The blocking of The Malaysian Insider by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission marks yet another act of "utmost desperation" by Prime Minister Najib Razak to muzzle an independent media, says Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali.
"I categorically condemn this move and call for its immediate and unconditional lifting.
"This is yet another case of reckless abuse of executive power in a long line of constitutional violations by the government in a systematic campaign to cow independent news organisations into submission," Azmin said in a statement today.
The PKR deputy president also pointed out that what is at stake is more than just freedom of information and expression, but the very foundations of constitutional democracy where the rule of law must prevail over the rule of the powers that be.
"Our economy is already in the doldrums and investors’ confidence is at its lowest in view of the string of scandals and the blatant disregard for transparent and accountable financial practices under the current administration.
"In light of the various other acts of desperation, what we are witnessing is the institutional breakdown of democratic processes that will ultimately take this nation to the tipping point," Azmin stressed.
Separately, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang also described the government's move as a gross overreaction, likening it to "using a sledgehammer to kill a fly".
"The government has a plethora of laws against Internet abuse and the ban on The Malaysian Insider is completely unjustifiable, especially as the news portal had not received any prior notice of the ban.
"I call on the prime minister to uphold and abide by the 20-year Bill of Guarantee to the world of 'No Internet Censorship' and immediately revoke the ban and ensure that good sense prevails," he said in a statement.
Veiled threat to other media companies
Meanwhile, Center for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) said that restricting access to The Malaysian Insider is also tantamount to issuing veiled threats to other media companies.
“All exercise of discretionary powers by public authorities vested with the relevant powers, other than cases involving real threats to national security like military action or terrorism, must be justified by providing clear and unequivocal charges and reasons.
“In other words, MCMC has a duty to give reason in line with the current jurisprudence of public administrative laws,” the NGO said in a statement.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) confirmed yesterday that it has blocked access to news portal The Malaysian Insider , through the Malaysian Internet service providers (ISPs).
However, MCMC did not state how the portal flouted Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, which deals with abuse of communications networks.
The MCMC statement said the ban came after “public complaints” and reminded news portals not to publish unverified reports.