PM asks Cabinet to re-look Evidence Act amendment
By A. Asohan August 14, 2012
- Must put people first, says the Prime Minister
- Stop114A campaign achieves its purpose … for now
MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said he has instructed his Cabinet to review a controversial law after civil society bodies, private individuals, Internet-related businesses and leaders from both sides of the political divide staged an online protest.
“I have asked Cabinet to discuss Section 114A of the Evidence Act 1950. Whatever we do we must put people first,” the Prime Minister said in a tweet at about 8pm, Aug 14.
Most of Malaysian cyberspace blacked out their websites and blogs to protest the contentious legislation, which has been in force since July 31 after having been passed in the Dewan Rakyat without much discussion or debate.
Civil society advocates say the law not only stifles freedom of expression, but may adversely affect all companies in Internet-related business, including those providing network and Wi-Fi services.
The Bill actually came from the Prime Minister’s Department, whose minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz tabled it for first reading on April 10. Nazri is also the minister who gazetted it on July 31, despite concerns having been raised.
Among those who objected to the amendment were those from the Barisan Nasional -- Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, and more recently, MCA Senator Gan Ping Sieu.
Earlier today, even the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia (Pikom), which represents more than 1,500 ICT companies in the country, urged a review.
“This amendment may appear to lower the bar for the prosecution of potentially innocent parties,” said Pikom president Shaifubahrim Saleh, adding that “Individuals and corporations would have to be more vigilant about any posting or content appearing on their website or social media channels.”
Efforts to see the law revoked or at least reviewed were spearheaded by the Center of Independent Journalism (CIJ), which called for Aug 14 to be an Internet “Blackout” Day – most posted a public service message pop-up, while others actually shuttered their portals.
Among those who participated the Bar Council, political party the DAP and its leader Lim Kit Siang, human rights lawyer Edmund Bon, noted activists and bloggers such as Marina Mahathir, Hishamuddin Rais Uppercaise, Nat Tan, Niki Cheong, Anil Netto, Juana Jaafar, Sarawak Bloggers, Fahmi Fadzil and myasylum.
News sites such as Free Malaysia Today, Malaysiakini, Digital News Asia, The Nut Graph, bfm, Merdeka Review, and party organ news sites Harakah Daily and Keadilan Daily also took part.
The protest was covered by international media such as the BBC, Radio Australia and Forbes.com.