Malaysia is once again in the spotlight, but this time, might be for a wrong reason.
The Government has said on Saturday that it will study whether it is necessary to ban access to Facebook in the country following cases of abuse. It is currently seeking public opinion on the matter.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, commented, “If the people are of the opinion that Facebook should be closed, we are prepared to look into the matter but it is a radical approach.”
So what lead to this? According to Bernama, the Official Portal of Malaysia’s National News Agency, an irresponsible individual had “deliberately insulted” Tuanku Abdul Halim by uploading a photograph of “a gory accident” and inserting the King’s image in the Facebook account recently. Tuanku Abdul Halim is the 14th and current Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, as well as the 27th and current Sultan of Kedah.
The Communications and Multimedia Minister added that while his agency will look into the matter, it would be quite impossible to completely ban Facebook in the country as there are 15 million local accounts compared to only 2,000 reports of abuse received.
If it is impossible to ban, one can’t help but ask, why conduct the study that may cost taxpayers’ money in the first place? If Facebook is banned, mobile data usage in the country would also drop dramatically, and businesses which rely on Facebook as a channel to reach out to their customers would surely suffer.
Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng also added that the suggestion is “outrageous”, saying banning Facebook would send Malaysia back to the dark ages.
“BN’s proposal 2ban Facebook is outrageous. Will revert 2feudalism n Dark Age autocracy. Does BN think they can then win back younger voters?” he tweeted.
He added that if the nation does end up banning Facebook, DAP, the opposition party will be organizing a nation-wide protest.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has earlier suggested the Malaysian government to censor the Internet, citing that “any kind of freedom will always be open to abuse”. In his latest post on his personal blog, Dr. Mahathir said that the time has come to stop the freedom of speech of the press and he admitted that they need to be censored.
“Not knowing the power of the Internet, I promised that we (speaking as the Prime Minister of Malaysia) would not censor it. But today I have changed my mind.”