be responsible and not break the law, particularly when it involved sensitive issues.

denied a report on Thursday which quoted him as saying that the Government was planning to amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984
to place websites under its control.

"What I said was that we are
studying the Act to see if it meets our current needs. I never said we were going to amend it."

On the issuance of permits for public gatherings, Fu said the police based their decisions after careful studies of the potential risks they posed

...here is the denial from Fu Ah Kiow via bernama
"Nobody has said that we are going to enact a law to control the internet media. I only said we are going to study the existing Printing Presses and Publications Act"

July 29, 2006 17:18pm
No Plans To Amend Act To Control Internet Media

KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 (Bernama) -- The government has no plans at the moment to amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act to include the electronic and the internet media, Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow clarified Saturday.

He said the government was only studying whether the 20-year old act needed to be amended with the new developments in the media world.

There had been complaints from the (print) media that the present act was not fair since it only covered the print media, he said.

"So, after listening to the complaint, I said we would study the matter, never did I say that we would amend the act," he told Bernama here.

He said some media had misreported his statement during the ministry's Mass Media Conference 2006 in Putrajaya recently by reporting that the ministry was going to amend the act to cover the electronic media and the internet.

"That's not true. I have to clarify that for the electronic media, it is still under the purview of the Multimedia Commission. I never said we would amend the Printing Presses and Publications Act (to cover electronic and internet media). It's (under) a different ministry," he said.

Fu explained that the reason the ministry would study the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 was to ascertain whether the act was still relevant for today's needs as there was a gap between the various types of media that existed today.

"This is particularly so for the print media which has been subjected to various regulations, while the electronic and internet media are able to get away with things that the print media could not.

"We study the relevance of the act and it is just a normal study. It is an ongoing study of the ministry," he said.

Asked on the complaints from the internet media relating to the matter, Fu said : "What is there to complain about? Never did I say we are going to amend this law to control the internet media"

"Nobody has said that we are going to enact a law to control the internet media. I only said we are going to study the existing Printing Presses and Publications Act, " he said.

..and here are TWO comments in Letters to Malaysiakini on the STOP the Forum issue
LETTERS: Gag order will only work for the short-term;A Sepet Guy Jul 31, 06 5:26pm

Why have people responded with great disappointment to Pak Lah's order to stop the Article 11 forums? Because his statement actually hurts us deeply. It was so painful to swallow on that Wednesday morning. I believe many of us never intend for strife to happen.

I believe many of us are peaceful people. I believe many of us actually love Malaysia. We want to be good Malaysians. That's why we bother to invest our time to write to the newspapers. We want to love our prime minister. Yet his statement actually hurt many of us deeply. That's why we say we are disappointed. It is not that we are anti-PM.

I remember during my primary school days in the 1980s, we used to have few chapters on religions (I think it was in the Sejarah textbook if I am not mistaken). One chapter was on Islam where all of us learn about the Prophet Muhammad and his work and about the five pillars of the faith. Another chapter was on Christianity, another on Buddhism and so on.

Perhaps, with Pak Lah's blanket order, I am afraid we might have to even delete those chapters because the inquisitive mind of a child would want to know why the God that he believes in is different from the God of other religions. If not, these kids (including mine), too, would one day, grow up to form groups like Article 11 going around explaining the Federal Constitution.

Or else, if we still want to maintain those chapters, we probably need to put warnings like films: 'These chapters are meant for reading only. Do not ask any questions'.

So while I believe the PM's intention is good, I think it would work in the short-term. In the long term? I don't think it would because if we do not deal with the root cause, the 'lalang' would grow again.


LETTERS: Allow forums to continue;Khoo Kay Peng Jul 31, 06 5:35pm

The recent 'stop talking' order given by the prime minister to the Article 11 forum organisers sends a wrong signal to the international community on Malaysia's intention to join the ranks of the civilised world. The action is an antithesis to the perception painted by the government to the international community that Malaysia is a modern, moderate and democratic nation which celebrates its religious and cultural diversity. The gag order bears serious constitutional consequences for all Malaysians.

There are a few pertinent questions that ought to be answered: first, are Malaysians legally allowed to discuss issues pertaining to their rights enshrined in the federal constitution even if these issues are related to ethnic relations, religion, cultural and social rights? Who is to decide if
the average Malaysians are ready or not to discuss ethnic relations and religious issues affecting them?

Second, is the action taken by the state in stopping a legally constituted forum an act of undermining the rights to freedom of speech enshrined in the federal constitution?

Third, what are the constitutional consequences faced by all citizens in the event that their constitutional rights are usurped by the state? What is the recourse available to them to seek protection of their constitutional rights?

Fourth, by stopping any civilised discourse on ethnic relations or religious freedom, can the state find an amicable solution to the inherent issues surfaced in the Moorthy, Shamala and Lina Joy cases or the ethnic biases which appeared in several ethnic relations and history publications?

A democratically elected government is responsible to defending and protecting the constitutional rights of its people freely to exercise their rights within the boundaries of the nation's legal framework. In this case, the anti-Article 11 protesters can continue their peaceful and non-violent protests against the proceedings of Article 11 forums but the forums should be allowed to continue. The role of the state is to ensure that the action of the opposing parties is not affecting the rights of the other.

With the control of coercive instruments of power including several draconian legislation eg, the Internal Security Act at the disposal of the government, it is beyond doubt that the threat from the government to act against the continuation of the discourse is real. The only thing that we
can do is to remind the government that its action is a recipe of authoritarian rule. The price is Malaysia's international standing as the champion of the oppressed nations. We should not preach what we cannot practice.
contd. reading (on War Risk Zone)at :
Bloggers or “Meta REPORTERS” - SELF-Indulgent; OPINIONATED Folks Reporting on WHAT has been REPORTED; depend on Mainstream MEDIA for TALKING POINTS


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