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Bersih mulls legal action if websites blocked

Bersih may take legal action against the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for blocking websites promoting and encouraging people to join its rally.

The electoral watchdog's steering committee member New Sin Yew said this is because the commission was prohibiting the right to information.

"If they don't lift the ban by rally time, we may take other necessary steps after the rally," he said at a press conference today.

Elaborating, New said everyone has the right to freedom of expression, as enshrined under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

"... Expression includes information; you can't express yourself if you don't receive sufficient information.

"What MCMC has done is effectively censor information," he said.

Citing a statement by the Home Ministry, MCMC today said the block is because these websites could threaten national stability.

The Bersih 4 rally will take place over the weekend and aims to, among others, press for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's resignation.

Meanwhile, New ( photo ) said the commission needed to show how news on the Bersih 4 rally could threaten the public order or public morality.

"If they do this arbitrarily without any justification, then I believe people will have to consider taking MCMC to court because everyone has the right to information.

"We may even consider a class action [...] let's sue (the MCMC) together.

"This is getting ridiculous. The MCMC does not decide what we see or hear," he stressed.

'MCMC acting colonial'

New urged Malaysians to lodge complaints with the MCMC to state that the banning of information was not right.

"Drop them an e-mail and then give the information to Bersih so that we can collate how many Malaysians have complained," he said.

Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah, meanwhile, admitted that a mode of communication would be very vital for them, especially since most participants would be using social media.

"It's a very wide ban. As a commission that's supposed to promote free flow of information, this is very shocking," she said.

Bersih resource person Wong Chin Huat ( photo ) also slammed the move by MCMC, stating that the commission was sending a wrong signal to the economy.

"We are not like China where we can afford to ban social media. We call on the MCMC to immediately withdraw the measure because it is putting the economy at risk," he said.

Wong said that the move by MCMC was 'unpatriotic' since the decision to restrict the flow of information is undermining the Merdeka celebration itself.

"What kind of free country are we talking about. The MCMC is acting like a colonial body on a colonised people (and) undermining the economy," he said.

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