The Malaysian government will not censor the internet, but bloggers and internet users need to know where to draw the line, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak reminded during his keynote address at the 1st Malaysian-ASEAN Regional Bloggers Conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The Conference was hosted by the Blog House Malaysia (BHM).
He attributed the government’s stand on not censoring the Internet to his predecessor, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is also BHM’s patron. “Tun made the promise to the world that Malaysia would never censor the Internet”, he said and Najib assured that his administration intended to keep to Tun Mahathir’s word and will welcome constructive criticism from bloggers. (To ensure no Internet censorship of the Internet is one of the MSC Malaysia 10 Points Bill of Guarantees; Tun Mahathir was instrumental in the development of the MSC Malaysia).
Najib added that although his administration may not always agree with the bloggers’ views, it is important for both parties to put forth their views for the betterment of Malaysia saying that “we do not fear bloggers… we want to be your partners”.
Malaysia practises open democracy, according to Najib, and as digital democracy is concerned, it is inevitable, and that it would be silly or futile for governments to resist or ignore it.
Earlier, during his welcoming address, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is a blogger himself, said that blogging should be encouraged as it helped the people to become more involved in the running of their own country. Mahathir reminded the audience that he himself and resorted to blogging when he couldn’t get his views across through the mainstream media after his retirement as prime minister.
He then advised the mainstream media to occasionally take views opposite to the government instead of reporting the government’s official stance as that would prevent the government from getting lopsided views about the public perception.