A trend toward censorship and control

When it was first launched in 1996, Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) was designed to turn the country into an information and communications technologies (ICT) hub to attract world class technology companies. One of the most important frameworks was the MSC Bill of Guarantees (BoG), which among others assured that there would not be censorship of the internet. This became the backdrop against which alternative news sources and information flourished, particularly after the 1998 political reformasi movement, which also spurred digital activism and protests.[1] Over the years, the much-celebrated vision has become a threat to the government, as the use of the technologies for the purposes of civil and political rights has been met with restrictions and control. Although there were no systematic attempts to filter or block content in the past, the trend is quickly reversing to one where online censorship is a prominent feature.[2] The key issues in relation to governance in Malaysia is the crackdown on freedom of expression online, threats to users online and growing state surveillance.

Background to development of the ICT industry

Following the creation of the MSC in 1996, the government promoted ICT development, making it a key sector in the economic development and expansion plans since the five-year Seventh Malaysia Plan and the subsequent plans. Strategies in the current Eleventh Malaysia Plan for 2016-2020 emphasise re-energising of the ICT industry, developing high quality ICT talent, improving digital infrastructure and pursuing digital inclusion.[3] From early on, the government had set up agencies to facilitate the promotion of investments and activities for big and small companies, software development, as well as setting up community ICT centres.[4]

The internet service industry and the number of users have increased significantly over the years. From an internet penetration of just over 20% in 2000, the number has more than tripled to date. According to statistics compiled by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for the second quarter of 2015, Malaysia’s broadband penetration was 72.2% for households and 91.7% for individual users, while the figures surpass the population figures for access to the internet on mobile phones.[5] The report also shows the narrowing gap between men and women in terms of access to the internet through broadband and/or dial-up services in the private households.

Parallel to this has been the increased use of the internet for content creation and sharing, whether by companies, civil society organisations or individuals. The availability of platforms like blogging and social media networking has challenged the dominance of legacy media outlets that have long been known to support the ruling government in Malaysia. With its weak democratic and human rights practices, Malaysia’s internet landscape has come under threat particularly for those who using the platforms to further political and social expressions. Civil society has attempted to resist the pressures to limited success as the legislature is dominated by the ruling political party, the Barisan Nasional (BN). Businesses, on the other hand, have largely complied with the regulations and requirements of the government in the case of blocking content or providing information, as long as their operations are seen as not being affected.

Internet governance in Malaysia

The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC, or the local reference Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia, SKMM) is the main regulatory body responsible for telecommunications, broadcasting and the internet, reflecting the convergence of the industries. The MCMC is headed by a nine-member commission, which includes government representatives. Its chair is a former bureaucrat from the ministry. The MCMC comes under the purview of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia and derives its mandate from the MCMC Act as well as the Communications and Multimedia Act, both legislated in 1998, while others include the Strategic Trade Act 2010, Postal Services Act 1991 and the Digital Signature Act 1997. The legal framework in Malaysia has been recognised as one of the early ones to deal with the convergence in the industries. The primary functions of the MCMC are:

  • Advise the Minister of Communications and Multimedia on all matters concerning the national policy objectives for communications and multimedia activities;
  • Implement and enforce the provisions of the CMA;
  • Regulate all matters relating to communications and multimedia activities not provided for in the CMA;
  • Consider and recommend reforms to the CMA;
  • Supervise and monitor communications and multimedia activities;
  • Encourage and promote the development of the communications and multimedia industry;
  • Encourage and promote self-regulation in the industry;
  • Promote and maintain the integrity of all person licensed or otherwise authorised in the industry;
  • Render assistance in any form to, and to promote cooperation and coordination amongst persons engaged in communications and multimedia activities; and
  • Carry out any function under any written laws as may be prescribed by the minister by notification published in the ministerial gazette.

