Wednesday, August 13, 2014

There must be no restriction to Facebook freedom

Media Statement by Yeo Bee Yin, DAP Social Media Strategist and State Assemblywoman for Damansara Utama on Sunday, 10 August 2014 in Petaling Jaya.

We will not give an inch - Putrajaya should not waste time to even think about blocking Facebook.

We are greatly disturbed by the remarks made by the Minister of Communication and Multimedia Dato Sri’ Ahmad Shabery Cheek on Putrajaya's ‘readiness’ to study whether Facebook should be blocked in Malaysia in order to limit the abuse of the social network.

This is not the first time Putrajaya attempts to limit internet freedom. We have not forgotten the incident when BBC’s website publishing article entitled “#BBCtrending: Be careful what you say about spinach”, was suspiciously blocked temporarily in January.

Even without Facebook ban, Malaysia is already at its all time low in history in terms of freedom of expressions. Malaysia suffered a sharp fall of 23 rungs in the 2013 World Press Freedom Index (PFI) from 122nd to 145th out of 179 countries, our lowest-ever position, lower even than Zimbabwe, Cambodia and Kyrgyzstan.

If Facebook is to be banned in Malaysia, we’ll join the likes of North Korea, Cuba, Iran and China as “Facebook-banning countries”, a path that no Malaysian who cherishes freedom of expression will ever allow.

We would like to remind Putrajaya of the Multimedia Super Corridors Bill of Guarantees No.7 that promises no internet censorship. Since it has already promised no internet censorship, then why waste time to even think and talk about blocking Facebook?

As of now, one out of every three minutes spent online is on social networking in Malaysia. Facebook, being the largest social network in Malaysia, is used by more than 13 million Malaysians. Therefore, the freedom to use Facebook should be protected in order to protect internet freedom in Malaysia.

With the mainstream media freedom being restricted by Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984, internet freedom becomes an important arm in protecting and promoting democracy and freedom of expression in Malaysia.

Therefore, we’ll not give an inch on any attempt by Putrajaya to limit internet freedom. Putrajaya should stop dreaming about it.

Yeo Bee Yin