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CIJ ticks off MCMC over needless court case

 | March 17, 2011

The press freedom watchdog is relieved that blogger Hassan Skodeng is free, but angry that public funds have been wasted.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), while welcoming the withdrawal of a charge against blogger Hassan Skodeng for writing a piece of satire, today blasted the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for initiating the case and thereby causing a waste of public funds.

The blogger, whose real name is Irwan Abdul Rahman, got into trouble for posting an article entitled “TNB to sue WWF over Earth Hour” on Mar 25 last year.

Irwan, a Malay Mail editor, cooperated with the authorities when he realised that TNB (Tenaga Nasional Berhad), as well as MCMC, had taken the article seriously despite disclaimers on his blog.

CIJ noted that there were no grounds for prosecution and exhorted the federal government to cease such needless actions and respect the right to freedom of expression.

It said the MCMC regulations clearly allowed satire in online content.

“As for the MCMC, in recommending this case for prosecution and withdrawing it only now, it appears to be sending a disturbing message to other bloggers that satire would not necessarily be tolerated, in direct contradiction of their own code,” CIJ said in a press statement.

It also criticised Section 233(3)(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act, under which Irwan was charged.

“The section makes it an offence to knowingly create and transmit any content that is ‘obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person’. This is overly broad and can be open to government misuse to threaten or harass online users,” the statement said.


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