Loyal Followers

Monday, July 20, 2015

Malaysia - the Moderate Country Which Bans a Website

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” – Newton’s 3d law of motion.

The Malaysian government has however, time and again, successfully modified that law. To the Malaysian government, Newton’s 3rd law of motion is also applicable to almost all its policies and initiatives within the political landscape that is unique to the Malaysian one. It is unique because Malaysia and its leaders are special. Not the kind of special that Jose Maurinho proudly ascribe to himself upon his entry to the English Premier League, but well, special nevertheless.

The Malaysian government rewrote that 3rd law thus:

“For every word spoken, there is an equal and absolutely opposite action.”

It is thus without surprise or any sense of irony that the website Sarawak Report has been blocked from access by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, the authority set up by the Malaysian government to regulate and govern, among others, the multimedia industry and usages.
A long time ago, – well, it feels like it was one thousand years ago – when Tun Dr Mahathir launched the Multimedia Super Corridor, he caused the Malaysian government to give a blanket Bill of Guarantee (“BoG”). That BoG, among others, unequivocally and absolutely said that there would not be any internet censorship.

Of course, over the years, like many other promises made by us, that BoG had been amended and changed. Various provisos has been added in order to water it down. It now reads as follows:

“While the Government will not censor the Internet, this does not mean that any person may disseminate illegal content with impunity and without regard to the law. To the extent that any act is illegal in the physical world, it will similarly be outlawed in the online environment. Hence, laws prohibiting dissemination of, for example, indecent / obscene or other illegal materials will continue to apply.

In this regard, relevant ministries and agencies will continue to take appropriate actions and enforce those laws that are under their respective purview.”

The banning of Sarawak Report flies in the face of the literal meaning of that guarantee, a guarantee given to the whole world who wishes to invest in Malaysia in the multimedia sector.

Of course, the MCMC now quotes “national security” and “public order” as the reason for banning Sarawak Report. It says Sarawak Report loves to publish “unverified facts” and that action may affect national security and disrupts public order.

That is laughable.

How many times has this country been invaded by, say, Singapore or Israel as a result of Sarawak Report’s articles? How many times have Malaysians go to the street brandishing parangs and other weapons disrupting public order? How many riots have Sarawak Report caused by its publications of “unverified facts”?

Or was the Low Yat ruckus caused by Sarawak Report’s articles? Or was it an ordinary theft case – yes, thefts have become ordinary in Malaysia – spun out of control by racial supremacists with fertile imagination?

It is amazing that while we move with super-efficient haste against a website that seeks to make the public aware of financial shenanigans within our leadership on “national security” ground, some years ago we allowed Sulu gunmen to invade us, terrorised our villages and citizens, encamped themselves within our territory and later killed 18 of our brave policemen while our then Home Minister was busy with his photo-op with a set of binoculars as his prop! Or was it the other way round? The binoculars was busy with a photo-op with the Minister as a prop?

Quite recently, we were caught unaware with a death camp with mass graves within our borders!
National security you say?

Unverified facts? Slanderous and in fact libelous statements? Our Prime Minister has not been shy to bring court actions against those whom he thinks have defamed him. Why don't the Prime Minister or the whole government sue the pants off of Sarawak Report and its administrators? And perhaps obtain an injunction to stop them from further publishing all these unverified facts?

Or, is the fact that Sarawak Report is based in the United Kingdom got anything to do with the lack of Court action?

By the way, it also does not escape observation that the latest Sarawak Report's allegation - as well as the Wall Street Journal's - has not been effectively nor properly denied. If the facts were unverified, why not deny it in a clear, unequivocal and absolute term? Why hide between jargons and lawyer's letter to seek "explanation"? Deny it and be damn with it. 

Our Prime Minister took pride as the founder of a Global Movement of Moderates, amidst some well written speech, delivered with the supreme talent of an actor in the mould of Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman, in front of an awestruck audience at the United Nation and the august Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

A website of that movement was immediately out up. A CEO and a stable of committees and what haves you were instantly appointed. All bell and whistles. Statements were made. Visions were stated. Logos were made.

At the International Conference on the Global Movement of Moderates (ICGMM), our Prime Minister said:

"Indeed history has shown us the greater civilisation had to overcome greater struggles.

However at this critical juncture of our material progress, although conflicts and clashes persist, the room for dialogue and peaceful co-existence had grown even broader.

 Hence it is imperative that we incorporate a vision of mutual trust based on a mixture of methodical arguments and normative aspirations."

How very lovely of him.

On the website, lofty aspirations were declared. Among others:

“Digital Diplomacy. The advent of ICT/new media makes it possible for diplomacy to be conducted online, widens people participation and exposes the world to new challenges such as cyber war. This necessitates countries to have two kinds of diplomacy: one that is formal and one that is digital.

Democracy and Governance. Conflicts can be avoided if citizens of the world enjoy a certain level of satisfaction that is made possible through the practise of democracy, freedom, human rights and good governance.

Social Cohesion and Inclusive Development. Harmony and prosperity is achieved when there is unity, fairness and equality in citizenship, opportunity and ownership. These are pertinent domestic issues. But foreign policy begins at home.

Youth, Woman and Civil Society. These groups are the most important stakeholders whose expectations are becoming more complex. Issues such as higher education, employment and migration are fast influencing foreign policy. The way forward is to increase their participation in foreign policy decision making.”

This one bears repeating, because it sounds oh-so-nice and good. It makes me cry.

“Democracy and Governance. Conflicts can be avoided if citizens of the world enjoy a certain level of satisfaction that is made possible through the practise of democracy, freedom, human rights and good governance.”

And today what did our great government do? Yes. It bans Sarawak Report.

Laughable. If only it was not so tragic!

In this day and age, our government would do better if it could think why is it that many Malaysians and foreigners choose to believe the “unverified facts” published by Sarawak Report rather than falling for the “verified facts” forced unto the world by those who are entrusted with the job of verifying such facts?

Has that got to do with the immediate witch-hunting by our authorities against those who dare publish and “facts” rather than investigating the wrong-doings that are so apparent from those facts? Yes. We do love to shoot the messengers, don’t we?

Lastly, but by no means the least, in this day and age, only morons and idiots would think that a website and its contents can be effectively blocked.

That is indeed a sad and frightening thought.