Minister says BN putting necks on the line over internet regulation bid

Dahlan insisted that Malaysians will be able to gauge if the controversial move benefitted national security in two or three years’ time. — AFP pic
Dahlan insisted that Malaysians will be able to gauge if the controversial move benefitted national security in two or three years’ time. — AFP pic

SUBANG JAYA, Aug 21 — Barisan Nasional (BN) is prepared to face the potential backlash over its plans to regulate the Internet despite public outcry, Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said today.

The local government, urban wellbeing and housing minister insisted that Malaysians will be able to gauge if the controversial move benefitted national security in two or three years’ time.

“We are willing to put our future as a political party on the table to let the people decide.

We’re willing to face the consequences from the Opposition or the rakyat,” the BN strategic communications director told a press conference here after delivering his keynote address at the National Housing and Property Summit here.

He was responding to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s announcement yesterday that plans to regulate the Internet are in the pipeline to prevent the spread of “insults and untruths”.

In his speech last night, Najib added that the government was only interested to prevent criminal defamation and was not seeking to shackle social media.

The prime minister said Putrajaya was well aware of the criticism it faced on the Internet but claimed that unlike other countries, Malaysia has not resorted to muzzling government critics.

Newly appointed Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak has proposed amending laws related to the Internet like the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, while the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) recently blocked access to the Sarawak Report website that had been publishing critical news of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Abdul Rahman said today that while social media has been an excellent communication tool, it is also often used by some for wrong reasons.

"There is a small segment involved in abusing this means and unfortunately they have a big influence," he said, pointing out to racially-toned speculation on social media about the recent Low Yat race riot.

“Look at the Low Yat incident..the propaganda and the lies from all sides..not just to protect the majority..the minority also has to be protected," the minister added.

The ethnic clash at Low Yat Plaza last month that injured several people happened after a Malay youth allegedly stole a handphone from a store at the tech mall, after which rumours swirled on social media that he was sold a counterfeit by a Chinese trader.