Malaysia to set up unit to counter online ‘lies’

April 27, 2007

The unfettered online accusations of government corruption over the past weeks in the run-up to two hotly-contested by-elections in Malaysia have prompted the government to enter the cyber battlefield by setting up a unit to monitor and counter the “lies”.

Deputy Information Minister Chia Kwang Chye said the unit will not have enforcement power, but will use as ‘weapons’ the written word to “disseminate information, explain correct information, and counter the misinformation on government policies,” reports the New Straits Times.


Government censorship of Net tends to be self-defeating, says SEAPA executive director

April 16, 2007

“For all their best intentions, those who seek to control content in cyberspace have a tendency to breed self-fulfilling fears,” says SEAPA Executive Director Roby Alampay, in an opinion piece published on IHT on 12 April 2007, following the Thai government’s blocking of YouTube. Read it in full.

Also, hear his interview with Voice of America, explaining the precarious situation in Thailand as regards freedom of expression under the current military regime.

Is it time to rein in the lese majeste law in Thailand?

April 12, 2007

David Streckfuss, a scholar who has studied the sensitive issue of lese majeste in Thailand, dares to ask this in the Bangkok Post. Streckfuss argues that the law is easily – and has been repeatedly – abused. He points out that for a law that is meant to protect the monarchy, its application has hardly done that – quite the reverse, in fact – and cites what the wise King Bhumibho Adulyadej himself has said on the matter. More here.

Thailand’s Internet law “overbroad”, says ARTICLE 19

April 9, 2007

ARTICLE 19, an international NGO working to protect and promote free expression, has analysed Thailand’s draft of the Computer-Related Offences Commission Act and found it detrimental, especially in the following aspects:

  • It establishes unduly broad prohibitions on accessing information over computer systems.
  • The penalties, which extend to capital punishment, are far too heavy for the offences.
  • Unduly broad limits on the sale of computer software are established, along with liability for anyone who sells the software, regardless of any complicity in a crime.
  • Liability is extended to service providers, regardless of whether or not the material in question has been identified as illegal by a court.
  • A crime of defamation for altering pictures of third parties is established.
  • Broad enforcement powers are given to ‘competent officials’ to enforce these rules, largely without any judicial scrutiny. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Playboy Indonesia’ editor acquitted

April 5, 2007

playboy_id_1.jpegPlayboy Indonesia editor-in-chief Erwin Arnada has been cleared of distributing indecent pictures and profiting from them. Chief Judge Erfan Basyuning ruled that pictures of scantily dressed women, under criminal laws, was not pornography. 

Erwin had faced nearly three years in prison in a case closely watched by conservative Muslims in the country, who had tried to disrupt the trial and intimidate those involved, according to SEAPA founding member, The Alliance of Indenpendent Journalists (AJI). Islamic hardliners vandalised Playboy’s offices in south Jakarta after the magazine was launched. Playboy Indonesia now operates from the Hindu island of Bali. More here.