The body is not independent as it has government appointees in the commission, and gets is budget from the government. It has been criticised for complying with government instructions to shut down news websites or initiating criminal investigations over critical content online. Within the MCMC, there are two forums intended to act as self-regulatory mechanisms – the Content Forum and the Consumer Forum, and two others that are for the technical issues. The Content Forum has civil society participation but is generally weak when it comes to influencing decisions by the MCMC. The Content Forum on Malaysia is supposed to govern electronic content and address content-related issues, based on a voluntary Content Code. It is made up of six “Ordinary” member categories: Advertisers, Audiotext Hosting Service Providers, Broadcasters, Civic Groups, Content Creators/Distributors and Internet Access Service.

Another agency or body that CyberSecurity Malaysia (set up as the Malaysia Computer Emergency Response Team, MyCERT in 1997) is an agency, registered as a company, under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations. Cyber security is a major agenda for Malaysia, and it has embarked on cooperation with various governments and the ASEAN to promote exchange of knowledge and experience in detection, resolution and prevention of security related incidents. MyCERT receives reports and incidents of computer-related complaints.

The national level Internet Governance Forum was held for the first time in 2014 but it was largely a government initiative. At the international level, Malaysia has been less inclined towards multistakeholder approaches on internet governance, making it a challenge for local civil society to participate in decisions regarding policies and laws.

Legal environment for online freedom of expression

The Federal Constitution of Malaysia provides for guarantees of fundamental liberties such as freedom of speech but it also contains restrictions on grounds of protecting national security and public order, among others. Laws that regulate expression, the media and access to information are legacies of the colonial era. For example, the Penal Code, the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act were introduced during the British rule and based on English traditions and Indian laws, also a colony of the British. Laws that deal with technology, like the Internet, that address the issue of convergence and personal data protection are newer and have been considered exemplary in the region. Yet, they have weaknesses, and in the context of freedom of expression, been used to stifle, rather than promote or innovate, expression. The existing criminal laws are generally applied across the various platforms in what can be clearly seen as state repression of expression.

Constitutional guarantees to freedom of expression and right to privacy

The Federal Constitution of Malaysia guarantees citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression (Clause 1(a)), peaceful assembly (Clause 1(b)), and to association (Clause 1(c)) under Article 10, subject to restrictions. The guarantee does not explicitly state the exercise of the rights online or any form of media, which are spelt out in the specific laws related to the media and publications.

The restrictions to the rights to freedom of speech are provided in Clause 2(a) on the grounds of national security, “friendly relations with other countries, public order or morality and restrictions designed to protect the privileges of Parliament or of any Legislative Assembly or to provide against contempt of court, defamation, or incitement to any offence”. Clause 4 further states that Parliament can pass any laws prohibiting the questioning of any matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected related to the sovereignty of the Malay rulers, the status of the national language and rights of others to use their own language, and citizenship.

Article 5 of the Constitution, which provides for the right to personal liberty has been interpreted by the Federal Court in 2010, in the case of Sivarasa Rasiah v. Badan Peguam Malaysia & Anor, to also include the right to privacy.

This rest of the section looks at some of the laws that have been used to control and regulate online expression.

Communication and Mulitmedia Act (CMA) 1998

The Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 is the most relevant legislation in terms of regulating the internet, broadcasting and telecommunications industries. In particular, Section 233 on the improper use of network facilities or network service has been used to initiate investigations against individuals who have used online platforms including social media to publish news content or post comments and opinions.[6] In 2009 six people were charged under the law, the first for offences regarding online content[7], in relation to the controversial royalty-sanctioned political coup in the state of Perak, which was won by the federal opposition coalition in the 2008 elections. The six, who lived in different parts of the country and were not known to be activists or political leaders, were accused separately of insulting the Perak sultan in their comments in the official website of the royalty. Since then, the law has been used to investigate and charge political opponents of the ruling coalition, activists, academics, journalists and lawyers because of their expression online that touch on the following issues: criticism of the Barisan Nasional government and institutions like the police force, questioning the royalty, religion (Islam and others) and discussions on secession of Sabah and Sarawak.[8] According to the Bar Council of Malaysia, in 2015 alone nine cases of investigation or charges under Section 233 of the CMA were recorded; of those, three involved the media, three others were postings on social media site Facebook and the rest of individual blogs/websites.[9]

