Politics Technology

9 sites the Malaysian gomen blocked in 2015 (that weren’t porn!)

MAKLUMAN: This article was updated Feb 25th 2016 to include The Malaysian Insider


 

We understand that the internet can be a pretty dangerous place. Everywhere you go, the three P’s are just lurking around the corner, waiting to chip away at your Malaysian sense of decency and morality. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the three P’s are Piracy, Porn, and Politics.

We just made that up.

It’s not something we’ve pulled out of thin air though, since the Malaysian Multimedia and Communications Commission (MCMC) has been actively blocking websites that “contained either pornography or malicious content or infringed copyrights” since 2008. In fact, they might have stepped up their game since they’ve blocked 1,263 websites in the first nine months of 2015 alone.

Screenshot 2014-12-18 15.52.22

Screencapped off Pornhub. For uhm… research.

Most of these sites are (surprise surprise!) porn – 1,074 to be exact. But recently, it appears that politics are generating more jerks than porn, since several political and news sites have been hit with the dreaded “MAKLUMAN” banner.

Of course, there are several ways to *cough* get around the block so you can check these sites out for yourself. These methods can also be used to access the other 1,074 blocked sites. Just sayin’ *cough*

But back to the topic, why did the 8 non-porn sites below kena block? What have they done to get the censor ship sailing into their digital ocean? Well, let’s hop on and find out!

CENSOR SHIP

 

1. The Malaysian Insider receives the worst birthday present ever – Updated Feb 25th

Insider dilarang

TL;DR Reason for kena block: For getting old? (We dunno)

Well, today (Feb 25th) marks the 8th year that online news portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI) has been around, but celebrations were unfortunately cut short with an MCMC block to the site.

However the block only seems to affect users on certain providers, most notably Celcom and TM. When we checked it out on our phones, TMI is still accessible on Maxis, Digi, and uMobile. 

TMI pepe

There has been no reason for the block so far, and it seems that TMI were given no reason or warning:

“This is an unpleasant surprise. I’ve tried to contact the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) but the officers are in a meeting – Jahabar Sadiq, TMI Editor and Chief Executive. as quoted by The Malaysian Insider.

While we’re still unsure of the actual reason, it might be worth noting that TMI was previously in trouble for a report on Hudud which resulted in three of their editors being arrested and investigated under the Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act. Here’s a link to that story from the Star if you can’t access The Malaysian Insider.

In the meantime, a text message from MCMC enforcement chief Zulkarnain Mohd Yasin confirmed the block, and said that they “will issue a statement”.

At least for the time being, you can still access the site through a backup at The Malaysian Outsider. No, serious. #genius

 

2. The block that started it all…

SR-Larang

Click to link!

TL;DR Reason for kena block: Publishing false documents that would destabilize the country (Official reason)

Most of us would be familiar with the block on Sarawak Report, since that was arguably the first and most high-profile of the lot. The site kena for “disrupting national stability with its coverage and alleged leaks of damaging 1MDB documents and remains inaccessible to this day. Unless you know how to bypass the block, that is. 

50350763

*cough*

In any case, Sarawak Report and it’s signal sibling Radio Free Sarawak started out by pointing out many problems involving Sarawak’s then-Chief Minister Taib Mahmud. They eventually moved their focus to PM Najib and 1MDB, publishing many allegedly leaked documents (or forged depending on who you ask).

One of the ways they tried to get around the block was to publish their articles on Medium.com, which leads us to…

 

3. The site that got blocked for publishing a site that got blocked  😕

medium larang

Click to link!

TL;DR Reason for kena block: For not taking down a Sarawak Report article (Official reason)

Medium is an international community of writers presenting articles that range from short stories to investigative journalism. In order to bypass the block on their site, Sarawak Report took to publishing their articles on Medium – which resulted in them being blocked as well.

0-SEbYk3b71mEtFR4U

Partial screencap of MCMCs email to Medium from Engadget. Click to view.

Apparently, the MCMC issued Medium a takedown notice for one of Sarawak Report’s articles for violating Malaysian law. Medium instead asked for evidence that the law had been broken, and for a statement from the MACC that the allegations within the article was not true. This was when the MCMC presumably went “malas nak reply la” and blocked the site.

As an additional bit of trivia, Medium didn’t get the “MAKLUMAN” treatment but multiple attempts to access the site results in a connection error as shown in the screenshot below. This would most likely be due to a different method used to block access to the site, since our unblocked connections access it just fine. You can check out our article on site blocking here.

