Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Internet users should not abuse online freedom, says Salleh

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak said today Internet users must know how to differentiate truths, half-truths, innuendoes, and lies being spread online. He said this was because the Internet was a "shared property" owned collectively by all global citizens and that everyone has a responsibility not to misuse it. "In this day and age, especially in the era of the borderless world due to the Internet, freedom of speech and the expressing of one's opinion is almost taken for granted," he said in his latest blog post. He said users sometimes forgot that freedom of speech must be treated as a privilege and not as an absolute right. "There is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech. Even in the West, where the limits of freedom have been pushed beyond what we in the East can accept and consider as acceptable, they still do have laws that regulate matters concerning slander, defamation, degrading, racism, sexism, and so on." The advice come amid the latest report by The Wall Street Journal alleging that more than US$1 billion was deposited into Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's bank accounts – millions more than was previously identified. In response to the claim, Putrajaya said the US-based business paper has become a willing vehicle for certain political actors seeking to damage Najib's reputation. It also said WSJ was "repeating the same old allegations without providing evidence" and "relying solely on anonymous sources that might not even exist" while choosing to omit key known facts. Salleh said while it was accepted that discourse, exchanging of ideas and opinions were the foundation of advancement and learning, all that needed to be conducted in a constructive, civil, and mature manner, and with decorum and decency. "Running someone down or the hurling of insults would be the opposite to all this. You would be considered uncouth to not observe proper rules of engagement." The minister said the problem arose when people hid behind freedom of speech and pretended to be seeking discussion and debate. He said politics was all about perception and the war of perception to win the hearts and minds of the people intensified as political disagreements escalated. "And this is when we adopt the Machiavellian doctrine of the end justifying the means by embarking on a campaign of lies and misinformation. "We cannot claim the moral high ground and say that our cause is virtuous when we are neither noble or virtuous in our methods." Since the Internet was community owned, he said, everyone needed to be considerate to other users when doing things. – March 3, 2016.]]>

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