PETALING JAYA: Malaysians in the country can now access three websites that were blocked by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government over the past three years.
Checks showed that the news portal Asia Sentinel, publishing platform Medium and whistleblower Sarawak Report were accessible for viewing without restriction.
However, another website, Malaysian Chronicle, blocked since October 2015, could not be viewed by many, especially those using Unifi broadband and Digi 3G.
Malaysia Chronicle had however posted instructions on its Facebook page on how to adjust DNS settings to view its website.
The government had ordered that the sites be barred following reports they had carried about 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and then prime minister Najib Razak.
In February 2016, an online petition launched by civil liberties NGO Aliran to protest against restrictions imposed by the government on media freedom had demanded removal of the blocks on the three sites and the now defunct The Malaysian Insider.
A month earlier, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had prohibited access to Medium after its administrators failed to remove an article posted by Sarawak Report concerning Najib.
Medium is a publishing platform launched by the founder of Twitter that offers amateurs and professionals the chance to have their articles published.
MCMC had reportedly written to Medium requesting the removal of the article entitled “Najib negotiates his exit but wants safe passage and all the money”, which it claimed was “false, unsubstantiated, misleading, and in violation of Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998”.
MCMC also said that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had likewise complained about the article, saying allegations that the anti-graft body had recommended 37 separate charges against Najib in the case linked to 1MDB subsidiary SRC International were “untrue”.
The move to block Medium was made after the site’s administrators responded by asking MCMC for evidence that Malaysian law had been broken and that they be furnished a copy of the MACC’s statement refuting the allegations.
Asia Sentinel, a regional news site focusing on Malaysia, Indonesia, and China, became inaccessible after publishing “Malaysian PM Najib on way out, report says”, a reproduction of the article from Sarawak Report.
Internet users trying to reach the portal encountered the message “This website is not available in Malaysia as it violates national laws”.
On May 14, five days after Pakatan Harapan (PH) won the 14th general election, Sarawak Report had asked on its Facebook page if its site could be read by users in Malaysia, to which some responded by asking the website to be patient.
On May 17 this year, Lawyers for Liberty called on the new PH government to lift the ban on all the websites.
“The previous administration has greatly wronged freedom of the press and the public as a whole by shutting down these various websites that serve as whistleblowers and called attention to the government’s wrongdoings,” said the NGO’s executive director, Eric Paulsen.