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On Merdeka eve, free speech online gets a ‘blackeye’

KUALA LUMPUR — The latest buzz in the Malaysian blogosphere is about the apology of a commenter for a remark he (or she) posted on a blog seemingly suggesting that a journalist be shot for an article that disparaged the country’s former prime minister, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad.

The incident highlights yet again the delicate balancing act that Malaysian bloggers have to do with respect to their exercise of free speech and free expression online, and takes significance especially coming as it does on the eve of festivities to commemorate 49 years of Merdeka, Malaysian independence from British colonial rule.

The individual, who used the alias IImran, issued an apology after posting “Somebody, please shoot this Gunasegaram for good” on Malaysia’s most prolific blogger Jeff Ooi’s site, Screenshots. The reference was to P. Gunasegaram, the executive editor of theSun and NexNews Group who wrote “The Myth of Mahathir’s Invincibility” which was published in theSun last week. The said article was republished on Ooi’s blog and sparked responses from bloggers, including IImran, who apparently did not approve of Gunasegaram’s attacks against Mahathir.

Yesterday, Gunasegaram lodged a complaint with the Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia (CMCF) against Ooi’s blog for carrying the said comment. The CMCF was set up under the Communications and Multimedia Act of 1988 and is tasked with monitoring online content and handling complaints.

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August 30, 2006 Posted by | Free Expression in Asia | 1 Comment