Najib: "It's Not That We Don't Want Freedom, But We Don't Want Absolute Freedom"

Najib said the government could not obstruct the progress of technology, but it also could not give absolute freedom to the extent that untruths were turned into truths.

Cover image via Mohd Rasfan/AFP

PM Najib Razak seems to be on a roll to curb & control not just his Cabinet but also other section of the society that's questioning him over his alleged involvement with the 1MDB scandal.

On 2 August, during his speech at the opening of the Hulu Selangor Umno division Annual General Meeting in Kuala Kubu Baru, the embattled PM bemoaned that he was a victim of "trial by social media", hinting at looming changes to laws regulating the Internet.

Image via My News Hub

In a speech today, he bemoaned that he was a victim of "trial by social media" and claimed that netizens hold him to different standards compared to opposition leaders. As such, the laws regulating the Internet and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will be revamped to address this.

"If scandals (affecting the opposition) happen to an Umno or BN leader, he would have been charged long ago, (or) forced to resign long ago. This is not fair. We must fix this situation. One way is through enforcement. MCMC and laws need to be diperkemaskan (updated)."

"It's not that we don't want freedom, but we don't want absolute freedom such that slander and falsehood are treated as the truth," Malaysiakini quoted Najib, who is also the Umno President, as saying during the officiation of the Hulu Selangor Umno division

To make his point, Najib cited two controversies involving opposition leaders, while complaining that they were quickly dismissed and swept aside.

Without naming those implicated in these incident, Najib spoke about a sex tape depicting a man resembling former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and another sex tape involving a "large pair of men's underwear" supposedly depicting then PAS secretary-general Mustafa Ali, among several other issues.

"When it comes to the opposition, all these are considered as slander and false allegations. People have clearly been (caught) with 'China Dolls' and lost an Omega watch, but that is still considered untrue and his supporters defended him, even winning an election. Isn't that strange?" he said.

Both Anwar and Mustafa had denied involvement in the videos.

On the flipside, Najib lamented that he is held to be "guilty until proven innocent" on social media and even BN itself had been a victim.

Urging Umno members, he said they should also become an active social media practitioner and have a specific programme to change the perception of the people towards the current government

"Today, perception seems to overwhelm reality. We need to understand the situation when faced with attacks in cyberspace to better position our party," he said.

Najib said party members should come up with strategies to attract the support of the people and not revel in one's own self-satisfaction when implementing any programme.

According to Malaysiakini's report, Najib related to the delegates about how netizens believed allegations that 40,000 Bangladeshi nationals were being flown in to vote during the 13th General Election despite the logistical nightmare of such an endeavour, and allegations that he brought his wife Rosmah to Cabinet meetings

Image via Malaysia Today

He said the photo purported to be that of Rosmah in a cabinet meeting with him and several minister was in fact taken in a hotel during an official visit to Beijing.

"When we read law, ('innocent until proven guilty') is the maxim, and even if you want to punish, we must (prove the crime) beyond reasonable doubt. But when are faced with 'trial by social media', especially for us as members of the administration, it seems to have turned around.

"We are already pronounced guilty, and we are forced to prove our innocence," he lamented.

Meanwhile, Azalina Othman Said, the newly appointed Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, has called for changes to laws to ensure a tighter control on social media.

She said an emergency Parliamentary sitting should be convened to amend various laws governing Internet and media usage.

Image via NST

"I fully support what our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said on the issue of slander on social media earlier today. These changes need to be made because of the lies which have poisoned the minds of the people resulting in a negative perception towards the Government," she said in a statement on Sunday.

The Pengerang MP added that social media is being used as a medium to abuse freedom of speech, which is against the principle of democracy.

Here's what Najib said during his speech at Seremban:

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