It’s not entirely surprising that the government’s failure to compete effectively with independent voices on the internet has led to its policy of “If you can’t beat em, and you failed and joining them, then ban ’em”.
Rais Yatim today announced tenders for an Internet filter to block undesirable content, a move that directly contravenes the stipulations of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Bill of Guarantees.
“It is to keep out pornographic materials and bloggers who inflame racial sentiments. We need to maintain racial harmony. We cannot have full-blown democracy like in the United States,” a senior government official told AFP.
Bloggers who inflame racial sentiments are bad. But columnists for UMNO owned newspapers who inflame racial sentiments are just doing their job. Deputy Prime Ministers who do it are just being responsible politicians.
As a blogger this makes me happy – it’s a sign, like the Saturday crack down and ensuing barrage of negative press against Anwar Ibrahim, that we’re doing our job well and the corrupt people who run this country are incapable of addresing their fabulous unpopularity except by stifiling dissent and preventing the free flow of information.
And it is well known that Internet filters don’t work. The minute one goes up, I along with all my fellow bloggers will teach you how to circumvent the filters in case our sites are deemed to be “undesirable.”
But what will foreign investors think? Especially the technology companies we are trying to woo? Microsoft? Dell? Google?
And why can’t we have democracy like the US? Why can’t we have the right to free speech and free assembly as our Constitution guarantees?
This study and tender is just another waste of money and reflects Rais Yatim’s relative incompetence as information minister. The country’s internet infrastructure is already among the worst in the region and internet access speeds are pitifully slow. Try solving that problem first please.
See also reuters coverage here: Reuters