PM vows no Internet censorship despite FB, Twitter influence

By Melissa Chi, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 12 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak vowed today not to Internet censorship but will instead engage further with Malaysians when acknowledging that people now use social networking sites to express outrage. 

The prime minister was asked to comment on the crucial role of Facebook and Twitter, that has eventually led to the resignation of Egyptian strongman, President Hosni Mubarak, and how that recent incidents of ousting its leaders in the Arab world, translates to Malaysia. 

“We’re not going to take that line. We’re talking about engaging the people so that the people understand the intention of government policies because the intention is good, because sometimes, they get a wrong appreciation about what we do,” he said, citing the growing group of fans on Facebook against 100-story tower project, as an example. 

The Egyptian government had briefly banned the micro-blogging site, Twitter, as a result of massive protests arranged via social networking sites. 

Najib said the power of the Internet is not surprising as it is part of a global phenomenon. 

He added that the government can either choose to not partake in the global trend, or embrace it. 

“We have chosen to be part of it but that means we have to manage it. 

“We have a society that’s more educated, a society that’s more technologically savvy and therefore the challenge is more on the government to manage this new political environment,” he said. 

Najib admitted that it is not an easy task because they do not have a monopoly over information or over the dissemination of information, highlighting the inaccuracies in certain postings in the past. 

“In fact, social networking information can be disseminated in real time, it doesn’t mean the views are correct,” he said. 

However, he maintains the effectiveness of the novel way of reaching out to the mass. “I’m a part of Facebook and I’m doing my own tweeting now. People don’t believe I’m tweeting myself, but I am,” the prime minister said.