Evidence Act amendment stays, says Nazri
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 ― A controversial amendment to the Evidence Act that threatens freedom of expression on the Internet will not be amended, de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said today.
Dismissing the need for any review, Nazri said the law was tabled to protect the public.
The amendment came under heavy fire from the public soon after it was passed, with the Bar Council calling for a repeal of the law that makes even coffee shops offering free Wi-Fi services liable for any defamatory or criminal acts of customers using computers at their premises.
The Bar Council said that while it recognised that people could exploit a false persona to incite racial hatred, organise violent hate crimes and commit fraud, the recently introduced Section 114A of the Evidence Act of 1950, which came into force on July 31, was not the answer to these problems.
The new law creates a presumption that any registered user of network services is presumed to be the publisher of a publication sent from a computer linked to that network service, unless the contrary is proved.
The Section also provides that any “person whose name, photograph or pseudonym appears on any publication depicting himself as the owner, host, administrator, editor or sub-editor, or who in any manner facilitates to publish or re-publish the publication is presumed to have published or re-published the contents of the publication unless the contrary is proved.”
But Nazri defended the amendment today despite protests from Barisan Nasional (BN) colleagues and lawmakers from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
“I would have hesitated to table the Bill in Parliament in April if for once I thought that the amendment would not serve the security of the country.
“We have the concern of the rakyat... don’t make us look as if we got no concern,” he told reporters in Kuala Kangsar today.
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