The law has been used to block news websites and blogs, in addition to those that allegedly contain pornographic content and false or fraudulent product and services advertising. In 2008, the government blocked a political blog, Malaysia Today and its founder, Raja Petra Kamaruddin was later arrested and detained under the then Internal Security Act. In the last year, two other news websites have been blocked; one is the London-based Sarawak Report, which published stories on corruption involving Malaysian political leaders, and The Malaysian Insider, over a story confirming some of the allegations of corruption of the prime minister, Najib Abdul Razak. Blogging site, Medium.com, which was used by the Sarawak Report as an alternative platform was also eventually blocked by the government.[10]

Sedition Act 1948

The most used law for online expression together with the CMA is the Sedition Act 1948. Section 4 states that anyone who does or attempts or conspires to do an act of uttering seditious words or printing, publishing or importing seditious literature, is guilty of sedition. Acts of seditious tendency refer to any act, speech, words or publication that question the government and judiciary, bring into hatred or contempt against the rulers, that promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races and classes and to question the citizenship, the national language and status of other languages, and the status and privileges of the rulers and the bumiputeras (translated as sons of the soil), as described in Section 3. In 2015, the law was amended to include “cause to be published” in addition to the word “publish”, in an apparent bid to target social media users who may argue that the publishers are companies like Facebook and Twitter. Human rights lawyer, Syahredzan Johan said in addition, the courts were given power to order individuals to remove online content and to prohibit further access to any electronic device. A new offence introduced is the propagation of seditious content, essentially making the sharing of digital content a crime even if the person did not create the content/messages.[11] Section 203A essentially criminalises whistleblowing, and in an environment where informants and journalists have disclosed information regarding corrupt practices involving the government, the law becomes a convenient tool of the authorities to prevent further disclosures.

The law and the 2015 amendments have been criticised by many human rights groups and the legal fraternity as having wide and arbitrary definition of what constitutes sedition and the lack of intention as an element to be proven. According to a local political think tank, Institut Rakyat, with the amendments that broadened the scope of the law, those potentially liable for sedition charges include webmasters or publishing agents, speakers in public places, anyone circulating publication deemed seditious, anyone making racist or religiously intolerant remark, online media and any social media user who produces a prohibited publication.[12]

The decisions in some of the cases affirm the limitations in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, and the courts have also weighed on the side of responsibility in exercising freedom of expression especially where the content was related to religion. The decisions in the Perak cases would mean that a person who is targeted by a communication need not feel annoyed or abused, so the test is in the message and intention. In other words, it would be easier for anyone to initiate investigations into comments deemed abusive or annoying without even having the victims confirm or express how the messages impacted on them. Political critics and opponents or any individual could be targeted in the name of the protecting the royalty, an ethnic group or religious community. In the two cases, as the comments were posted on the website of the royal house, the courts were satisfied that intention to annoy had been established. The list of convictions and investigations of online content demonstrate that the ruling BN government has little tolerance for criticisms or expression regarding its governance, institutions like the police force, the royalty, religion (Islam and others) and issues related to secession.

Other laws

Other laws with provisions that impact on expression offline and online are criminal defamation (Sections 499-502 of the Penal Code), criminal intimidation, insult and annoyance (Sections 503-509 of the Penal Code), and investigations and surveillance of digital communications without any judicial oversights (Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA) 2013). SOSMA and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PoTA) were tabled as part of a package of anti-terrorism laws. Among others SOSMA authorises phone-tapping and communications powers to the government. It also controls the electronic anklets issued to track PoTA detainees who have been freed.

