By clumsy and Luddite block of Steam because of “Fight of Gods” computer game, Salleh has caused greater global embarrassment to Malaysia than all the five Prime Ministers put together in 60 years

By his clumsy and Luddite block of Steam because of “Fight of Gods” computer game, the Minister for Multimedia and Communications Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has caused greater embarrassment to Malaysia than all the five Prime Ministers put together in 60 years.

Yesterday, Salleh ordered that the popular gaming provider, Steam, be blocked over its failure to prevent Malaysians from downloading the controversial new computer game “Fight of Gods”.

The block order to Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) was rescinded by Salleh this morning.

In this period of blockade of Steam, Malaysia came into the radar of consciousness of hundreds of millions of youth in the world, who otherwise have never thought of Malaysia, but unfortunately in the most embarrassing and worst possible light – with Malaysia the butt of global outrage and frustration by tens even hundreds of millions of computer gamers, reinforcing the impression that Malaysia is very intolerant and has a closed mentality, totally contradictory to an open, inclusive and tolerant approach.

Isn’t it possible for Salleh and the MCMC to carry out their duties under the Communications and Multimedia Act without causing such colossal damage to Malaysia’s international standing and reputation – as if the country’s infamy and ignominy in the last two years as a global kleptocracy as a result of the international multi-billion dollar 1MDB money-laundering scandal is not bad enough!

Malaysia needs a Minister and IT experts to man the MCMC who are savvy enough to know the far-reaching implications of every move to ban or block Internet communications, and not to have a Minister for Multimedia Communications or those who helm the MCMC to behave like bulls in China shops.

Are Salleh and the MCMC chiefs aware that pc computer games are a universal phenomenon, that a year ago, it had been estimated to reach 1.2 billion gamers playing on the pc, and that some of the popular computer games have millions upon millions of players like:

  1. The League of Legends, which has dominated the online market since at least 2012. Four years ago, the massively popular game had about 12 million people a day, and about 32 million unique players every month. The game has now grown to an impressive 100 million players a month who play the game for more than one billion hours.
  2. Hearthstone, which has more than 50 million players who log in last month. Despite coming in second, Hearthstone is actually the most popular game to watch in the world of eSports, and since it has that distinction, Hearthstone competitors get paid the most amount of money to play in eSports tournaments (sometimes millions of US dollars).
  3. Overwatch, which has managed to secure 20 million unique registered players since its release earlier this year.
  4. Dota 2, the most played game on Steam. Dota 2 has has about 15 million unique players, with roughly one million players signing in each day.
  5. World of Warcraft lost more than 40% of its subscribers last year but still remains a force to be reckoned with.
  6. Counter Strike: Global Offensive – the second most played game on Steam. Nearly 3 million players join the game every month, though with more than 250 million hours of game play, those players spend quite a lot of time in the game.

It is agreed that action should be taken to ensure that the “Fight of Gods” computer game does not run afoul of the country’s priority to ensure solidarity, harmony and the well-being of the multiracial and multi-religious people in the country, but great savviness and sensitivities are needed to ensure that the Minister for Communication and Multimedia and the MCMC chiefs ti do not act like “bulls in China shops”.

The publisher of the controversial game “Fight of Gods” has said that “no direct communication has been received by us” on the Malaysian Government’s plan to forcibly remove from sale the computer game in Malaysia but reiterate that it “respect any rules and censorship imposed in any given territory”.

The question remains: Whether the same result could be achieved without the enormous harm world-wide to Malaysia’s image and good reputation as an inclusive, tolerant and accommodating plural society.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah