KATHMANDU, Dec 5: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has asserted that he has no intention of restricting citizens' freedom of thought and expression by imposing a ban on social media.
During a discussion with editors at the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers office on Monday, he clarified that there are no plans to ban social networks other than TikTok. "Following the ban of TikTok, there is a suspicion that other social networks will also be banned. Let's not see it that way," he stated. "There is no intention to curtail people’s rights. The government cannot even think of it."
Dahal emphasized that the decision to ban TikTok was not made arbitrarily. Opposition party leaders raised concerns about the TikTok ban during an all-party meeting, prompting discussions on its potential negative impact, including family disharmony, quarrels, and depression.
“At my home, what I see is that my grandchildren are frequently engaged in watching TikTok," he said. He noted that while the ban on TikTok might curtail citizens' freedom of thought and expression, a new law currently in the drafting process could address the issue. The regulation, embedded in the new law, could potentially lead to the withdrawal of the ban.
Recently, the government agreed in-principle to endorse several bills related to the communication sector, including one focused on the operation and regulation of social networks. Prime Minister Dahal hinted that the ban could be lifted in accordance with the upcoming law.
In a written response to a petition challenging the TikTok ban at the Supreme Court, Prime Minister Dahal commented that TikTok had propagated diseases and epidemics within Nepali society. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology had claimed that the ban was necessary due to the impractical regulation of TikTok.
"Since social harmony and the social environment are being negatively affected through TikTok, which is being used as a social network, the use of TikTok will be immediately banned in Nepal and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology will make arrangements for thi," he said.
Nearly a dozen writ petitions against the government's TikTok ban are being simultaneously heard in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.