- Net censorship: BBC story on #kangkung fiasco blocked?
- Ex-cop Jude Pereira not allowed to practise law
- Appeals Court upholds defamation ruling against Utusan
Posted: 15 Jan 2014 06:59 PM PST
NETIZENS in Malaysia are having difficulty accessing a BBC story on Prime Minister Najib Razak (pic) being derided online for a comment on rising prices, raising fears that the Internet was being censored in the country.
This goes against the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC Malaysia) charter, in which the Malaysian Government guarantees the Internet would not be censored, barring special circumstances.
The BBC article, entitled #BBCtrending: Be careful what you say about spinach, chronicles the recent uproar over a statement made by Najib that the price of kangkung (or Chinese water spinach) has gone down. In a video that has gone viral, he lamented the fact that the Government has not been praised for this, but is being criticised for the rising cost of living.
His statement has been attacked by Opposition leaders and civil advocates for being insensitive to the plight of average Malaysians, who this year face a slew of price hikes and subsidy reductions.
Internet users in Malaysia reported difficulty accessing the specific BBC post beginning late last night (Jan 15), with timeouts occurring after a long wait for the page to load, while the rest of the BBC site remained accessible.
Consumer technology website Lowyat.NET also reported difficulty accessing the page, "even after changing the DNS setup from TM's to Google DNS," with 'TM' referring to Telekom Malaysia, which owns TMnet, the country's largest Internet service provider (ISP).
As reported by The Malaysian Insider, the kangkung statement sparked much derision by the Malaysian public, with many netizens airing their frustrations and displeasure on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Responding to queries by Digital News Asia (DNA), security expert and freelance IT solutions provider @sniiffit said that in a nutshell, what was being done is that all packets requesting the specific page were being dropped at the ISP level.
"This effectively doesn’t allow the page to load at all," he said.
Asked whether it could be a case of Malaysian ISPs being hacked or compromised, or whether it was a case of traffic overload on BBC's servers, @sniiffit said it was neither.
"BBC or any large portal uses a CDN (content delivery network) which handles page requests to its servers – if the servers are being overloaded, the main site bbc.co.uk would have been inaccessible.
"If it was hacked, the whole domain would have been inaccessible. This blocking of a specific URL would have only been possible by filtering the packets and manipulating the network traffic," he said.
This block will mostly affect those who are tied to the TMnet service or Telekom Malaysia's network, and users accessing the page via their mobile may or may not be affected, @sniiffit added.
According to Khairil Yusof, cofounder of Sinar Project, a non-profit organisation which uses open source technology and ideas to track and measure corruption, this is a similar filtering technique with the one deployed during Malaysia's 13th General Election (GE13) in May last year.
"According to our tests, it's the same type of filtering as done during GE13. It is not new and this confirms the Government still has these filters in place and is willing to use it," he said in response to queries made by DNA via Twitter.
The censorship test conducted by Sinar Project yielded the following:
## Test 1: Check DNS, and IP block: Testing Same IP, different Virtual Host
HTTP/1.1 404 Not Found
## Test 2: Emulating a real web browser: Testing Same IP, actual Virtual Host, single packet
Timeout — waited 5 seconds
## Test 3: Attempting to fragment: Testing Same IP, actual Virtual Host, fragmented packet
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
This filtering would be a violation of the Multimedia Super Corridor Malaysia Bill of Guarantees, which specifically states that the Government would "ensure no Internet censorship."
In the case of the BBC article, lawyer and DNA columnist Foong Cheng Leong raised a question regarding the legal grounds for blocking the BBC article.
"Section 263(2) of The Communications and Multimedia Act CMA 1998 only allows blocking of a site if it is reasonably necessary in preventing the commission or attempted commission of an offence," he noted on Twitter.
The BBC article, while written in a slightly cheeky vein, only recounted facts however, and could not be construed as having committed any offence under Malaysian laws.
This is not the first time that attempts to restrict access to certain content online has been recorded and reported.
During the GE13, DNA reported that there was mounting evidence that certain ISPs may be throttling access to both alternative news portals and Opposition content on the Internet.
In a post published on Google Plus in May 2013, Sinar Project reported strong suspicions that some sort of basic content filtering to censor online media in Malaysia was taking place.
"Many people have reported difficulties with viewing the following video interviews linked from (independent news portal) Malaysiakini’s interview article" conducted with the widow of private investigator Balasubramaniam, popularly known as 'PI Bala.'
PI Bala was a crown witness in a trial over the controversial 2006 murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu. He himself died of a heart attack in March 2013, at the age of 53.
The Altantuya trial saw two special forces police officers being found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, although they were both acquitted by the Court of Appeal in August, 2013.
In the original trial, a third accused, Abdul Razak Baginda, a close family friend of Najib, then Deputy Prime Minister, was acquitted without his defence being called.
