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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Stop 114A: Veni, Vidi, Victorious (well, almost)

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It may not have sunk in yet for many who participated, but yesterday’s Internet Blackout Day was a significant victory. And if for no other reason, it’s because of this:

PM Najib's momentous tweet

We, the netizens of Malaysia, saw a problem with Amendment 114A, we took positive action, and that action has been noticed.

For this, we have to thank the Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) for the Internet Blackout Day initiative. In terms of raising awareness about the problematic 114A, and having a positive outcome (so far), the initiative was a definite success.

It’s a small victory, but the fight for a free, unencumbered Internet is far from over. In a larger sense, this fight is for a freer, a more open, and ultimately, a more vibrant Malaysia. 
(Stop114A gets noticed worldwide, and more, in the full post)

While it may be a small victory, it’s an important one. The Malaysian Internet Blackout Day got noticed, not just by our Prime Minister, but far beyond our shores, by international news agencies (ABC, BBC, CNET, Forbes, and MSN, among others – see here for a longer list).

Another important indicator, pointing to the success of the initiative: the hashtag #Stop114A made it to the Top 10  Twitter trends yesterday, peaking at second position, if not mistaken.

The initiative’s success is acknowledged by the organizer, CIJ in an article published today by Free Malaysia Today.

CIJ executive officer Masjazliza Hamzah told FMT that the response to the campaign – created to highlight a unpopular amendment to the Evidence Act 1950- was phenomenal.

“In terms of response to the campaign, it’s just phenomenal,” she said, conceding however that it was not as “huge” as other online protests have been in the past.

“The catalysts are the websites…and the business that supported it…[but] I think the credit should go to netizens for making themselves aware of it,” Masjazliza added.

Nevertheless, she noted that the campaign – which saw many websites either going offline or hosting black pop-ups messages- helped to not only create a public awareness, but also pressured the government to think twice about the amendment.

(source: Free Malaysia Today)

Of course, yesterday’s Internet Blackout Day wasn’t without its detractors, primarily Tan Keng Liang, Kedah Gerakan Youth Chief. Whether the guy didn’t bother to read anything posted on what was required of the Blackout participants, or simply ignored facts to just be his irritating self, Tan (and others “inspired” by him) went on a tweet-rampage running down any opposition politician who were tweeting between 0000 and 2359 hrs.

It is believed that it was Tan who penned the #BlackOutTipu hashtag used throughout yesterday (and today), tracing back to the tweet that first used the hashtag.

But enough about Tan Keng Liang – you have to take your hat off to the man for his perseverance in being annoying…

In any case, the onus is now on the Cabinet to “discuss” Section 114A, and do something about it, not simply discuss the amendment. Walski is rather intrigued – isn’t this the same Cabinet that drafted the legislation and pushed it through Parliament in the first place? Weren’t “people first” then?

Question, Walski’s sure, that many others are wondering, too. But be that as it may, let’s hope something real and positive comes out of said “discussion” (whenever that might be).

Again, KUDOS to CIJ for an initiative well executed, and to all who participated in yesterday’s Internet Blackout, congratulations on a job well done.

Never forget that yesterday was a real victory, even though the battle is far from over. What the next step will be all depends on the anticipated Cabinet discussion and, presumably, action.

We wait with bated breath…