The blogging platform Medium has been blocked in Malaysia after failing to cooperate with requests to remove a post that raises suspicions of corruption relating to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. The matter concerns a sum of over $700 million that had been transferred into the Prime Minister's bank account just before the general election in 2013. The Prime Minister did narrowly win re-election, but the attorney general began an investigation into the possibility of corruption. The Prime Minister later fired the attorney general and replaced him with a new one, who eventually cleared the prime minister on the corruption charges.
The Malaysian government also began to crack down on any reporting on the matter, including blocking sites and arresting journalists. One site, the Sarawak Report (an independent journalism site focused on exposing corruption in Malaysia), began reposting its stories on Medium after its own site was blocked in the country. On January 20, Medium received an email from Malaysian authorities to take down an article by the Sarawak Report, "in order to prevent the circulation of false, unsubstantiated and misleading content that affect Malaysia's social stability, tarnish confidence in Malaysia's economy, as well as undermine a democratically elected Prime Minister and Government."
Medium sent back a response email asking for more information about what exactly in the article was false, asking to see any related documents, as well as asking if this dispute had been pursued in court. However they received no response to the email. On January 22, it was reported by users in Malaysia that they could no longer access the site, and it was later confirmed by Malaysian authorities that they had ordered ISPs to block the site. The statement reads:
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had instructed ISPs to block medium.com due to the publishing platform being used by The Sarawak Report to continue publishing its articles.
The decision to limit access to the site was taken in accordance with Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
MCMC is at the same time engaging with medium.com to remove Sarawak Report from its platform.
A post by the Medium legal team indicates they will not be taking down the article without a court order. "Medium’s in no position to evaluate the truth of the Sarawak Report’s Medium post," the statement reads, "We’ve received no evidence that the post violates any of our Rules, or any law. We stand by investigative journalists who publish on Medium. Until we receive an order from a court of competent jurisdiction, the post stays up."
Is Medium right to keep the post up? What do you think of the Malaysian government's actions? Leave your comments below!