An amendment to the Evidence Act 1950 in 2012 introduced Section 114A, which provides that “a 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 republished the contents of the publication unless the contrary is proved.” Essentially, this makes internet intermediaries, including cafes that provide wireless internet, liable for content published over their services. The Bar Council of Malaysia expressed concern that the “wide and draconian” provision also presumes the intermediaries guilty until proven innocent.[13]

Laws on copyright apply online – but what is more relevant is the potential impact of the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), involving 12 countries including the US. Among the main criticisms of the TPPA are its extension of copyright terms favouring rights holders over the public interest, criminalising circumvention tools, favouring parties in trade secrets and making it more difficult for whistleblowers and journalists and placing greater liability on internet intermediaries.[14]

Using the law on defamation, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his party, UMNO, sued independent online portal Malaysiakini over reader comments published in May 2014 criticising him[15], which rights organisations have decried as a threat to freedom of speech. Malaysiakini has refused to remove the posts, which are a compilation of readers’ comments, and are not edited for factual content, and instead had offered Najib a right of reply. He turned it down and took the legal route. A decision in this case (unless it is settled out of court) could determine the liability of news media over readers’ comments and in general, the right to free expression.

Threats to users online

In addition to the legal threats for online expression, threats of physical violence and gender based violence have been documented, targeting women and religious and sexual minorities who use online platforms to exercise their rights to expression and peaceful assembly. For example, Bersih chairperson, Maria Chin Abdullah was the target of sexism and received threats of violence over Facebook and mobile chat apps ahead of and during the two-day mass rally for electoral reforms in August 2015. During the same period, several women volunteers also said they were subject to harassment on their Facebook accounts. A Muslim gay man, Azwan Ismail, who openly shared a video on Youtube to support the gay movement received death threats and was accused by religious authorities of insulting Islam.[16]

Incidents of bullying, especially among young people, are repeated and intensified online. A study by Microsoft Corporation in 2012 found that 33% of children at the age of 8-17 surveyed said they had been subjected to a range of online activities that could be considered cyber bullying, and Malaysia ranked 17th highest in the 25-country survey involving 7,600 children, in incidents of online bullying.[17] In 2014, a nationwide survey of 14,000 students aged  between 13 and 25, on Internet safety found one in every four had experienced being bullied online.[18] CyberSecurity has been tasked to receive complaints and reports as well as to promote safe use online through programmes such as Cybersafe Youths and a hotline for the public to report abuses.

Regulating online behavior and state surveillance

Government ministers have frequently announced plans to monitor and filter online content, citing examples of China’s Green Dam in 2009 or the setting up of a committee for social media, for Malaysia. The excuse often used is to curb pornographic but in recent times, the reasons have been a blatant agenda to silence those who criticise the government and its institutions.[19] The MCMC set up a Special Committee to Combat Abuse of Social Media in January with the aim of strengthening the Internet and new media regulatory mechanism[20], while the police set up the Police Cyber Investigation Response Centre in early 2016, which among others, identified posts on social media, such as Twitter, for investigation. Activist Fahmi Reza, who is known for being one of the organisers of the occupy dataran (a Malaysian version of the US and UK occupy movements) and uses graphic design for his activism, was among those singled out by the PCIRC for investigation under Section 233 of the CMA and Section 504 of the Penal Code.[21]

Malaysia has a Personal Data Protection Act, which came into effect in 2010, but it only covers the private sector and not the public services, although the latter hold a massive amount of individual data. Sinar Project, a local group working on open data, cautioned that government enforcement agencies could still obtain information from the private sector for the purposes of investigations or to monitor communications and activities of members of the public.[22]

In July 2015, media reports exposed that a Malaysian company purchased, reportedly on behalf of three state agencies, surveillance technologies from Hacking Team, a company known for selling spyware systems to governments to spy on their citizens. The government denied the allegation, which was publicised based on leaked information obtained when Hacking Team itself was hacked in 2013, but provided little clarification to the public.[23] Network interference were also detected in relation to political content, especially during the elections. Research by CitizenLab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School[24] and Access Now[25] show attempts at surveillance and network interference during the 2013 general elections.

