ACCESS to popular blogging platform Medium has been blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), apparently due to its links with Sarawak Report, an online news portal which has been covering allegations of corruption against the country’s Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Sarawak Report, owned by British journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown, has been banned in Malaysia since July last year, after which they have continued to reach the Malaysian public by posting their articles on Medium.
According to Medium, they received an email from the MCMC on Jan. 20 requesting the removal of a recent story posted by Sarawak Report, entitled “Najib negotiates his exit BUT he wants safe passage AND all the money!”
The MCMC claimed that the article was “false, unsubstantiated, misleading, and in violation of the country’s Communications and Multimedia Act 1998”.
It also stated: “The request to remove the abovementioned article is made in order to prevent the circulation of false, unsubstantiated and misleading content that affect Malaysia’s social stability, tarnish confidence in Malaysia’s economy, as well as undermine a democratically elected Prime Minister and Government.”
Medium responded to the request on Jan. 21, asking the MCMC for proof that the article was untrue:
It has yet to receive a response from the MCMC, but regular readers of the website have reported difficulties in accessing it since last Friday.
Though no official explanation for the restriction has been made, Medium has said it was blocked by some Malaysian internet service providers (ISPs) due to its refusal to take down the article.
In a statement posted on the website explaining the situation, it said:
Medium’s in no position to evaluate the truth of the Sarawak Report’s Medium post. We’ve received no evidence that the post violates any of our Rules, or any law. We stand by investigative journalists who publish on Medium. Until we receive an order from a court of competent jurisdiction, the post stays up.
Meanwhile, social media users have been sharing messages criticizing the move by the MCMC and showing their support of Medium for taking a stand.
— Simply Blatant (@simplyblatant) January 27, 2016
— Aurelie Valtat (@avaltat) January 27, 2016
— Lilian Lau (@lilianlau) January 27, 2016
Sarawak Report has been the main whistleblower for news involving the troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and its links to Najib.
On Tuesday, Malaysia’s attorney general cleared Najib of corruption allegations following a probe into the US$681 million transferred into the prime minister’s personal bank account. The money was ruled as a gift from the royal family in Saudi Arabia, with no criminal offenses or corruption involved.