Despite protests, Rais says Evidence Act amendment to stay
UPDATED @ 03:42:24 PM 16-08-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — No change will be made to a protested amendment to the Evidence Act despite an online campaign and calls for its repeal from lawmakers on both sides of the divide, The Star reported Datuk Seri Rais Yatim as saying today.
The amendment, Section 114A of the Evidence Act, introduces a presumption of publication of online content on the publisher or registered owner of a network, and in essence shifts the burden of proof onto the accused.
According to the newspaper, the information minister revealed that the decision was made by the Cabinet following its meeting yesterday.
Rais added that the Cabinet decided to maintain the status quo after considering that parliamentarians had debated the matter prior to the law being passed.
“Once it (the amendment) is officially passed, to do something now is an afterthought,” he was quoted as saying in the report.
The minister then said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz would expand on yesterday’s decision later.
On Tuesday, a campaign organised by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and supported by the Bar Council called “Internet Blackout Day” saw several local websites go dark to protest the controversial amendment.
Prior to that, Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin had also broken ranks with the ruling administration and added their voices to existing opposition calls for the law to be repealed.
Following the campaign that was also joined by bloggers such as Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, Hishamuddin Rais (Tukar Tiub), Uppercaise, Nat Tan, Niki Cheong, Anil Netto, Juana Jaafar, Sarawak Bloggers, Fahmi Fadzil and myasylum — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said via microblogging service Twitter that the law would be reviewed by the Cabinet.
“I have asked Cabinet to discuss Section 114A of the Evidence Act 1950. Whatever we do we must put people first,” Najib wrote.
The new law was passed by the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara in April this year and was gazetted on July 31 by de facto law minister Nazri.