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Friday, June 29, 2012

Pakatan MPs want Evidence Act changes revoked



Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers want the government to withdraw the problematic amendments to the Evidence Act, passed in a hurry during the Dewan Rakyat session in April, saying “serious consequences were overlooked”.

They said the amendments to include Section 114(A) to the Act must be revoked before it is gazetted as it also seen as a move to muzzle the Internet media.

“It is intimidating to the online media by making them responsible for the posting of others on their website. 

“Bloggers are affected too, not only Pakatan MPs are bloggers, some BN MPs are bloggers too and even they will be held accountable,” said Subang PKR MP R Sivarasa.

Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) and Dzulkefly Ahmad (PAS-Kuala Selangor) were also present at the press conference yesterday at Parliament House, where the MPs outlined their concerns:
  • The amendments wrongfully presume guilt rather than innocence. It makes individuals and organisations who administer, operate or provide spaces for online community forums, blogging and hosting services, liable for content that is published through its services. This undermines core principles of justice, democracy and fundamental human rights.
  • It allows hackers and cyber criminals to go free by making the person whose content/computer is hacked liable for any content/data that might have been changed.
  • It will dampen user-driven production and consumption of Internet content which can negatively impact Malaysia’s thriving Internet economy, a significant contributor (about 4 percent) to our country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
  • It threatens the principle of anonymity online, which is crucial in promoting a free and open Internet.
  • It threatens freedom of expression online.
The MPs also cited UN special rapporteur Frank La Rue’s report to the UN condemning how “laws that purportedly protect an individual’s reputation, public order or national security ultimately are used to censor the expression of information deemed unfavourable to the government and other powerful bodies”.

They also pointed out those in the food industry, especially restaurant and cafĂ© owners, will be affected as local councils such as the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) are contemplating making wireless Internet service mandatory. 

“This amendment put the owners of such establishments in the situation where they are now criminally liable for the actions of anonymous customers,” said Sivarasa.

“I hope they (the BN MPs) can see this and unite in a bipartisan effort to not gazette the amendment,” said Dzulkefly, adding that “it is a well-intended law but ill-conceived”.

The controversial amendment was passed by the Dewan Negara in May and is now awaiting the agong's consent before it is gazetted and comes into effect.

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