Jan 24, 2007

Govt Won't Censor Internet Bloggers But They Must Be Responsible, Says Abdullah

LONDON, Jan 24 (Bernama) -- The government won't censor Malaysian bloggers on the Internet but they must be responsible for what they write, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Tuesday.

"We do not censor the Internet and that's our policy, but they (bloggers) must understand that there are also laws on defamation and sedition, for example.

"These laws are enforced. They should bear in mind that they cannot hide and they cannot take advantage of doing something against the law," he told Malaysian reporters here in his first comments on the country's growing number of online bloggers of late.

He was responding to a question on legal suits for alleged defamation filed by The New Straits Times newspaper and four of its senior executives against two popular blogs, Screenshots and Rocky Bru.

"The law is the law. They cannot hide and hope to be protected under some kind of a cover or whatever they think that they have," the prime minister added.

Abdullah said it was obvious that for bloggers and for journalists of other media, duty and responsibility must go together.

"And if you want freedom, what is freedom without responsibility," he asked. "I don't agree with freedom without responsibility. Freedom without responsibility is anarchy. Actually it becomes irresponsible," he added.

Earlier, Abdullah spoke at a gathering of scholars and diplomats organised by Britain's International Institute for Strategic Studies on what the West and the Muslim world could do to moderate the tensions and close the divide between them.

He made an impassioned plea to both sides to end the Palestinian conflict which he described as the single most powerful factor for the divide.

The prime minister also witnessed the presentation of a 50,000 pound Sterling (RM350,000) donation to the nearby London School of Economics (LSE) from four Malaysian ex-students of the prestigious university.

The four donors are Malaysia Airlines chairman Datuk Dr Munir Majid, AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes, businessman Datuk Azman Yahya and Carmen Chuah who gave 10,000 pound Sterling (RM70,000) each and the other 10,000 pound Sterling from the LSE Alumni Society of Malaysia.

The donation would be used to set up a teaching room named Malaysia Room at the university.

Abdullah told some 100 Malaysian students of the LSE present at the ceremony that Malaysia needed quality human capital to face up to the challenges and competition in the country's march to become a developed nation by 2020.

"We need our young people to have the best education to survive and to compete especially with China and India. There's no other means except to strengthen our human capital," he said.

The Prime Minister later left for Davos, Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum.

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