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Asiaweek: A Crackdown on Dissent
By Arjuna Ranawana

17/3/2001 10:04 pm Sat

[Dengan memberkas komputer Raja Petra FAC, jaminan betapa internet tidak akan ditambat tidak boleh dipercayai lagi. Ini akan menyukarkan kerajaan menjayakan cita-cita MSC kerana adalah sukar untuk bergerak jika diikat kaki. Sepatutnya kerajaan mengikat kaki yang mencuri dana di siang hari barulah selesai semua masalah masa kini. Banyak negara boleh maju dan makmur dengan kebebasan maklumat melalui teknologi mengapa kerajaan BN begitu takut sehingga asyik memantau dan mencari?

Musuh sebenar negara sedang bermaharajalela dan dengan menangkap pengendali (laman web) ia tidak akan menghentikan apa-apa. Sebaliknya kerajaan akan lebih cepat binasa kerana kebenaran akan terpancar dengan terlebih segera. Bukankah itu yang telah berlaku kepada Galileo?

'You can kill the revolutionary but you can't kill the revolution'

- Editor],8773,102638,00.html


Thursday, March 15, 2001

A Crackdown on Dissent:

[The Malaysian government targets Web critics


Anxious to promote Malaysia as an information-technology center, the Kuala Lumpur government is keeping its promise not to censor the Internet. But people working on websites critical of the authorities say they are suffering increasing harassment and intimidation.

"It looks like a serious clampdown is taking place," says Raja Petra Kamaruddin, who runs an opposition website. Faced with almost suffocating state control of the mainstream media, dissenters have found a voice on the Internet - particularly since the 1998 arrest of former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. Hundreds of opposition websites, ranging from those belonging to official political parties to rabidly anti-government operations, draw millions of hits everyday.

The recent crackdown appears to have started after the country's united opposition began plans in March to organize street protests against the government's alleged use of state pension funds and the employment provident fund to prop up politically favored companies.

One of the sites under attack is that of the Free Anwar Campaign, run by one the former deputy leader's closest followers, Raja Petra . He has twice been interviewed by police in the past week, "as a witness in a sedition case," he told Asiaweek.

"They want to see whether we encourage demonstrations to take place."

Raja Petra cannot function as a webmaster anymore. Police removed computers and other equipment from his home March 7. The website continues to be updated by "our supporters located overseas," he says. Like many opposition sites, The Free Anwar Campaign's server is outside Malaysia.

Updates on stridently anti-government sites, such as Mahazalim - translation: "The Ultimately Cruel One" - which targets Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, have become less regular in recent days. Says Raja Petra: "Their webmasters seem to have gone underground."

Malaysiakini (Malaysia Now), the country's only independent Internet newspaper, has been under attack for several weeks by governing-party-run newspapers over its source of funds. Its reporters are also barred from government events. An attempt by its editor and chief executive to meet government officials to ease the situation doesn't seem to have borne fruit.

After Malaysiakini disputed the death toll in a recent clash between ethnic Indians and Malays in a Kuala Lumpur shantytown, police said they would ask the paper to explain how it got higher figures than those officially released. It could possibly face charges of sedition.

These moves have caused concern to Harakahdaily, the hugely popular online version of the main opposition Islamic Party's newspaper, Harakah.

"They [the government] can use all types of things against us," says Zulkifli Sulong, editor of both the online and print versions.

In a recent hearing of the country's Human Rights Commission, a police officer testified that a young woman protestor had admitted to him she had been "influenced" by the online Harakah to attend a demo. That statement possibly bodes ill for Harakah.

The government last weekend charged a leading opposition figure, Ezam Mohamad Nor, with sedition for allegedly saying he wanted to organize protests against the government. Demonstrations are illegal in Malaysia.

Zulkifli says his paper does not encourage demos, "although we report them when they take place." For a government that feels increasingly under siege, that distinction may no longer be visible.