Malaysia blocks access to popular news website

August 28th, 2008 - 7:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Aug 28 (DPA) Malaysia Thursday blocked access to a popular news website that often carries anti-government articles, sparking criticism of cyberspace censorship.The extremely popular Malaysia Today website is run by Raja Petra Kamarudin, who was charged with sedition in May for allegedly implying that Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak was involved in the gruesome murder of a Mongolian woman.

Raja Petra has in the past been accused by the government of spreading lies and false rumours in his often sensational articles.

The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission, the country’s industry regulator, ordered all local internet service providers to block the Malaysia Today website as of Thursday, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said.

“I think so many opportunities and warnings have been given which are not heeded,” he was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency.

He defended the move to block access to the site, saying the published contents were “defamatory or slanderous to other people”.

Many local websites and blogs condemned the move, saying authorities were attempting to crack down on dissenting views.

The crackdown on Malaysia Today also drew criticism from bloggers and journalists who accused authorities of breaking its own promise of not censoring the internet.

“This just goes to show that they are afraid, they think they can control what the people read,” said James Tan, an avid blogger.

“But, they must realise the people have wised up.”

“You can block any website you want, we’re just going to find other ways to get information,” he said.

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