KUALA TERENGGANU: Bloggers who incite hatred or harp on sensitive issues like race and religion in their postings can be prosecuted for sedition, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
He said the Government would put in place a mechanism to monitor and prevent seditious content from being displayed on blogs.
While squelching free expression and written political dissent on any issue merits the ire of human rights advocates everywhere, one also wonders how consistently these vague but rhetorically charged accusations will be applied. Will bloggers who criticize Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, secularism, or less popular strands of Islam experience the same indictment as those who address or challenge reigning ideologies?
“The proposed mechanism will not only protect Islam or the Malays but all Malaysians,” he said after attending a state Umno gathering at Batu Burok here yesterday.
Hishammuddin said issues relating to the monarchy, race or religion were sensitive in a plural society like Malaysia and there must be some laws to prevent seditious postings on the Internet.
In what sense is a society “plural” if it actively targets frank discussion of sensitive issues? Such smacks of the ever-prescient repartee concerning the Soviet era:
American: In America, we are free to criticize our president.
Soviet: In Russia, we are free to criticize your president too!
“In the past we didn’t have such problems but with the advent of cyberspace, such seditious postings could probably hurt the feelings of certain communities,” he said.
What about the feelings of bloggers and other dissenters whose freedoms are threatened? Do their feelings not deserve consideration as well?
Hishammuddin delivering his speech during the launch of the Umno leadership programme in Kuala Terengganu Monday.
Hishammuddin said the proposed move was not meant to clamp down or censor the Internet”¦
Of course not!
“¦ but to maintain the peace and harmony among the people in the country.
“There are a few irresponsible bloggers; I”m not saying all have the tendency to post sensitive issues.
“There should be some boundaries when posting in blogs. Irresponsible bloggers can cause disunity and derail the Malaysia concept,” he said.
And the Malaysian concept is”¦?