KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - There is no need to censor political content on the Internet, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said during his tenure as prime minister, he did not censure information from the Internet and hoped the present Government would keep the status quo.
Dr Mahathir did acknowledge, however, that there is "too much filth and violence" on the Internet and that it should be vetted by the Government.
"But if people are not instigating violence, then it should not be censored," he said, adding that political content, such as blogs and online news portal should not be restricted.
Yesterday, Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim confirmed that there were plans to develop an Internet filtering system, although only for pornography.
Dr Mahathir, who was speaking to students at the Malaysian Student Leader Summit here, was also asked to comment on the recent seizure of beer from a convenience store in Shah Alam by local authorities.
"We shouldn't impose our religious views on other races," he said, in reference to Selangor PAS commissioner Datuk Hassan Ali's call for the open sale of alcohol to be banned in Muslim-majority areas.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice-president Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye welcomed the Government's decision to filter pornography on the Internet, saying that pornography could lead to crime and social problems.
"While I support the decision not to censor, my only concern is the availability of pornographic material online.
"We need to help the young generation differentiate the good from the bad. They need to be able to discern what is the truth, and what is not," he told The Star.
Lee said if the Government had decided to filter the content on the Internet, it would have received a negative response from the public.
"Any form of censorship, in this ICT era, will be unpopular as it is contrary to the need for transparency, accountability and the free flow of information," he said.
THE STAR / ASIA NEWS NETWORK