Gobind: Higher penalties proposed to regulate communications sector

Gobind Singh Deo says amendments are in line with PH’s election manifesto to deal with provisions in act that may be used to stifle political dissent.

PUTRAJAYA: Penalties will be increased substantially under proposed amendments to Section 53 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA).

This is to enable action to be taken against licensees who don’t follow the directives of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

“This will include efforts to increase the speed and reduce prices of broadband and to enhance competition in the industry,” said Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo.

He said the amendment would send a strong signal to all licensees that the government is serious in efforts to enforce provisions which regulate the communications and multimedia sector.

Gobind said the ministry would also amend Sections 233 of the act, which deals with the improper use of network facilities, network service or application service.

Gobind said the Pakatan Harapan government, in its election manifesto, had pledged to deal with draconian provisions in the act.

“Section 233 is one of the provisions that has been widely criticised as being too broad in its application resulting in abuse.

“There have also been concerns expressed over its use as a tool to stifle political dissent,” he said.

Gobind said the proposed amendment sought to introduce a requirement for proof of intent before any statement is deemed offensive.

This will eliminate the prospect of arbitrary prosecution or abuse in its use.

He said the ministry would seek the views of concerned groups before finalising the proposals, which may be tabled in the upcoming sitting of Parliament.