Apr 16, 2009

Rais : Govt wants to ensure Internet not abused

The government is not looking to find fault with bloggers and other internet users but would like them to follow the law to ensure they did not misuse it. Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said the ministry played an important role in establishing only the right kind of information reached the masses.

KUALA LUMPUR (April 16, 2009) : Bloggers who "twist the truth" should face the music and be held accountable, says the new Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim

"Anybody who violates the laws of this country has to answer for his actions. And there are various laws that govern the rights of people to communicate through the Internet," said Rais.
He said the Communications Act 1998 would be used to bring errant bloggers to book.

"Those who have been maligned by bloggers have the right to report to us," he said, adding that a mechanism will be established to prevent abuses of the system.

Rais said the ministry was not out to hunt down bloggers, but to ensure news is not "twisted".

"We are not looking for people to prosecute, but the Communications Department under this ministry will be looking out for news that has been maligned or twisted or untruths.

"There already is a minimal standard of monitoring, but the public can come to us if they feel they are being harmed by acts on the Internet which intrude into their personal livese," he added.

When asked how the "truth" in blog posts would be evaluated, Rais said it was a matter of proof.

"It is very simple (to evaluate the truth). If someone says A is corrupt, he has to prove the corruption, and if he says A is a murderer, he has to prove it. If he can't, he has to answer to the authorities. So one should be careful when discussing the personal matters of others, as this ministry is playing a role in safeguarding stability," he said.

Rais also said the ministry would investigate posts made by Malaysians overseas, and leave it to the Attorney General's chambers to decide on any further action.

Asked whether investigations by the ministry would be perceived as a form of censorship, Rais said it was a question of enforcing the laws in place.

Rais, who was speaking to reporters after his ministry's monthly assembly at Laman Budaya today, denied allegations of a blackout in Radio Television Malaysia over coverage of the Terengganu State Assembly boycott on Monday, and said RTM had the right to choose what news it aired.

"I leave it to RTM to pick whatever news it wants to air. It is just like any other TV station, and the government has the right to air whatever it thinks should take priority. If there was any bias, or any party feels it is unfair, we will investigate," he said, adding that the lack of coverage of the incident should not be seen as censorship.

"We prioritise what we should present to the people. There is no prejudice," he said, pointing out that censorship was everywhere and not limited to Malaysian media.

Rais also said his ministry was committed to making the Prime Minister's 1Malaysia concept a success.

"Our first goal would be to make the concept and practice of 1Malaysia a success, by involving the facilities of the departments in this ministry.

"We will use all these departments to give information, entertain, and involve the public in the core aims of the nation," he added.

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