Dear YB <MP’s name>.
I am writing concerning the proposed amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act that is being discussed at the May Parliamentary sitting.
As someone who uses the internet for my work, to gain useful information about things I care about and to connect with my friends and family, I feel very disturbed by this proposed amendment.
There are a few things I am worried about, and I list them below:
a) The lack of public consultation.
When changes to a law has such a far reaching impact to such a broad aspect of life, the public needs to be consulted. We hear that the the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has consulted the private sector about this – but they are only a small percentage of interested party in this matter. What about us? Who are the people who use and depend on the internet for a big part of our life? We are a majority group of constituent in this, and our concerns have not been heard.
b) More powers to block websites
I already am very confused when sites are forced to be taken down, because usually no reasons are given. Instead, I am just faced with a vague notice that says it has contravened some law, but no details are given. Especially when these sites are independent publishing sites, like The Malaysian Insider or sites with a big range of content like Medium – I especially was very concerned when this happened. I was an avid reader of Medium for articles on fashion and fishing. Suddenly, the entire platform is inaccessible, and I’m not sure why. Does this mean that MCMC can block things like Facebook if they think one page is a problem? What would this mean for my business that has a page on Facebook, where I have spent many years building a following? I think that for such an important decision, a court order is needed, so that all parties can be heard and a fair judgement is reached. It shouldn’t be up to the opinions of a body like MCMC, and especially when they don’t even have to give any reasons as to why. This creates a very unstable and uncertain internet experience for Malaysians. We need the internet to progress into a thinking and developed society – gatekeepers with increased powers and no accountability is bad for this, and bad for democracy.
c) Registration of bloggers and news sites
Malaysia has a growing and dynamic online community where enterprising people feel confident to set up initiatives online, and contribute to our information economy. But things like registration of bloggers threatens to kill this growth. When they introduced this in Singapore, many popular bloggers actually closed their sites because the administrative burden was too much. I am worried that the same thing will happen here. Keeping an online publishing initiative running and profitable is difficult enough, this would just make it even more so. Further, it doesn’t help to support the development of a mature online community, where writers can build their capability to write and moderate with ethics and responsibility. Registration basically sends a message that “you cannot be trusted, and the government will be watching you.” This is also not a good message that the government is sending to its people.
What is your personal stand on these issues and the proposed amendment? What steps will you or your party take to make sure that a proper open consultation is held with the public before the amendment is passed. So that there is a discussion about how this will impact our businesses, our livelihood, our ability to gain information, to connect with our friends and family, and also to our MP and ADUN.
Thank you for your commitment to keeping the Malaysian Internet a robust, free and dynamic one for its people. A reply to these questions will be highly appreciated.
<Your phone number>