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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Crackdown on media an act of intimidation, groups say after MCMC raid on Malaysiakini

KUALA LUMPUR - Several groups today criticised the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) over a raid on news portal Malaysiakini yesterday, calling it intimidation and a crackdown on the press.

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) expressed concern over MCMC's use of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for the raid, noting that the same law was used to indefinitely block access to now-defunct news portal The Malaysian Insider earlier this year.

“The use of criminal laws against news organisations for running stories of public interest is unacceptable and could be construed as an act of intimidation.

“The IoJ maintains its position that aggrieved parties have every opportunity to engage media organisations over any dispute related to a news report, failing which they have the option to pursue legal recourse through the civil court,” it said in a statement.

It urged the MCMC to stop such raids and to respect media and internet freedoms as enshrined under the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC)'s Bill of Guarantees.

Yesterday, a six-man team from the MCMC paid a surprise visit on news portal Malaysiakini’s office in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, and confiscated two computers.

According to Malaysiakini, the MCMC raid was over two video clips it had uploaded in July on its website of a press conference by former Umno politician Datuk Khairuddin Abu Hassan that was critical of Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali.

Malaysiakini said it is being investigated under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, for alleged improper use of network facilities.

Separately today, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) described the raid as a politically-motivated crackdown on free media and expression.

“There is no basis for any media to be investigated under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for choosing to maintain a video coverage of a press conference online.

“The use of CMA against an individual or organization such as Malaysiakini for an online item made to cover or reflect information or statement made by another individual is simply absurd. This perverse line of logic suggests that a person can be ‘investigated’ for sharing a 3rd party’s comments and be penalized for that,” it said in a statement.

Malaysiakini was previously subject to a joint raid by the MCMC and the police nearly a year ago, over its news report on the transfer of a deputy public prosecutor seconded to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s special operations division.

In the November 6, 2015 raid, a computer was also seized, the news outlet said.

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