Former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad again called for the country to impose censorship on the Internet in the country, claiming that social media allows the public to have “absolute power” in sharing their opinions.
Dr. Mahathir, who was delivering his keynote address at the Malaysian Social Media Week 2015 yesterday, said the public’s views on social media can now be spread around the world — a possibility which was once open exclusively to governments.
“But absolute power corrupts absolutely. We all have absolute power in communications now, will it corrupt us or not? Like with Charlie Hebdo. They’re a fun-loving French magazine… well, many of them are dead because they were not responsible (with their content),” he was quoted saying by The Malay Mail Online.
Islamist gunmen, who were angry with the animation depicting the Prophet Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo, killed 12 staff members of the magazine in January.
“We have to be very careful about using power. The pen today is much more powerful than the sword of the past, because it reaches the entire world. We are not yet mature enough to use this power,” Dr. Mahathir added.
In August last year, Dr. Mahathir had openly suggested on his personal blog, chedet.cc, that the country impose censorship on the Internet, claiming that “any kind of freedom will always be open to abuse”.
Speaking at the function yesterday, he again claimed that Internet freedom can be abused to access “filth” such as pornography or even learning how to build a bomb.
“Not to block out chedet.cc. Please don’t block that out. But to block out all this filth that comes to us through the Internet,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.
During his 22 years as the Malaysian prime minister, Dr. Mahathir had pledged to never censor the Internet in the country.
“When I was prime minister, I was advised not to censor the Internet. I thought it was reasonable and I agreed. But I now find that the freedom is not being used to create beautiful things as I had hoped. Now I have to swallow my words,” he was quoted saying by The Malay Mail Online.
The same article also stated that the policy of no Internet censorship was made an integral part of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC Malaysia) project, and that it is legally enforceable under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and MSC Malaysia’s Bill of Guarantees.