It is alarming to learn that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has asked Twitter delete messages criticism of the government’s alleged mismanagement of flooding, a request rejected by the social media platform.

Has the MCMC now descended to the level of the government propaganda machine?

The MCMC is the content regulator of the multimedia industry in Malaysia. The message reported by the MCMC was a tweet about a flood-related fundraising event involving Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun.

Other content reported by the commission was an article criticizing the Minister of Entrepreneurial Development and Cooperatives, Noh Omar, for his statement regarding the eligibility of flood victims to claim government assistance.

The MCMC claimed to have flagged the posts as inappropriate or “obscene”, although they were mere comments critical of the government due to its mismanagement of the floods.

However, it is worth questioning the speed of action of the MCMC when it comes to expressions in the form of criticism of the government or members of the cabinet.

Yet there have been numerous instances of cyberbullying, sexist, racist and religious bullying as well as bigotry that the commission does not report.

Media, including social media, is the fourth area of ​​democracy and is meant to control politicians, while the MCMC, as content regulator, should act in the best interest of the public.

Therefore, the MCMC is clearly abusing its powers to promote the interests of politicians. Faced with the flood crisis, the MCMC should:

use all its resources to share and update the latest information on natural disasters, especially floods, and coordinate with various civil society groups to ensure effective coordination among different stakeholders and in turn ensure security people affected

working with civil society groups and social media companies to develop contextualized community standards for better regulation of hate speech and what justifies content removal, while promoting freedom of expression based on principles gender equality, non-discrimination and diversity

ensure that independent factors are taken into account when asking social media companies to remove content (an independent panel should be set up to liaise with social media companies). The decision should also be guided by the aforementioned contextualized community norms.

stop using repressive laws, including section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, which aims to restrict freedom of expression, and adopt the necessary plans to revise or repeal these laws.

ensure a better media environment that promotes healthier discussions for Malaysians and stop suppressing healthy debates. Instead, the MCMC should promote media reforms such as the establishment of the Malaysian Media Council and tackle the news unrest caused by disinformation, cybertroopers and hate speech. – December 27, 2021.

* Ng Miao Ling is program manager at the Center for Independent Journalism Malaysia.

* This is the opinion of the author or post and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.

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