Has Fahmi Fadzil gone rogue?

Using state apparatus to shutdown those who criticize him

Murray Hunter

Has communications and digital minister Fahmi Fadzil gone rogue? Over the last few months Fahmi appears to have been acting rogue, shutting down those who criticize him.

Open threats

Last month, during a TikTok session Fahmi overwhelmed by criticism in the comments section, said police action would be taken against those who criticized him, or the government. Fahmi admitted publicly the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) was monitoring all media for criticism of the government.

“Don’t get upset with me if there is a call or a radio car outside of your house. We are monitoring, behave yourself” – Fahmi Fadzil

Clandestine internet blockages

Fahmi appears to be making good on his threats by blocking a number of news portals and blogs. The Malaysia NowMalaysia Today, and Wee Choo Keong blog, which carry critical news about the government were all blocked without notice during the months at spontaneous times.

When questioned, aides of Fahmi denied the MCMC had blocked the sites, even though forensic evidence indicated otherwise.

There has not been censorship of political and commentary sites on the web since the days of Najib Razak, when he blocked sites critical of him over the 1MDB scandal back in 2014-15.

Abuse of power

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) claimed in a recent press statement that Fahmi had abused his power as a minister by ordering reports to be lodged with the MCMC under his own purview to investigate those accusing him of disseminating political misinformation. A poster accusing Fahmi of instructing government friendly parties to blame PAS for the recent cancellation of the Good Vibes Festival concert recently.

Fahmi denies these allegations.

Fahmi makes up government policy as he goes along – How will Starlink benefit Malaysians?

The MCMC just granted a 10 year license to a foreign company to become an internet service provider for Starlink, ignoring the 30 percent Bumiputera equity requirement to provide satellite broadband services. This is following prime minister Anwar Ibrahim’s 25 minute video call with Elon Musk. The company is fully owned by Amsterdam based Starlink Holdings Netherlands, even though there is a 49 percent cap on foreign equity for NFP and NSP licenses. This exemption was granted by the MCMC on the basis of the value and benefits provided by Stalink.

However, there are a number of outage issues with Starlink, and supplying broadband to 40 schools, as Anwar requested are already in areas where existing NSP have sufficient capacity to supply more reliable services at cheaper rates.

The Starlink deal may have helped remote places in Sarawak and Sabah. Why wasn’t this thought of? Why was part of the NFP and NSP market given over to a foreign company, when local companies are already servicing the nation adequately?

Instead of lowering the costs of broadband for Malaysians, the Starlink option is being offered at RM220 per month, with and upfront ground unit required, costing RM11,500, only increases option costs.

Starlink gives no incentive for local NSPs to become more competitive.

Starlink is now competing against Malaysia’s MEAST system, which is already operating. Only last year, MEAST invested RM1.2 billion into satellite broadband, and now has a foreign competitor, thanks to Fahmi.

How is this benefitting Malaysians?