Uprising of civil society?

Posted: July 27, 2007 in Blogging and Democracy, Freedom of Speech, Malaysian Blogosphere

Could this mark the beginning of a new civil society in Malaysia? With the constant oppression felt by the Malaysian Blogosphere in light of threats, intimidation by the government to suppress the freedom of blogs which began in 2004 continues to grow into 2007 with more power. Names like Jeff Ooi, Rocky bru, Nat Tan and Raja Petra of Malaysia Today has been constantly floating around our blogosphere in regard to the freedom of Speech. These bloggers have even had the privileges or some might consider a curse to be splattered on the headlines of mainstream newspapers of course news on the mainstream was carefully manipulated to suit their whim and fancies.

Early this year, Rocky Bru and Jeff Ooi’s case garnered attention from all sorts of people from NGO groups to Human Right activists even created such an impression that even the non-political blogs started to air out issues concerning these two bloggers and call for freedom of speech when they were sued by NSTP.In early July, Nat’s disappearance first and then detention got the blogosphere going wild with blogger linking one story after another, creating online petitions, gathering of supporters close to detention areas, calling for vigils to be held etc. In Petra’s case for instance, despite him only being summoned many people including reporters waited patiently outside probably as a gesture of support and currently the blogosphere has been filled with postings by many different kinds of bloggers concerning this issue.

Could this be considered as an uprising of civil society or does this revolve around bloggers only at the end of the day? Do other people other there even care what happens to bloggers?Today a post by the Malaysian Bar carried information concerning this issue itself, they called for lawyers to take part in the light of the potential threat dished out to bloggers in terms of the usage of repressive laws such as ISA . They actually came forward to help out in the area of freedom of expression.

Wither free speech? – Lawyers Needed! Bloggers under threat in Malaysia
For the full article: http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/content/view/10083/226/

From the looks of it, bloggers do not remain alone in the fight for freedom of speech. Different parties (not necessarily political) have stood up or voiced out their concerns over the issues of freedom. Is this a sign of more good to come? Well a few years a go, not many people knew about the blogosphere especially those who are not so politically inclined but thanks to the mainstream media’s coverage and the stupidity of officials in detaining the likes of bloggers (which is highly uncalled for)the awareness of such a thing called blogs has risen and continues to create curiosity among people. As a result of all cases like Nat and Petra, the government has gone into a might campaign to eliminate and destroy the influence of the blogosphere and bloggers themselves. The cybersphere does not operate in the same where other spheres do, something that they still can’t comprehend. Usually to eliminate the influence of certain issues that are hot they would eliminate the “boss”, the leader so that once the leader role diminishes through enforcement of law etc, some will lari lintang pukang and the rest will revolt. But in the cybersphere things are quite different, if one blog goes down or is under attack, many more can go up and many will come to their rescue despite their political, personal inclinations which is in a way great. I belief that the blogosphere has brought people together, I might not follow or stomach your opinions on certain issues but we all stand under one umbrella and fight for one thing, freedom of speech which throw over all under boundaries. With the greatness of hyperlinking, it catches fire and like speed of lightning the news is out and constantly spreading.

As things get out of hand due to the massive spread of news the government tries to control its hold on the issue with continuing its intimidation through threat to introduce repressive laws(not we don’t have enough already), idiotic comments by ministers and representatives from political parties. Its becoming quite hot as news spreads beyond the Malaysian sphere, toppling over the international waters. Spotting news of Malaysia in Australia, U.K and even the U.States becoming the source of entertainment for the world to see, a laughing stock. Yet the government still doesn’t realize and keeps using we are Malaysia we do things differently, …Malaysia Boleh?? You certainly can’t use Malaysia Boleh for everything you know? Torture citizens, Suppress their rights, Detain as they like etc..Malaysia Boleh? Or Kerajaan Boleh? But in a way despite the idiosyncrasies that we Malaysian have to deal with, I belief that there is some good to come out of all this, I belief that the world and most importantly our own ‘rakyat’, the pakcik, the makcik…the children..our teenagers are starting to get awareness no matter how small the influence is, the fact is its beginning….. Who knows how it will end-up? My hope is that society on the whole will become empowered to use the information but empowerment can only come if they use the information as a scholar once said’,

Those who have the authority to information may better exert power if well informed yet those who are well informed(and productive secrecy restricts access to information for those who cannot use the privilege circuits) may not neccesarily become empowered because of the information they possess”(are not enabled, just because of this to decide and extert power)

(Cesareo, 1992)

As information is definitely power but if access to information is restricted or not fully represent it will only be the case of surface participation and any desire to develop democracy will be static. Furthermore even if information is at hand and it is not use to empower one’s self or society it will continue to remain static.

  1. […] I mentioned in my earlier blog posting ,Uprising of civil society?there could be a rise of civil society as we speak. I can’t help but be optimist despite the […]

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