The government is expected to amend the CMA to mandate the registration of bloggers and political websites, and introduce heavier penalties for sharing online content deemed to be malicious or indecent or annoying, but the changes would mean the mere act of sharing would be an offence, where the current provision requires the demonstration of intent on the user. On the blocking of websites under the CMA, and now emboldened in the amended Sedition Act, websites hosting anti-government content could easily be shut down. Proposed amendments to the CMA would in fact give the regulatory body, the MCMC, absolute discretion to order the ISPs to immediately shut down websites believed to be harmful, although the definitions are not clear as to the specific situations that would warrant the action. Others include requiring ISPs to track users’ surfing record, made real because of the government’s use of surveillance software in the past.[26] This should also be seen in the context of introduction in 2012 of the Cyber Centre and Cyber Café (Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur) Rules, which requires owners and operators to keep a registry of computer usage of each computer, including the identity details of the customers and the date and period of use of each computer.

Civil Society initiatives and alternatives

Despite the onslaught by the state against critics, both high profile individuals and ordinary citizens, civil society has actively responded against the attacks. These are done through public awareness raising campaigns, lobbying legislators to resist legal amendments, dissent and action, and the use of international mechanisms to place pressure on the Malaysian government.

Awareness raising and campaigns

Among the campaigns related to defending the internet spaces and expression are the annual monitoring reports[27] by groups like SUARAM and the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ). SUARAM’s annual human rights reports on civil and political rights, highlights the abuse of laws such as the Sedition Act by the state against opposition party representative, artists, journalists and other individuals. Similarly, CIJ documents incidents of and trends in use of laws and other forms of threats against expression online and offline. In January 2016, Amnesty International issued a report entitled Critical Crackdown: Freedom of Expression in Malaysia, focusing on the persecution under the Sedition Act, including of individuals who commented on social media or published articles online. Also monitoring the internet and violations of freedom of expression is the Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER), which released a report in 2015 on the status of freedom of expression online in Malaysia.

Stop114A campaign

In April 2012, the Malaysian Parliament passed amendments to the Evidence Act 1950, and to include Section 114A that places liability on individuals and intermediaries for content considered seditious of defamatory by the government, as long as the authorities can trace an online post back to their usernames. The laws on evidence basically govern the admissibility of evidence in the courts of law. This amendment would make it easier for enforcement agencies to place the burden on intermediaries (owners of devices, internet service providers, cybercafé owners, cafes with internet connections, website hosts and owners) particularly when investigating online comments posted anonymously. In response to the proposed amendments, civil society, coordinated by CIJ, in cooperation with tech companies, organised a nationwide internet ‘blackout’ day on 14 August 2012. Campaigners also approached legislators to stop the amendments. Public forums and online discussions were held to gather public support for the campaign.[28]

NetMerdeka

A coalition of civil society groups came together in February 2016 to campaign against the proposed amendments to the CMA, announced since late 2015. The campaign, NetMerdeka (loosely translated as internet freedom) focuses on defending internet freedom and freedom of expression, bringing together groups working on civil and political rights and the media. Since it started, the coalition organised two Twitter chats to raise public awareness on the freedom of online news portals and the proposal to register political blogs and websites, and a public Google Hangout event.[29]

Dissent and creative actions

The spate of the arrests under the Sedition Act for expression, including online ones, led to the formation of a movement in September 2014, involving than 100 non-governmental organisations, to call for repeal the law. The movement is known locally as the Gerakan Hapus Akta Hasutan (GHAH). It also advocates for the release of all those arrested and held under the law and for the authorities to drop all charges. A special fund was established to collect donations that would be used to support costs for legal aid and public campaigning against the Sedition Act. In November 2015, GHAH submitted a memorandum to the Attorney General to reiterate the call to abolish the law.

Individuals have also used creative ways to protest the online crackdown, among them, independent graphic designers and artists who use paintings, drawings and music to reach out to the wider public. Graphic designer Fahmi Reza, well known for his film on the history of left politics in Malaysia and as one of the organisers of the local Occupy movement, has used design and murals to challenge the establishment. He has also been subject to police investigations. His latest creative dissent is the poster depicting the image of the scandal-rid prime minister Najib Razak as a clown, with the hashtag #KitaSemuaPenghasut (“We Are Seditious”), widely shared on social media and in physical public locations.