Sinar Project had conducted its investigation into possible Internet filtering on multiple networks based on the ID/URL of these videos served from Google’s +YouTube cached servers located in on TMnet's network.
"We strongly condemn the actions of TMnet and parties involved in censoring access to free media in Malaysia," its report said.
When asked for his opinion on the incident, @sniiffit said "trying to censor the Internet is a really bad idea," in addition to the fact that the United Nations also condemns the filtering of content as "it is a human rights violation and against international law."
Readers who want to read the BBC article in question can do so at the blog of Opposition politician Lim Kit Siang, who has reposted it in its entirety here.
Posted: 15 Jan 2014 01:54 AM PST
The Kuala Lumpur High Court has allowed the Bar Council’s objection against admitting former police officer Jude Blacious Pereira as an advocate and solicitor.
He was the main police investigator in the Sodomy II trial against Anwar Ibrahim, who was later acquitted.
Pereira had applied to practise in Ipoh where he had completed his chambering after retiring from the police force with the rank of superintendent.
Lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar ( left ) and Pavendeep Singh said the Bar Council objected to his petition because he was found “not to be a credible witness” during a human rights hearing in a case involving the arrest of five lawyers in Kuala Lumpur who were assisting those arrested during a candlelight vigil.
The Suhakam inquiry that found Pereira not a credible witness was chaired by then commissioner Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.
The human rights case involved the Brickfields police arresting the five lawyers – Puspawati Rosman, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, Murnie Hidayah Anuar, Ravinder Singh Dhalliwal and Syuhaini Safwan ? for allegedly failing to disperse following a directive issued by then district police chief Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid.
The Suhakam inquiry found that the police had acted mala fide and that Wan Bari and Pereira clearly violated human rights.
Justice Zaleha Yusof agreed with the Bar Council that Pereira is “not a fit and proper person to be admitted as a lawyer to practice in the High Court of Malaya”.
“The court also makes consequential order for Pereira’s petition (for admission) to be struck out,” she said.
Pereira or his lawyer were not present to listen to the judgment as the order was made before Justice Zaleha in chambers.
Bar has right to object
Commenting on the matter, Malik said the Bar Council has the right and is duty-bound to object to anyone from gaining admission to practice as lawyers.
“The court’s duty in situations like these is to ensure that the admission of the petitioner’s concern would not have an adverse impact on the profession and community.
“The Suhakam inquiry panel concluded that Pereira was not a credible witness.
“Any court in Malaysia, Australia or New Zealand hold that a lawyer must have high standards of honesty and integrity,” he added.
Pereira had filed his petition for admission on July 23, 2012 and was short-called under Sections 36(2) (a) and (b) of the Legal Profession Act 1976.
However, he failed in the Ethics and Professional Standards course examination organised by the Bar Council on March 13 and 14 last year.
The Bar Council informed Pereira that it would be objecting his admission as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court of Malaya on the ground that he was not fit for admission to the Bar.
Under Section 11 (1) of the LPA, a qualified person must be of good character but the Bar Council said Pereira being the second highest ranking police officer on duty at Brickfields was involved in the arrest of the five and cited the Suhakam inquiry report.
“We find the evidence of Pereira totally unsatisfactory. He was either consciously not telling the truth or suffered from a serious bout of loss of memory,” the inquiry stated in its
The Bar Council had held an extraordinary general meeting to condemn the arrest of the five lawyers in May 2009.
Posted: 15 Jan 2014 01:44 AM PST
PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court decision which had ruled earlier that two articles published by Utusan Malaysia (M) Sdn Bhd were defamatory and related to opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's interview with BBC on homosexual laws, two years ago.
A three-member panel headed by justice Zaharah Ibrahim ruled that there was no merit in the appellant's appeal after perusing the ground of judgement and note of the proceedings of the High Court.
The court also dismissed the application by UMNO to intervene in the appeal. However, no cost was ordered.
The other two panel members were justice Mah Weng Kwai and K. Anantham.
Later, counsel Abu Bakar As-Sidek told reporters that UMNO made the application over the issue whether the party had influence over editorial policy of the daily.
The High Court last year ruled that the defendants Utusan Melayu (Malaysia) Bhd and its chief editor, Datuk Abdul Aziz Ishak, failed to establish all the statutory defenses, namely justification, fair comment and qualified privilege.
On Jan 10 2012, Anwar filed a defamation suit seeking RM50mil in damages alleging the defendants had published the two articles in the Utusan Malaysia newspaper, on Jan 17, 2012, in relation to his BBC interview.
He had contended that the words implied he was unfit to hold public office and a Muslim leader who held views inconsistent with the teachings of Islam.
During today's appeal, Anwar was represented by lawyer R. Sivarasa, while Firuz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin appeared for Utusan.
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