Everyone blogs. That is, almost everyone I know, blogs. Somehow rather, everyone has a story to tell. Some unique, while others, not very.
“Why bother sharing ONLY with you, when I can share with THE WORLD,” they told me.
Gone were the days when we rely on our diaries to pen down our deepest thoughts, or hunting down friends to share our ludicrous ideas, in anticipation of moral support. Only to find that our ‘secret’ diary no longer is secret, when an irate sibling forwarded it to a nemesis, to be shared with other nemesises. Or, when ‘the best friend’ does not want to be found, when you needed her most. Nope. No longer.
Now, we have blogs to thank. With the existence of blog technologies, such as, WordPress, Typepad, Blogger, FB, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media too numerous to list, now everyone can blog. If one can’t write long winded blogs (WordPress, Typepad, LiveJournal or Blogger), there are 1-2 liner micro blogging (Twitter, StumbleUpon and the like). Still, if you can’t even write a sentence or two (good for visual right-brainers), there are ofcourse, Instagram or Flickr. Your pictures are your story. Cool, eh?
Hence, I too, must start a blog of my own. (A late bloomer, I know. But better late then never?)
I dubbed thee, my first blog: Dakwat Merah. In Malay, Dakwat Merah means Red Ink. In the Malay culture, words that are highlighted in red ink, denote substance or importance. I know, I know. An ‘F’ is always written in red, but so would, an ‘A’. Then again, a ‘SEE ME’ or “PLEASE REDO’ would also be written in red, so would a ‘GREAT JOB’. Yup, Red Ink is just purrfect for me.
I was about to start my very first log entry, when the following questions popped up in WordPress’s Step 6, create your first post:
“If you were suddenly independently wealthy, how would you spend your time? What positive change would you bring to the world?”
These are two interesting questions, almost as good as Facebook’s one-liner, ‘What’s on your mind?” (I still prefer Facebook’s tho’. Straight to the point, in a single line. Almost sounds like a jingle.)
What positive change would you like to bring to the world? I have always asked myself the same question. Well, almost the same question. Now, I realize that I haven’t been very ambitious.
All the while, I have been asking myself, “What positive change would you like to bring to your country?” I couldn’t possibly think of changing the world, if I couldn’t even change my country. And how could I possibly do that (be the stimulus of change in my own country), if I couldn’t even change my community?
My community. To bring factual news to my community, that was my goal. I have, but one problem. The Malaysian government recently passed an amendment to its already draconian internet law, the Multimedia Act 2012 (Amendment). This law, unfortunately passed through both Parliment and Senate, is seen by many, to purposely control dissenting public voices via the internet.
During the 2008 election, the current Barisan Nasional (BN) Government lost five states to the opposition (its worst ever performance in its 55-year rule), thanks to the internet. The Malaysian Government then, could not and did not visualize the power of the net, when the majority of its current voters, did not even have computers at home. Hence, limiting their access to external news. These unfortunate masses had to depend solely on government (party)-controlled newspapers as the primary source of news.
The more educated members of the Malaysian public, i.e., the professionals, urban dwellers and many non-Malays, on the other hand, have international news at their fingertips. These are the very same group that caused the Barisan Nasional Government’s 2008 fall from grace. Well, almost.
According to the new Malaysian Multimedia Act 2012, the government have the right to raid a person’s home and consficate his electronic gadgetries (mobile phones, laptops, computers, tablets, etc), should his/her website or blog discusses matters deemed sensitive to the government or publish ‘untrue’ stories which tarnishes the government’s reputation. ‘Untrue stories’ which put a dent to the Barisan Nasional‘s government’s reputation, are considered treason and subject to hefty fine, imprisonment, or worst still, imprison-without-trial under ISA. The most upsetting and intriguing fact about this infamous Act is the fact that, the burden of proof is placed on the website holder to prove that such posting (libelious or detrimental to the government) didn’t actually come from the blogger.
In Malaysia, bloggers are risk takers. None knows more about taking risk, than the Royal Risk Taker himself, i.e., Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) did a wonderful article on RPK’s plight. (Click here to read RPK’s Royal Risk Taker Story).
Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) is a member of the Malaysian royalty, was very vocal (actually, now even more so) against the government. He was thrown in Kamunting Detention Center, under ISA, on the pretext of ‘attempting to overthrow the government of the day’ via his outspoken blog. Twice.
Today, at 62, he still regularly writes and contributes in his extremely popular political news blog, MalaysiaToday. Through his blogs, readers get a glimpse of an insider (now outsider) to Malaysian’s politics. So, how did he get away with writing so many controversial (even detrimental) news about the Malaysian Barisan Nasional government? By writing from London. Ouh, Manchester, United Kingdom, actually.
Yet another outspoken blogger who is worthy of mention is Bakri Musa, who is a successful Malaysian-born surgeon, currently working in California, USA. Dr Bakri’s blog touches many infamous policies, implemented by the BN government, which if met with even slight improvement can yield far better result from that of today. Amongst the topics discussed was the dismal condition of the Malaysian education system. According to Dr Bakri, Malaysia’s Education Ministers, while championing a reform in the country’s education system, prefer to send their children abroad.
In reality, Malaysians—particularly BN’s party members—do not take kindly to dissenting views. Anyone who shows a dislike to (or fail to glorify) the government’s policies would be branded as, ‘an agent’ working for the opposition party. And anyone who is branded as pro-opposition will less likely get ANY government jobs and projects, nor welcome to use government-initiated facilities. Really? Really!
The ‘government’ is of the opinion that everything it creates (even though using public money, some of which may come from the opposition), belongs to the government. Hence, the public needs to be grateful to its ‘kindness’.
“Rakyat perlu bersyukur kerana (disebabkan kerajaan), negara menikmati kemakmuran (Read: The people must be grateful to the government, without whom, the country will not achieve peace and prosperity),” insisted the propaganda-prone media (government-run television, newspapers, magazines, radio, booklets, etc), often times, keep repeating themselves.
Then, whenever party leaders are invited to officiate school functions or during cash-handouts to the poor, the same line would be repeated, again and again. Repeatedly. Day after day. Year after year. Such campaign has been working, for the last 55 years!
Suddenly, in 2008, a miracle happened. (To be continued).