MALAYSIA: Umno files report against webmaster
Opposition leader says that the government should not abuse the law to intimidate bloggers
The Straits Times
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
By Chow Kum Hor
A Senior Umno leader has lodged a police report against the webmaster of a popular political website just days after police nabbed a blogger who works for an opposition party.
Umno information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib, who lodged the report yesterday, said a July 11 entry in the Malaysia Today website allegedly incited racial hatred and insulted the Malaysian king.
There were also alleged comments left by surfers in the three-year-old website that could affect racial harmony and national security, he was quoted as saying by Bernama.
"I think they are very irresponsible," Tan Sri Muhammad, the fourth most senior leader in Umno, told reporters.
A police report lodged by a prominent person usually marks an impending crackdown over the issue being complained about, so the Umno move sent chills through cyberspace yesterday.
The website is run by Mr Raja Petra Kamarudin, a former staunch supporter of opposition figure Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
His purported inside information about the dark goings-on in the Abdullah administration and Umno is a hit among surfers.
The website also runs articles written by Mr Raja Petra or culled from bloggers and newspapers which debated Islam's role and Malay rights.
Mr Raja Petra said yesterday he had no idea which article about the king made Umno leaders upset.
"I am also not against Islam. I am just against the conduct of some Muslims," he told The Straits Times, saying he believes the government wants to shut down his site and arrest him.
The news followed the July 13 arrest of opposition webmaster Nathaniel Tan for possible breach of the Official Secrets Act.
The supposed leak was over comments left by surfers on Mr Tan's blog about graft claims against a deputy minister. He was released after four days with no charges filed by police.
Throughout the late afternoon and into the evening yesterday, access to Malaysia Today was virtually impossible.
Mr Raja Petra claimed an average of two million hits a day, but said he expected the number to hit three million yesterday.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said it was up to the police to probe if the webmaster had flouted any law.
"There is no special decision to go after bloggers. There are laws in the country," he told reporters.
Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, in his own blog, wrote that the government should not abuse laws to intimidate anyone.
"After Raja Petra, who is next?" Mr Lim asked.
Date Posted: 7/24/2007