Last weekend, Marina M, Nuraina Samad and Walski were interviewed by Jonathan Kent, Malaysian correspondent for the BBC. The topic of discussion was, of course, blogging and the current environment of phobic reactions by the nations leaders and politicians. This was for a story that Jonathan is working on.
Snippets of the interview, however, made it to this week's Digital Planet, a BBC podcast program focusing on technology. Walski has taken the liberty of providing you a link to the podcast (at the end of this post). Once again, the attention on Malaysia is for all the wrong reasons, no thanks to our less-than-up-to-speed politicos.
If you have been paying attention, apart from the statement by Fu Ah Kow in The Star yesterday (more about that later), pretty much all the noise has been emanating from UMNO. In particular, the target of verbal castigation has been RPK (who's also featured in the podcast). It does make one wonder, however - why the intense fear? So much fear, it appears, to the point that the threats and accusations hurled at the blogging community in general have bordered on the insanely ridiculous.
And of course, the latest in the phobiathon is the setting up of the Cyber Police by UMNO Youth - amidst the calls, once again, to use ISA to stiffle the growing voices of dUMNatiOn. It really makes one wonder why.... why now, more than ever. What is it exactly that these political elites are afraid of - apart, of course, from the exposures of unsavory conduct.
Now, whether the various accusations are true or not, we'll never really know. Not as long as we have an Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) that is seen to not be effective, and what Walski sees as interference by the Attorney General's office in high-profile investigations - the most recent being the announcement by AG Abdul Ghani "No Case" Patail, absolving the former ACA Deptuy Chief and the IGP of any wrongdoing.
Well, be that as it may - Walski, for one, does really wonder why the fear, that has pretty much graduated to becoming full-fledged paranoia, on the part of UMNO...
(the root and sum of all fears, and more, in the full post)
Put that thought on hold for a sec...
Also last weekend, amidst the high-profile goblokfication by Joe Goebbels and Protozoa Tyson, there was an article in The Star that kinda got overshadowed somewhat. Walski may, of course, be totally mistaken, but he thinks it holds some clues as to explaining the paranoia.
Click on image to view article, or download a PDF copy here
Now, of course, on Walski's part, he's probably giving more credit to dUMNO's collective intellectual capacity than they actually deserve. Let's put our disbelief into suspension for a bit, though. Humor Walski for a while...
It's no surprise that the next stage of poitical campaigning would naturally go online. In the context of Malaysia, this is a good way of working around the unfair restrictions put on opposition parties during election time - no political rallies, difficult-to-get police permits for political lectures, the short campaigning period. The same rules don't apply to BN, of course, who have at their disposal the Information Ministry and the UMNO-backed media juggernaut.
Another piece of the puzzle is perhaps what Jeff Ooi has done - and Walski doesn't mean his foray into politics. It's the website that he's set up, cluing us in on the way to how the political agenda will be fought in times to come. Walski's talking about the setting up of the Jeff 4 Malaysia website. Looking at digtal adeptness, the DAP definitely holds the lead, bar none, in politicking on the web. That's intelligent politicking, not the gossip, fear-mongering and backbiting type of politicking we see being done by others.
Now assemble the pieces - and again, this assumes that the politicos in power actually have the smarts to put 2-and-2 together (and not come up with 7) - what if they actually DO see what's coming? That the fight for political mindshare (and eventually, votes) is to be played out on the Internet?
This would mean that the idiocy being displayed so far is just a smokescreen. Scary thought... but ONLY if Walski's assumption about their intellectual capacity is on-mark. Otherwise, they are just being idiotic.
Joining in the fray, of course, albeit in a more dignified manner, is Deputy Minister Fu Ah Kow, who's asked us to exercise self-censorship. Well, sir, do a little analysis of whom exactly has been going around inciting racist and "sensitive" sentiments. You'll find that by and large it's not really us bloggers. It's definitely someone else. The reason why blogs have become so popular in the first place is because the mainstream press has chosen self-censorship (with some coercion) - to the point of eroding their own credibility.
That said, Walski does agree that propogation of rumors and unverified news, without making it clear that they are rumors and unverified news, is probably something we should all avoid, regardless of the medium of transmission.
Then again, as the old adage goes, there usually is no smoke without something smouldering somewhere...
The BBC Digital Planet Podcast: Digital Planet is a broadcast radio news show from the BBC, which is now available in the form of podcasts. The focus of this program is on technology in general, and also IT from time to time. Clicking the Digital Planet logo on the right will either download the podcast Walski mentioned, or play it on your media player of choice, depending on your browser and PC set-up. The parts focusing on the current onslaught against bloggers can be found between time-markers 1:25 and 7:29 (inclusive). But do give the whole thing a listen... you'll realize why Malaysia is still better than Kazakhstan - Borat notwithstanding (but Walski doesn't know for how long), and that while much of the civilized world is moving forward technologically, many here in Malaysia are sitll getting their panties in a bunch over free access to information... Oh, and last, but certainly not least, a big thank you to Jonathan Kent for sending Walski the link.