Monday, October 06, 2008

The ISA and Sedition Act on Bloggers

A few weeks ago, I received a surprise email interview with a reporter from The Star. There were several other bloggers interviewed too, I am sure.

I don't think the article was passed by the Editor to be published, not too sure on that but I shall respect any confidentiality concerned.

Recent events have caused bloggers to gain a lot of attention. I personally would say that RPK, Bakaq and Kickdefella just got themselves free publicity and advertising.

Their webpages are as good as any mainstream media's now. Also, after returning from my Sydney trip and being Internet deprived, I read about a blogger getting into the spotlight for her remarks on Indians.

Allow me to post some of my replies to the interview here as they are related to bloggers, ISA and the Sedition Act.

Recent arrests on bloggers
... As for the arrests, I have to agree with Datuk Husam Musa's official statement that RPK's Islamic claims should be countered with arguments from JAKIM or the many Muslim scholars in Malaysia. ...

As the saying goes, "hujah lawan hujah". It will also provide the Islamic community and the Government agencies an opportunity to enter "cyber politics". ...

The use of ISA and Sedition Act on bloggers
... The ISA and Sedition Act on bloggers are necessary because the term "bloggers" can include a vast range of areas.

If a blogger uses blogs to inject terrorist values into the people or if the bloggers write things that can hurt race relations in Malaysia, will it not be good for our country to arrest these bloggers?

However, I have to say that the ISA should be amended where evidences need to be presented in Court to convict the blogger of his or her charges.

Some might argue that bloggers can self regulate but that will not be ideal for now. It seems like there is a rush into the blogosphere and everyone is saying everything under the sky.

The Government needs to intervene partially. To be fair, bloggers arrested should be presented in Court where the blogger can be officially charged and allowed to defend himself or herself.

That can only happen if the ISA and Sedition Act is reviewed and amended. At that time, I believe the blogosphere will not label these laws as "draconian".

So far, the arrests are termed as "politically motivated" in the blogosphere and that is why bloggers are unhappy.

If the law focusses on genuine threats to national security and harmony from blogging activities in the blogosphere, then the Government has my support with the condition that the detainees will be allowed to appear in Court. ...

We always compare our Government's admin and economy with Singapore. The truth is, should we not considere Singapore's dynasty system of the Lee family? Democracy appears on the surface of Singapore.

But the ocean deep truth is that Singapore's Government is handed over one generation to another within the circle of family and cronies.

Or should I even be harsher to say the Imperial Household of the Lee family?

Singapore monitors the blogosphere. They have tight rules on blogging. Yet, many Malaysians adore Singapore and slam Malaysia.

If we adore Singapore so much and praise their good governance, I have to say - WELL DONE MALAYSIA ! Because we at least modelled Singapore in governance of the society and the blogosphere !

I will comment on the Malaysia - Singapore hard facts later. For now, everyone has misunderstood the meaning of bloggers. Bloggers are not just an alternative entity to communicate with the world or perform as an alternative media.

Blogs cover a lot of areas like food, politics, personal life, media and many more. Bloggers can also instill extremist values and spread their ideologies among their readers.

Bloggers can also be a threat to national security. If there are insiders of the Government who provide bloggers documents that are protected by the Official Secrets Act, these events will be no different than selling the secrets of the Government to the whole world.

These will undermine the efforts of the Government be it in governance, trade talks, security matters, policy formulation and many more. A new form of espionage?

Nevertheless, we all can understand something. Most of Malaysia's bloggers are Socio-Political bloggers as listed in SoPo Sentral. That is why the Malaysian public and the blogosphere are slamming the Government.

In actual fact, a newly amended ISA and the Sedition Act can and should be an enforcement tool for bloggers, as long as they are not politically motivated and the enforcement focuses on genuine threats to national security and harmony.

This of course, will have my support if the Government allows the detained bloggers to appear in Court and answer there under Oath.

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