KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak today warned of the effects of unregulated Internet use, and said unfettered access to negative influences would decimate Asian values and heritage.
His comments are expected to renew fears that the government may still renege on its pledge to not censor the Internet as part of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), after it was reported that the Information Ministry had previously evaluated the possibility of a blocking out “undesirable websites”.
Political foes had then attacked the proposal as an attempt by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government to quash online political dissent.
Following public outcry, the Cabinet later abandoned the proposal, which was subsequently described as only a feasibility study.
Today, the prime minister stressed that cyberspace must be managed to protect Asian society from exposure to “negative influences.”
He said that governments must formulate a code of ethics for Internet use to ensure that is remains “governable”.
“Indecency and anarchy can seep in into any environment that is not anchored on any cultural roots and our values.
“Our culture and our heritage are what make us unique and it is important that we educate our peoples never to abandon what makes them uniquely Asian,” he said during his keynote address at the tenth Asean Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting.
He said that that Asian values must not be compromised in the name of development.
“Our children and future generations of Asean should retain their Asian cultural values and they must be protected from the threats on the Internet,” he said.
He added that the public must be educated on how to use the Internet in a responsible manner.
Aside from the controversial Net filter — said to be in the vein of the “Great Firewall of China” — the ruling administration has also called for a registry of bloggers, many of whom are said to be anti-establishment.
This story has been edited to correct inaccuracies. In the first paragraph it was erroneously stated that the prime minister referred to unfettered access to Western culture. What he actually referred to was unfettered access to negative influences. We apologise for the mistake and any inconvenience caused to the prime minister.