Screenshot_2016-02-09-00-17-51

Considering that Medium is also used as a platform for many emerging Malaysian writers, the block created a few campaigns on social media, notably with this site providing a timeline of events before and after the block. Also, Medium wasn’t the only site to kena because of Sarawak Report, since there’s…

 

4. This is the last Sarawak Report-related one. Promise.

Sentinel larang

Click to link!

TL;DR Reason for kena block: For publishing a Sarawak Report article (According to Asia Sentinel)

Asia Sentinel is an independent Hong Kong-based news agency that, according to its website “was created to provide a platform for news, analysis and opinion on national and regional issues in Asia.”

While Asia Sentinel has published numerous articles about our political climate (some of which were used as references in our articles), the site’s editor believed that the block came after the site published an article based off a Sarawak Report…um…report.

Malaysian PM Najib On Way Out Report Says Asia Sentinel Asia Sentinel

This article. Click to link!

It’s also noted that Asia Sentinel were not informed or given a reason for the block, and that they only found out after being informed by readers.

If anything, the site has since increased its coverage of PM Najib, as evidenced by their Facebook page cover:

Screenshot 2016-02-09 15.16.05

Screencapped from Asia Sentinels Facebook page.

Or in their own words:

“We will continue to report on what is obviously deep, deep corruption on the part of not only the prime minister but the party he represents.” – John Berthelsen, Asia Sentinel Editor, as quoted by The Malaysian Insider.

 

5. GOT BLOCKED FOR REPORTING THE TRUTH????! Malaysia Chronicle.

MChronicle dilarang

Click to link!

TL;DR Reason for kena block: Caps lock? Nah, ini dia Caps Block! (We dunno)

Back in October, local news aggregator (kinda like a content collector) and serial caps lock addict Malaysia Chronicle found itself capped just slightly ahead of PM Najib’s Budget 2016 speech. The block was confirmed by one of Malaysia Chronicles’ editors but, again, there was no response from the MCMC when asked about it by both Malaysia Chronicle and The Malaysian Insider.

NAH, BACA:
Here's why sharing fake coronavirus news in Malaysia may be as bad as terrorism

So again, we don’t know what the reason for the block is, but if we were to take a guess….

Home

Screencapped from Malaysia Chronicle’s website.

The site’s still blocked at the time of writing, but visitors to their Facebook page will be greeted with instructions to how to bypass the block in full capslock-y glory:

Screenshot 2016-02-09 16.02.50

Screencapped from Malaysia Chronicle’s Facebook page.

OR MAYBE someone in gomen loves CILISOS and did it cos MalaysiaChronicle copied some of our articles shamelessly, including our guide to unblock Sarawak Report (No, really… LAST SARAWAK REPORT MENTION!).

Heehee #wishfulthinking.

 

6. The photo blog that got blocked in a….. snap?

Jinggo larang

Click to link!

TL;DR Reason for kena block: Uh… for making Ahmad Maslan look fat? (We dunno)

As you might be able to tell from the word “Fotopages”, Jinggo-Fotopages is a photoblog specializing in Malaysian political events. Run by independent photographer Minaq Jinggo, the site covers everything from UMNO events…

TPM, Zahid Hamidi -MJ1_8808

Image from Jinggo-fotopages.

to PKR events…

Pakatan Harapan -IMG_0352

Image from Jinggo-fotopages.

to pictures at the zoo.

Zoo Negara Malaysia -MJ4_3537

Image from Jinggo-fotopages.

Each post contains a brief description of the event, as well as a simple caption (if any) describing the picture. As far as we can tell, the posts are as neutral as you can get, so unless someone took offense to an unflattering photo we really don’t know why it’s blocked.

We’ve tried to contact Minaq Jinggo, but have yet to receive a reply.

 

7. The Tabung Haji Insider that got blocked for leaking documents inside der Tabung.

tabung larang

Click to link!

TL;DR Reason for kena block: For publishing Bank Negara’s warning to Tabung Haji (Most likely)

Tabung Insider came out of nowhere in late January and leaked a letter from Bank Negara warning Tabung Haji that their accounts were in the red (as in losing money, not CNY Ong) which is a pretty big deal for the 8.8 million Malaysians depending on the fund for returns on their investment and help in performing the Haj.

zunar

The alleged story of what happened. Image by Zunar via Malaysiakini.