International lobbying

Civil society in Malaysia have also raised the violations of freedom of expression, including the threats to netizens, to international mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the Special Rapporteur the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression (UNSRFOE). Restrictions on freedom of expression were highlighted in the Stakeholder Report to the UPR[30] during Malaysia’s second review in 2013. While the Malaysian government has not extended an invitation to the UNSRFOE, civil society groups have raised concerns and incidents through expert meetings with the rapporteur.

Conclusion

The ICT industry is a mix of neo-liberalism when it comes to the economic approach, but with a considerable amount of state influence (ownership) and regulation is retained. Using the excuse of protecting public order, ethnic relations and national security, the government has demonstrated its priorities to impose controls and restrictions online as well as to conduct digital surveillance. The legal environment that impacts on fundamental civil liberties has been systematically undermined while practices of blocking, intimidation, and persecution are aimed at curtailing any criticism of the ruling government and institutions, much like the trends in the region. Civil society continues to attempt challenging the restrictions, through local and international advocacy, while independent media outlets press on with questions regarding surveillance and the persecution of individuals.

 

 

 

 

[1] Postill, J. 2014. A critical history of internet activism ad social protest in Malaysia, 1998-2011. Asiascape: Digital Asia Journal 1-2: 78-103. https://johnpostill.com/2013/11/02/a-critical-history-of-internet-activism-and-social-protest-in-malaysia-1998-2011/

[2] Freedom House. Freedom on the Net 2015: Malaysia. 2015. https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2015/malaysia

[3] Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister’s Department of Malaysia. Strategy Paper 15: Driving ICT in the Knowledge Economy. 2015. http://rmk11.epu.gov.my/pdf/strategy-paper/Strategy%20Paper%2015.pdf

[4] International Labour Organisation. “National Report on the ICT Sector in Malaysia” in World Employment Report 2001: Life at Work in the Information Economy. 2001. http://www.bibhost.ulb.ac.be/cdrom/wer_lawitie/back/mal_1.htm

[5] Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. Communications and Multimedia: Pocket Book of Statistics. 2015. http://www.skmm.gov.my/skmmgovmy/media/General/pdf/CM-Q2-2015-BI-(pdf).pdf

[6] Section 233: “(1) A person who – (a) by means of any network facilities or network service or applications service knowingly – (i) makes, creates or solicits; and (ii) initiates the transmission of, any comment, request, suggestion or other communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person; or (b) initiates a communication using any applications service, whether continuously, repeatedly or otherwise, during which communication may or may not ensue, with or without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person at any number or electronic address, commits an offence. (2) A person who knowingly – (a) by means of a network service or applications service provides any obscene communication for commercial purposes to any person; or (b) permits a network service or applications service under the person ‘s control to be used for an activity described in paragraph (a), commits an offence. (3) A person who commits an offence under this section shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both and shall also be liable to a further fine of one thousand ringgit for every day during which the offence is continued after conviction.”

[7] The Star. Six to be charged for insulting Perak sultan in blogs, web posts. 13 March 2009. http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2009/03/13/six-to-be-charged-for-insulting-perak-sultan-in-blogs-web-posts/

[8] Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER), Status of freedom of expression online. Country report: Malaysia. 2015. http://empowermalaysia.org/isi/uploads/sites/3/EMPOWER-FOE-Malaysia-Country-Report-2015.pdf

[9] Bar Council of Malaysia. Press Release: Section 233(1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 creates a chilling effect on freedom of speech and expression, and should be repealed. 21 December 2015.  http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/press_statements/press_release_%7C_section_2331a_of_the_communications_and_multimedia_act_1998_creates_a_chilling_effect_on_freedom_of_speech_and_expression_and_should_be_repealed.html

[10] Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Malaysia. Media statement: Expect walls to close in on freedom of expression and information. 25 February 2016. https://www.facebook.com/notes/centre-for-independent-journalism/expect-walls-to-close-in-further-on-freedom-of-expression-and-information/1261635880518400

[11] For a critique of the amendments, see Syahredzan Johan. “Sedition Act Amendments and impact” in The Star Online. 20 April 2015. http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/online-exclusive/a-humble-submission/2015/04/20/sedition-act-amendments/

[12] Shao Loong, Yin. The Sedition (Amendment) Bill 2015: Context and Implications. http://www.institutrakyat.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/IR-Sedition-Amendment-Report-2015.pdf  Institut Rakyat.

