Internet censorship is useless in today’s evironment – Taib Mahmud

Pehin Sri Taib delivering his speech during the Sarawak Social Media Convention 2012

The Net not a threat

By YU JI
yuji@thestar.com.my

KUCHING: Censorship is useless in today’s environment, says Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Speaking at a gathering of social media enthusiasts here, Taib said transparency was now key to political survival, and praised the Barisan Nasional administration for “tearing down the ISA”.

The Chief Minister also commended the amendments to laws governing the media.

“Old fashioned censorship just doesn’t work anymore. The free flow of information (via the Internet) has given great power to the ordinary men on the street,” Taib said at the close of the Sarawak Social Media Convention 2012 yesterday.

Taib said criticisms online had to be accepted as a new form of feedback by those in power. He added that he first noted the change that would come with the Internet when companies based in the US started outsourcing jobs to the Indian economy.

“When we saw that happening, that was becoming possible, we knew the communication revolution was on its way. We expected a lot of things to change. I’m rather old fashioned. I studied in libraries, but if you look at developed countries right now, even at countrysides, the spread of the (Internet and its benefits) has been so fast.”

As far as the state government was concerned, Taib added, it would continue to make high-speed Internet available at more rural areas, particularly schools. Taib said the state government did not view the Internet as a threat.

If anything, Taib said Sarawak needed more social media savvy citizens.

“We are actually handicapped by a shortage. We need your (social media enthusiasts’) advice and support. Sure, the free flow of information has achieved some good, some not so good; societies have been disrupted.

“Yet, on the other hand, (because of the Internet) this generation is the best generation that is able to practise life-long learning. Books had their restrictions.”

Going back to the Government’s move to liberalise policies, the Chief Minister praised the Prime Minister for having an open and “agile” way of thinking. “He (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) might be the first Prime Minister to understand you (social media enthusiasts) better.”