The site also contains no contact information… But this is probably a good idea since the people running the site are supposedly Tabung Haji employees who were disillusioned with the way the Tabung was being forced by politicians to engage in practices that were no longer Halal – probably in reference to Tabung Haji’s purchase of land from 1MDB that many saw as a bailout:

“Kami warga TH amat kesal dengan campur tangan ahli politik dalam pentadbiran … Hancur hati kami apabila terpaksa membayar asset-aset tersebut dengan duit umat islam yang hendak ke Tanah Suci menunaikan ibadat haji. Kami tidak lagi amanah. Kami dipaksa menipu.” – From Tabung Insider.

 

8. The site that got blocked for being a Mahathir fan.

turtle larang

Click to link!

TL;DR Reason for kena block: For criticizing the Najib administration(Most likely)

Din Turtle is a popular Malay blogger who’s known as a unrelenting critic of PM Najib and a noted penyu peng you (friend) of Dr. Mahathir as noted by Malaysiakini. Yes, we forced that penyu joke in #dealwitit

While we didn’t get a response from their Facebook page, a quick read of their articles didn’t give us any reason to disagree with Malaysiakini’s description of the site. However, Din Turtle did issue a statement about the block:

“Dari semalam blog ini telah dihalang akses dan saya menunggu 24 jam sebelum komen bagi memastikan perkara ini bukan satu salah faham. – From Din Turtle.

And like most of the entries before this, there was no reason given for the block, though Din Turtle kinda alluded to a possible reason:

“Saya juga tidak percaya yang negara ini diperintah oleh secara diktator …. tidak dapat menrima kritikan dan hanya tahu menutup mulut pengkritik hanya kerana tidak mampu untuk menjawap persoalan2 yang ditimbulkan.” From Din Turtle.

 

9. The site that got blocked for.. being.. too.. badass?

Syed larang

Click to link!

TL;DR Reason for kena block: Most likely for criticizing the gomen? (We dunno)

Syed Akhbar Ali is a popular blogger, political commenter, author, and other -ers too numerous to list here. But the latest -er that he’s added to his list was

Er… Why did I get blocked?”

On January 28th, Syed posted on his Facebook page stating that his site was blocked:

Screenshot 2016-02-05 12.06.28 copy

Screencapped from OutSyed The Box’s Facebook page.

As far as we can tell, his site is back up with a limited number of posts, but this is also blocked.

We got in touch with Syed to find out what happened, and if he received any warnings that his site was about to be blocked by the MCMC. What he said was:

No I was not [given any reasons or advance warning]. I don’t know who has actually blocked my site. It could be the CIA, Mossad or maybe the Bangladesh Secret Service. There is a theory that I blocked my own site to get free publicity. – Syed Akhbar Ali, in email interview with CILISOS.

Until the MCMC releases a statement or a reply to our inquiry, we don’t know what the official reason might be, though if we were to hazard a guess it would probably be because many of Syed’s political articles aren’t very….um…flattering towards the current ruling government.

We also asked Syed what his next course of action would be – like would he make an appeal to the MCMC, fight the power, or something badass like that? His response was too badass for us to handle:

I am going to have breakfast” – Syed Akhbar Ali, in email interview with CILISOS.

badass cat

 

Are we heading towards the “Great Firewall of Malaysia”?

Firewall

Unedited image from China Daily Mail.

The Great Firewall of China” is a tongue-in-cheek reference to how the Chinese government excessively enforces internet censorship. And, the way things are going, it looks like Malaysia is leaning towards that direction as well. It’s even been noted in a direct comparison of the block on Medium:

“Even China, notorious for its tight control over what its citizens see, does not block [Medium].” – Quoted from Engadget

And also when a BN MP asked the MCMC if there were plans to restrict social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp and replace them with local versions as done in China. 

But don’t get us wrong though… the issue of freedom on the internet has been debated long before our Inspector-General of Police (IGP) took it upon himself to monitor Twitter traffic, and it’s been both used and abused in equal measure. Sure, the MCMC blocks would be useful in preventing children from accessing pornographic websites, or worse, appearing on them; but when it comes to expression and information, the lines get a little more blurry. Should we restrict access to certain sites that may potentially carry false or misleading information? 

And if so, the next question then is, WHO should decide what’s “real” and what’s not?

You?

Or the government?

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