Unfair to block The Malaysian Insider, say groups

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia- Media groups have hit out at the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for blocking an online news portal, saying no clear reason was given over the action.

The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) said while it did not condone any violation of the law, no clear reason was given by the authorities in imposing the block on The Malaysian Insider (TMI).

In a statement on Thursday, the MCMC had said that the portal was blocked for violating Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

"The authority did not indicate which article was deemed to have fit the description and the subject of public complaints," said the IOJ, expressing its concern that no notice was sent to TMI.

It also said that the tweet by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar for TMI's chief editor to be hauled up for questioning appeared to be a "knee-jerk reaction to news articles that may or may not be critical of the ruling administration".

"Such unilateral action could also be construed as an attempt to intimidate the media against running critical news reports," it said.

Geramm said it was disheartened by the block, adding that it was "seen to be unclear, unsubstantiated and unfair".

"Clamping news publications is directly opposite of a healthy democracy," said Geramm, adding that a notice and ample warning should have been given in due diligence of the law.

It also raised its concern that the action might be linked to a report quoting anonymous sources.

"We urge the authorities to respect the media's right to use and protect the identity of anonymous sources," said Geramm.