‘Government responsibility’ to block Sarawak Report, minister says amid backlash

Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan in defending the block said that the government will not tolerate any website or news blogs that rely on tampered or falsified documents in their reports. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan in defending the block said that the government will not tolerate any website or news blogs that rely on tampered or falsified documents in their reports. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KOTA KINABALU, July 20 — An Umno minister today defended the move to restrict access to Sarawak Report (SR), saying it was the government’s way of taking a stand against the “vicious lies” allegedly spread on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) controversy.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said it was necessary for Putrajaya to put its foot down on the matter and claimed that other governments would have likely done the same.

“No government in the world will allow such blatant lies and controversial news to operate within a country.

“We know very well that Sarawak Report might be able to use other avenues to broadcast their vicious lies to Malaysia but we as a government must make a stand,” Abdul Rahman, who is also Barisan Nasional’s (BN) strategic communications director, told reporters at his open house in Tuaran today.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) yesterday confirmed that it has sent out instructions to all service providers in Malaysia to block access to SR’s website, pending investigations into verifying the site’s content.

“The contents could be fake. Such contents could affect the peace and cause national instability, disrupt public order and affect economic stability,” the regulator said in a statement.

The self-styled whistleblower website founded by UK-based journalist Clare Rewcastle-Brown, has in recent months been on an offensive against 1MDB, publishing a series of exposés on alleged mismanagement and irregularities at the state-owned firm and by related personalities.

However, the arrest of former PetroSaudi International executive Xavier Justo in Thailand revealed that the Swiss national had provided the site with leaked and possibly doctored documents on the Middle Eastern firm’s deals with 1MDB.

Abdul Rahman, in defending the block said that the government will not tolerate any website or news blogs that rely on tampered or falsified documents in their reports.

“Whether they can go around the system and still address Malaysians, that’s their problem. But at least the government is making a stand.

When asked to comment on whether muzzling the site was the government’s way of covering up its own mistakes, Abdul Rahman replied that news portals would likely still continue reporting on the alleged lies and fabricated articles from SR.

“Who is going to stop them? This is an open society but the government is making a stand by law, using laws and there are provisions in the laws of MCMC that any website, news portal already proven to be using tampered documents can be shut down.

“So, Malaysiakini can say all they like, whatever they like. But at the end of the day, it is the govt that will decide based on the law and the provision within MCMC Act,” he said in a direct swipe at independent news portal Malaysiakini.

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