[13] Bar Council of Malaysia. Press Release: Repeal section 114A of the Evidence Act 1950. 13 August 2012. http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/press_statements/press_release_repeal_section_114a_of_the_evidence_act_1950.html

[14] Electronic Frontier Foundation. Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. (n.d) https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp

[15] Malaysiakini.com. Najib, Umno sue Mkini over readers’ comments. 3 June 2014. https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/264611

[16] Gayathry Venkiteswaran. Freedom of assembly and association online in India, Malaysia and Pakistan: Trends, challenges and recommendations. 2016. https://www.apc.org/en/system/files/Impact_Digital.pdf Association for Progressive Communications

[17] Microsoft Corporation. Online Bullying Among Youth 8-17 Years of Age – Malaysia. 2012. https://www.apc.org/en/system/files/Impact_Digital.pdf

[18] The Ant Daily. Is cyberbullying getting out of hand? 4 October 2014. http://www.theantdaily.com/Main/Is-cyberbullying-getting-out-of-hand

[19] The Star. IGP: Immature Internet user forcing cops to crack down on social media. 12 January 2016. http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/01/12/igp-police-to-monitor-social-media/

[20] The Malay Mail Online. 52 websites blocked by MCMC since early this year. 8 March 2016. http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/52-websites-blocked-by-mcmc-since-early-this-year

[21] The Malay Mail Online. Activist confirms now under probe for clown face poster, says unafraid. 23 February 2016. http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/activist-confirms-now-under-probe-for-clown-face-poster-says-unafraid

[22] Sinar Project. Digital Rights in Malaysia: 25 Oct 2015 Workshop on Digital Rights. http://sinarproject.org/en/updates/digital-rights-in-malaysia

[23] Rozario, Keith. “Spyware: Government denial despite the evidence” in Digital News Asia. 12 January 2016. https://www.digitalnewsasia.com/spyware-government-denial-despite-evidence

[24] Citizen Lab. For Their Eyes Only: The Commercialization of Digital Spying. 30 April 2013. https://citizenlab.org/2013/04/for-their-eyes-only-2/ Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.

[25] Access Now. Tracking network interference around political content in Malaysia. 2 May 2013. https://www.accessnow.org/tracking-network-interference-malaysia/

[26] The Citizen Lab. Short Background: Citizen Lab Research on FinFisher Presence in Malaysia. May 2013. https://citizenlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/shortbg-malaysia1.pdf

[27] Reports by SUARAM, Amnesty International and EMPOWER can be accessed at these links: http://www.suaram.net/?page_id=7234 ;

https://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/asa2831472016.pdf ;

http://empowermalaysia.org/isi/uploads/sites/3/EMPOWER-FOE-Malaysia-Country-Report-2015.pdf

[28] Information regarding the campaign and updates were collated on the website https://stop114a.wordpress.com/ while a Facebook page called 1Milion Malaysians against Evidence (Amendment) (No2) Act 2012 managed to gather over 46,000 likes. The campaigners also organised a petition, which was handed over to the then de facto law minister. CIJ press release on the petition: http://cijmalaysia.org/2012/06/27/press-release-petition-to-stop-controversial-amendment-handed-to-deputy-minister/). An analysis of the campaign, which noted that unlike the SOPA/PIPA campaign in the US, the Malaysian one attracted less tech companies but drew the support of the opposition parties, can be read here: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2012/08/31/malaysias-internet-blackout-politicisation-of-online-activism/

[29] The conversations can be read here: https://storify.com/empowermalaysia

[30] Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR Process. Stakeholder Report on Malaysia for the 17th Session in the 2nd Cycle of the HRC’s Universal Periodic Review in 2013. 11 March 2013.  http://www.suaram.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Comango-Report-11Mar13-FINAL-+-Annexure.pdf