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    Jan 17, 2014

    KL denies blocking BBC 'kangkung' report


    MALAYSIA'S Internet regulator yesterday 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 travelling with his wife on luxurious private jets at taxpayers' 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 Datuk Seri 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 on Tuesday, but many Malaysian Web users began to complain that they could not access it about 24 hours later, sparking accusations that it was being blocked by the authorities.

    A spokesman for the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission said it had not blocked the page, but said various Malaysian service providers could have acted of their own accord.

    The problem appeared to affect mainly those using government-controlled Telekom Malaysia's (TM's) Internet service.

    A TM spokesman said the company was "checking with our network team" on the issue.