‘Stinks of despotism’, says group as Putrajaya mulls social media licensing in latest clampdown on online dissent

Rights lawyers say it is Pakatan Harapan’s ultimate betrayal of its reform promises after benefiting from social media’s freedom for so long.

(MalaysiaNow) – Rights lawyers have expressed shock at the government’s plan to impose licensing and regulate social media platforms, describing it the latest example of the Anwar Ibrahim government’s crackdown on political dissent.

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) reminded Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition that it owed its survival to the freedom granted to online news and social media platforms, but was “now planning severe restrictions on it”.

“This is the ultimate betrayal of its reform promises and a failure to uphold Constitutional rights,” said LFL director Zaid Malek.

He said the Anwar government was continuing the current trend of suppressing public discourse, adding that this was no different from “the time-honoured manner of authoritarian regimes”.

Zaid Malek.
Zaid Malek

“It is thus unsurprising that the government’s new plan to impose licensing and regulations of social media has set the alarm bells ringing. It stinks of despotism and self-interest. It draws comparisons with North Korea, Communist China and PAP-ruled Singapore.

As part of the plan, the government is reportedly proposing a kill switch that would allow content to be deleted immediately, as well as the introduction of a content code for platforms that also regulates political content.

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