Jul 25, 2007

Nazri Aziz warns bloggers face harsh laws

Another warning. Looks like more blog suppressions will come before the next general election.

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - A senior Malaysian minister warned bloggers the government was fast losing patience and would bring the full weight of the law against those who use the Internet to insult the king or Islam, a report said Wednesday.

"Even thought the government has been tolerant of anti-government positions and criticisms on the Internet, we are very concerned about statements that insult religion and reek of racism," Nazri Aziz said.

"It is time to act. We have been very patient," Nazri, minister in the prime minister's department, was quoted saying by New Straits Times.

He said the government could use three current laws, including the harsh Internal Security Act -- which allows indefinite detention without trial -- and the Sedition Act, to take action.

The government was also looking at formulating new laws to allow it to monitor and act against offending bloggers.

Nazri said the proposed legislation was not intended to stifle the freedom of the Internet but "to put a stop to the freedom to lie in the blogsphere."

"We want blogs to be clean, a place to obtain accurate information, a reference point for honest opinion, not a platform to abuse and slander people," he said.

Nazri's comments come after a senior official from the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) lodged a police report on Monday against a political website, Malaysia Today.

UMNO information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib alleged that postings on the blog insulted Malaysia's king and Islam, and contained elements that could cause racial tension.

Media watchdogs have criticised moves by authorities against bloggers in two prominent cases.

Nathaniel Tan, an aide to former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, was detained by police for four days over an anonymous posting on his blog referring to corruption allegations against a minister.

Bloggers Ahirudin Attan and Jeff Ooi are also being sued for defamation by the government-linked New Straits Times Press group.

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