There are great concerns for the future of freedom of expression in Malaysia, where the government has blocked access to the popular news website Sarawak Report.
According to Channel News Asia, the site became unaccessible from Malaysia following a series of publications highly critical of the Malaysian Government. The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) verified that it had blocked access to the news website, claiming that “Sarawak Report posed a threat to national stability, publishing allegedly unverified information that were still under investigation”.
On July 30, Sarawak Report published an exclusive story about the reasons leading to the dismissal of the Malaysian Attorney General, Abdul Gani Patail. According to the documents revealed by the news website, funds were allegedly transferred from a state investment fund to the Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak’s personal bank account. According to Sarawak Report, the Attorney General was about to press charges for corruption against the Prime Minister when he was suspiciously fired. In light of this revelation, the surprising dismissal of the Attorney General is raising questions.
This publication is one of a series of news articles published by Sarawak Report in recent months, revealing massive corruption allegations against Najib. The Prime Minister denied all allegations against him. Two weeks after the initial publication, the Malaysian government blocked access to Sarawak Report.
MCMC verified that it had blocked the news website, saying it was merely a temporary measure which will be removed once the investigation is complete. However, local news outlets are unsatisfied with this declaration. A few news outlets highlighted the danger to freedom of expression in Malaysia, while revealing the legal threats delivered by Razak to any news outlet daring to publish claims of corruption against him.
As Sarawak Report is still accessible outside of Malaysia, it is reported that many local Malaysians refuse to surrender to the governmental censorship and are sharing among themselves ways to get round the blocking.