May 22, 2007

What's wrong with our Information Minister?

So what's wrong with Bloggers in Malaysia?

KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 (Bernama) -- Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin Tuesday reminded bloggers of their responsibilities in maintaining harmony among Malaysia's multiracial society.

He said bloggers, being the so-called "citizen journalists", must not abuse the freedom given by the government and must be responsible in their writings and actions so as not to jeopardise the unity among the people.

"We do not consider them (bloggers) as a threat but we do not want to return to the era where we depend on rumours (for news)," he told reporters after launching the Malaysian Press Institute's (MPI) new logo here today.

The minister also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between MPI and Thomson Foundation, through which both organisations cooperate in organising courses for local and foreign journalists.

MPI was represented by its acting chairman, Datuk Chamil Wariya and Thomson Foundation by its head of regional partnerships, Russel Lyne.

Earlier in his speech, Zainuddin said media practitioners and bloggers had their own roles in developing the nation through their writings.

For that, he said, they must respect the status quo of the social contract which became the pillar of this nation.

"Lately, I found that most of the (political) bloggers have the tendency to question the basis of the social contract which had been agreed upon by our forefathers," he said.

Zainuddin said that about 20,000 out of the 11 million Internet users in the country were actively involved in political blogs.

Earlier there was this report from MalaysiaKini :

Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin has criticised the press for highlighting racial issues which could cause ethnic division across the country.

"To me, press freedom cannot go beyond the time-tested social contract," Zainuddin said, referring to an agreement made by the country's founding fathers in the federal constitution.

Under the social contract, citizenship was given to non-Malays - mainly minority Chinese and Indian populations - while the majority bumiputras made up of Malays and indigenous groups, retained special rights and privileges.

May 13 book

Zainuddin pointed the finger at certain media groups for questioning the social contract, at the risk of disrupting racial unity which he said "must be maintained at all costs."

Zainuddin also criticised a controversial book on the deadly 1969 race riots saying it would only arouse anxiety among Malaysians.

While the country has largely maintained peaceful ties between multi-ethnic groups, tensions are rising among non-Malay Muslims, who feel their rights are being undermined.

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1 comment:

SP said...

Malaysia's Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin is increasingly showing himself to be irrelevant. His self-proclaimed credentials as a journalist committed to his craft, has been debunked a long time ago. Even the mainstream newspapers are fast losing patience with this dinosaur. It is a wonder that he is still in the limelight, hogging precious newspaper space, to spew his dribble against anyone who dares to have an alternative point from the offical government line.

Just weeks after raising the alarm that bloggers are doing immeasurable damage to the nation's unity, Zainuddin now says that political bloggers only make up 20,000 of the 11 million Internet users in the country, and hence only a few people read blogs. Then why is he worried? Why the contradictory stance? Why is UMNO anxious about sites like Malaysiakini, Malaysia-Today, Screenshots? Malaysia-Today claims it gets daily hits of more than 2 million. I am sure that type of figure drowns out any imaginary numbers his TV stations can muster.

China, the rising world power, has been unable to effectively filter the Internet. Zam, as he is more inclined to be called, thinks he can - by shouting threats at an increasingly sophisticated urban populace. He has warned them that their writing is a threat to "national unity". If thinking aloud and producing analysis is a threat to the nation, then one must wonder if he is really talking about bloggers being a threat to UMNO. His McCarthystic behaviour in demonising ordinary citizens who happen to have a point of view about Malaysia is truly disturbing.

Where are we as a nation want to go? Does the government want this country to develop wings and fly or do they want the people to be forever docile, secure in the bosom of UMNO? Even if that means that this country becomes an insecure nation afraid of its own shadows, riven by racial suspicion for eternity?

What I have read about Zam demonstrated an anachronistic world view which swims in Zam's brain. The sad thing is that he is proud of his world view. I suppose when one is in the throes of power, and wishes to please his master, that's what people do. In any case, such behaviour has proven to be well-rewarding for many Ministers in our nation's esteemed cabinet. But I do hope that the Prime Minister loses patience with this Information Minister and drops him in the next Cabinet reshuffle