In moves bound to embolden Sri Lanka’s own regime to officially clamp down on websites, Thailand and Malaysia blocked or shut down hundreds of websites this week. Thailand’s manifestly idiotic and regressive lese majeste laws were used to shut down 344 out of a total of 400 sites it shut down. As this Asia Media report notes,
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministry said that between March and August this year, it detected more than 1,200 sites disturbing the peaceful social order and morality of the people, and/or which were considered detrimental to national security.
And you then wonder why private ISPs such as Dialog Telekom (a subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia International BhD) supinely accede to diktats by our incumbent regime to block access to Tamilnet.
Not to be outdone in South East Asia’s silly season on the web, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission earlier this week ordered all 19 of the country’s Internet service providers to block the controversial political portal Malaysia Today. As noted in CNet News the MCMC states that,
“It is being blocked because we found that some of the comments on the Web site were insensitive, bordering on incitement”.
What’s particularly pernicious about the Malaysian case is that the Malaysian government has broken a promise not to censor the Internet. As the CNET News story goes on to note, this was “a commitment it first made when the nation launched its Multimedia Super Corridor strategy in 1996. Under the MSC Malaysia 10 Point Bill of Guarantees, the government pledges to ‘ensure no Internet censorship.'”
I was in Malaysia last year during GKP III amidst street demonstrations and unrest, when news reports of the ethnic and communal rifts that were turning violent read like capsules of Sri Lanka’s own sordid history of ethnic marginalisation and discrimination.
I strongly feel that it is only a matter of time before the Sri Lankan regime begins to follow the reprehensible examples of Thailand and Malaysia.