Saturday, August 05, 2006

Why I Might Not Blog About Malaysia Either

If you've read my earlier blog about my reluctance to blog about Singapore, it had a lot to do with the attitudes of the authorities towards unsanctioned publishing on the internet.

Malaysia seems to have taken a page from Singapore's book. When Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi took over the reins of Prime Ministership from Tun Dr Mahathir, there was a definite liberalisation of the press and well as unbridled freedom of expression on the internet.

However since Tun M came out of retirement to basically lambast Pak Lah's government over alleged mishandling of various matters, the internet has exploded with alternative news and blogging activity. And then there were the recent fiascos ranging from nude squat incident and Royal Commissions investigating the police force, to quarrels surrounding conversion and apostasy that dragged the Constitution and the status of Islam into debate, as well as the student disputes at local universities which had some racial undertones.

Each incident was like a super-cute 36D Japanese porn actress begging to do unimaginably naughty things on a blogger's keyboard. Even I was not immune to the sly charms of busty, slutty babes. Oishi desu ne. As the tens of my blog postings attributed to the Mahathir vs Abdullah Badawi saga below show.

Now the Malaysian government seems to want to crack down on internet discourse on politics, religion and the economy. The Minister of Information, Zainuddin Maidin has stated that monitoring and regulation for information disseminated over the internet is necessary in order to increase the credibility of information on Malaysia found on the internet. The Deputy Minister for Internal Security, Foo Ah Kiow has said that some websites were already being investigated. The Minister of Primary Trade, Lim Keng Yaik however, said that the internet will not be censored, as the government agreed to refrain from doing that in order to promote the Multimedia Super Corridor. But at end of the day, the axe drops. Pak Lah himself put the proverbial nail into the coffin of Malaysian bloggers everywhere. He said that bloggers will be DETAINED! if the information found on their websites were found to be untrue, or found to be detrimental to the country's racial and religious harmony or found to erode support for the government's economic policies.

So, what are bloggers to do? Should every blog be sent to the Information Ministry for vetting and approval first? Should blogging be stopped all together and you head to the coffeeshops for your daily fix of armchair politics?

Are statements of opinion judged in the same manner as statements of fact? By definition, opinions are non-facts which are derived from the analysis of facts. And by the PM's definition, that's exactly what will get a blogger detained.

Should the Kamunting Detention center deter bloggers? My cousin gave his quirky description of what he thought inmates at Kamunting go through. He thinks that they make you wear baggy trousers with drawstrings and striped shirts made from canvas. You get woken up every night just as you're about to get some sleep and your meals are eaten out of steel cans squatting next to a drain. And everyday's a bad hair day.

Sounds like a regular day at girl scout camp to me, but what I'm really afraid of is being put in a cell with a big dude named Tongkat,... Tongkat Ali who has a 9 inch cure for constipation. And he's feeling real lonely. And horny. Well, until I came along anyway.

And here's where I draw the line. I'm for freedom of expression, power to the people, kumbaya, zippedeedoodaa and all that, but my round white bum with dimpled cheeks is really not made for a that kind of experience.

So, I'll be laying off the political, religious and racial issues for the time being. Just until it's a bit more definite how the wind is blowing, and whether it brings a whiff of Tongkat Ali with it.

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