KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has called for the Internet to be censored to preserve “public morality,” in what the opposition suggested yesterday was an attempt to silence government critics.
Mahathir, who was the country’s longest-serving prime minister, in office from 1981 to 2003, remains an influential figure in Malaysian politics.
“The Internet has played a major role in undermining public morality,” 89-year-old Mahathir said in a blog posting Friday.
“I don’t care how sacred is freedom but I think the time has come for governments, at least the Malaysian government to censor the Internet.”
Mahathir pledged in the 1990s that the government would never censor the Internet, in a bid to lure high-tech foreign investment.
“Not knowing the power of the Internet, I promised that we (speaking then as the prime minister of Malaysia) would not censor it. But today I have changed my mind,” he said.
Mahathir, an avid social media user, said Internet content was already censored.
“I myself have suffered from such censorship. When I put on my blog, an article on the Jews, without any explanation, my article was prevented from being linked to Facebook,” he said.
Tony Pua, an opposition lawmaker with the Democratic Action Party, said that supported “some degree of Internet control” against pornography but there should be no censorship of news or opinion pieces.