The Ministry of Information, Malaysia, is to set up a unit to monitor issues of national interest on the Internet. The unit would answer all 'lies and slander'.
Deputy Information Minister, Chia Kwang Chye said the idea was mooted in view of the 'growing importance of the Internet as a powerful communication tool.'
Chia said answers would be in the form of written explanations. However, he did not say how or to whom the answers are to be given.
Of late, the Information Ministry has been 'invading' into other ministries portfolios and this latest move is a classic example.
The Information Ministry have no enforcement power on the Internet or its contents, in fact, it has no enforcement power even over contents of its own radio and television networks. The enforcement power has been transfered to the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry.
Under prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad, the Information Ministry's 'power' has been reduced to just information and a not-so-accurate and reliable feedback agency. Its supervisory and authority on broadcasting matters including approving of licence and monitoring of electronic media contents has been taken away. It has also lost control over the National Film Development Corporation or FINAS to the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry.
The Information Ministry is now left with the Information Department, the National News Agency (Bernama), the National Film Unit (Filem Negara) and the Special Affairs Department. Bernama, a statutory board, is factually on its own feet.
It is a well known fact that the Information Ministry has not been successful in a number of tasks assigned to it. For example, it failed to woo foreign news agencies and electronic media to set up their regional office or bureau in Kuala Lumpur.
In the year 2000, the ministry said that it was wooing the foreign media to Kuala Lumpur which it claimed offered comparative advantages such as the KL International Airport, the Multi Media Super Corridor and the Petronas Twin Towers.
The government failed to establish Kuala Lumpur as a regional news and information centre and the Information Ministry was responsible for its failure.
International news agencies and television news networks such as Reuters, AFP (French news agency), Associated Press, Kyodo news agency, Jiji and Fuji from Japan, Cable News Network (CNN), CNBC and BBC decided to set up their regional bureaus in Singapore.
Now, the ministry wants to monitor issues of national interest on the Internet, what can I say... enjoy surfing the net!