CENBET: Provide reasons to justify blocking of TMI

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) should provide clear reasons to justify its blocking of The Malaysian Insider news portal, instead of only "vague reasons couched in general blanket terms".

The Centre for A Better Tomorrow (CENBET) said there should be no reason to restrict access to the site unless it contained seditious or pornographic content, calls to topple the government through violence, or elements that could harm national security.

CENBET described the blocking of the portal as an attempt at supressing the local media and "intimidating the Fourth Estate in the country".

"Merely stating that the portal could be in breach of Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act does not answer how content in the portal could be "obscene, indecent, menacing or offensive with the intent to "annoy, abuse, threaten or harass," it said in a statement today.

Instead of only offering "vague reasons couched in general blanket terms", as motives for the ban, CENBET urged MCMC to specify the article in contention, who the aggrieved party is, and why this warranted the drastic move.

"Curtailing access to The Malaysian Insider through administrative measures is tantamount to issuing veiled threats to other media companies and this goes against the government's pledge to ensure a free and responsible press.

"In a healthy democracy, a free press acts as a check-and-balance on the government and is a platform for ideas to flourish," CENBET added.