I read in the papers last week about the proposal by the Minister of Information Datuk Seri Rais Yatim to implement Internet filter in Malaysia. I know that this has raised much debate among the public on the line or in the papers. In recent years, Internet has been a very important source of information especially after the mainstream media is said to have been strictly under scrutiny in some countries. According to the statistics, there are rough estimation of 15.8 million Internet users in Malaysia in year 2008, out of the total Malaysia population of nearly 26 million. This means that there are about 62.8% Internet users that will be affected if the net censorship is implemented.
Right now, most of the people felt that it is inappropriate for the government to implement net censorship since China’s Green Dam Internet filter system has met with a lot of resistance and condemnination. Although Rais Yatim has given assurance that the filter was only to censor pornography information, many Internet users are still unable to accept it since they believed that the filter will somehow affect their access to the Internet and there will be more restriction in expressing their thoughts or receiving online information.
As a blogger myself, of course I do not wish to see my articles having to wait for green light from the censorship board before it could be published online. But I do have confidence in the Prime Minister Najib who has said that the government will NOT censor the Internet because it will be ineffective in a borderless world where information flows freely. I applaud the statement from the PM, not because he is the PM, but because what he said does make sense. We are living in a borderless world where competition is intense. Without Internet, we will be handicapped to compete with others and be left behind.
If blocking the online pornography were the main cause to the introduction of the Internet filtering system, then a general Internet filtering system would be an overkill. In fact, the suggestion by the Terengganu state government to use special software on e-Books to curb access to pornographic sites is a much better idea. The PM should walk the talk and that is no Internet filter system.