Malaysia denies censoring BBC report on prime minister
January 16, 2014 00:00
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Internet regulator on Thursday denied accusations that it was blocking access to a BBC report about netizens in the Muslim-majority nation lampooning the country's prime minister.
Prime Minister Najib Razak's administration faces public discontent over hikes in government-controlled fuel and power prices.
He responded to the criticism in a weekend speech in which he highlighted a drop in the price of water spinach, a common dish in Malaysian cuisine known locally as "kangkung".
Malaysians soon began mocking the aristocratic Najib -- who recently came under fire for traveling with his wife on luxurious private jets at taxpayer's expense -- as being out of touch with common citizens.
Critics posted thousands of tweets and a Facebook page simply titled "Kangkung" that pokes fun at Najib has garnered 18,000 likes, while local media said "Keep Calm and Eat Kangkung" t-shirts have gone on sale.
British broadcaster the BBC picked up the story in a report on its website Tuesday, but many Malaysian Web-users began to complain that they could not access it about 24 hours later, sparking accusations it was being blocked by the authorities.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) told AFP it had not blocked the page, but said various Malaysian service providers could have acted of their own accord.
"Not that I know of. From our end there is no block," its corporate communications head Sheikh Raffie Abdul Rahman said.