Wednesday 24 September 2008

"Lock up the bloggers"

Further to yesterday's post about Euro MPs looking to ban troublesome Eurobloggers, vocal Malaysian blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin was locked up this morning for two years in a high security prison as, according to the Malaysian Home Minister "police had found concrete evidence that his postings in the Malaysia Today blogsite were prejudicial to the security of the country." Malaysian blogger Rocky Bru has background [hat tip Lady Lavender, who points out even Malaysia's draconian Internal Security Act (which allows detention without trial) does not deter blogcitizens from lambasting the ruling Malay party - "once a sacred subject no one is allowed to criticise."]

Don't be complacent. Politicians really dislike criticism, and if they can close it down, they will. Or try to.

The Hive asks what the New Zealand government is doing about this. Whale Oil answers: "They are reviewing broadcasting and web rules."

NB: Sign the petition to free Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Teresa Kok and Others Held Under Malaysia's Internal Security Act.

UPDATE 1: Since so many worldwide appear wholly unfamiliar with the concept of free speech, except in the breach, might I humbly suggest they begin their understanding of this basic pillar of freedom with this post on Some Propositions on Free Speech, which lays out the legitimate moral parameters of free speech.

UPDATE 2: Welcome Rocky's Bru readers. Feel free to stick around and, in particular, to check out all the posts here ast NOT PC on Free Speech and Sedition. Perhaps I could invite you to begin with this 'Cue Card Libertarianism' post on Persuasion versus Force.

UPDATE 3:  Contemplate these thoughts:

Forcing people to bite their tongues produces only a "veneer of tolerance concealing a snakepit of unaired and unchallenged views."
- Rowan Atkinson

It's now very common to hear people say, "I'm rather offended by that", as if that gives them certain rights. It's no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. "I'm offended by that." Well, so fucking what?
- Stephen Fry

What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.
- Salman Rushdie

UPDATE 4:  How often when the rubber hits the road do we discover who really has the courage of their convictions.  'The People's Parliament' wonders whether RPK was emboldened by reading too much into all thee declarations of support from his readers -- support that seems to be withering on the vine now he's in detention.

    And reading too much, he asked of the millions of MT readers for 150,000 signatures for the petition to the Agong in relation to the judiciary, and got 25,700++*?
What could we all possibly have meant by these declarations of solidarity and support if the petition demanding his release from ISA detention, now four days old, has garnered 20,463 signatures?
Just what do we mean [by "support"]?

What sort of "support" is it that people demonstrate when even something as simple as signing an online petition is too much!  Let them hear the words of liberated American slave, Frederick Douglass:

    The whole history of progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
    This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
--Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)

* As of 10pm Friday morning 26/6/08 NZ time, the petition stands at 29,112 signatures.


WWallace said...

I asked my ex-Malaysian work colleague if he knew anything about this situation. To my amazement, he said that it is big news in Malaysia right now, and that he used to live "directly across the road from that guy!"

I endorse this petition.

Anonymous said...

Well NZ needs to ban a whole bunch of blogs, starting with the Standard!

but if this blogger is against socialism and Labour, then that's all good.

Anonymous said...

It was interesting that ACT scored so highly on the TV7 Internet debate last night (I think they won). What that tells me is that when it comes to the internet, freedom is all people have ever known, and they don't want to lose it. Yet, when it comes to everything else, they lost their freedoms so long ago that they can't conceive of it being any different. If they could, ACT and the Libertarians would win on Election Day and could get on with the business of chopping down the size of government.

Anonymous said...

Dude, Freedom of Speech is OK,
The malaysian blogger might have been jailed for political reasons, but his blog indeed was seditious, having ridiculed and defamed a lot of well respected people - he used his blog to tear down anyone he didnt like. An in a day someone's reputation is all gone, in tatters.
IT would have been okay had he only restricted to criticism of policies or system, but he got involved in personal attacks, attacking personalities and individuals with half truths and fake allegations which he had no way to prove. He also spilled beans of racial tension and very manipulative in moderating comments on his website.

When you go to his blog, you get one view only, which one may tend to generalise from the comments that follow up each of his post.

But when you hit ex-PM Mahathir's website ( equally popular, you look at 100s of comments which give you a very different and opposing views than those on RPK's blog.

"Your Freedom stops where my Nose begins" - Thus bloggers should not invade people, and get involved in personal attacks and beating racial and religious sentiments. That is blatant abuse of Blogs and media.

Anonymous said...

I know RPK personally and for what he has done, he deserves ISA !!

Freedom of speech does not mean you can say anything you like.

ISA to stay in Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said

"Freedom of speech does not mean you can say anything you like".

That IS exactly what it means.

If someone slanders you by spreading untruths, take them to court and sue for damages.

If you don't agree with what a blogger publishes, don't visit the site.

The blogosphere is the one last media that is not controlled/regulated by Governments and they hate it.

Peter Cresswell said...

"Freedom of speech does not mean you can say anything you like."

Well, yes it does. Since you need a lesson in free speech, check out these basic propositions on free speech.

You should find them illuminating.

You will find, for example, that unless you have the right to offend others, then you have no freedom of speech.

And I note that you take advantage of this freedom yourself, in praising the jailing of someone for nothing more than expressing his views, when it's one you would like to restrict for others.

How do you spell hypocrite in your language, mate?

Peter Cresswell said...

Oops, let me try again:
Since you need a lesson in free speech, check out these basic propositions on free speech.

You should find them illuminating.

Peter Cresswell said...

Malim, the argument is not about whether or not RPK offended people, it's whether he did anything worth two years in a high-security prison.

If his only crime is offending the wrong people, which is how it looks to many of us, then they look like people who need to be offended against. A lot.

If what you say is true, and he "defamed" people outrageously, then perhaps you can point me to the case before an independent court in which he was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of such "defamation," and explain to me why and where the law prescribes jail for such an offence?

Because you can't.

And perhaps you could then explain why laws against "sedition" are necessary, and how a blogger could fall foul of such laws to the extent that he deserves to be awarded two years in a high-security prison?

Because there is no argument that they are, or that he does.

And perhaps, too, since you seem to think the crimes of "spilling beans," "moderating comments" and being "one-sided" deserve two years in jail, you can point me to where this is prescribed as the sentence for these crimes? And tell me how such a sentence would uphold an individual's right to free speech, which you say is "OK" in Malaysia.

And then perhaps you could reflect that, quite frankly, if a political blogger isn't attacking the government, "spilling beans," ridiculing and defaming, then he's not really doing his job.

And finally, you might look at yourself in the mirror and realise you're an apologist for evil.

Freedom of Speech is clearly NOT OK in Malaysia, and as long as you and others like you are unable to distinguish between talk and "invad[ing] people," I suspect it will continue to be NOT OK.

wotageek said...

My dear Malim...

Oh please, if RPK was seditious, than we need to throw a whole bunch of UMNO politicians in jail as well.

A good recent example would be Ahmad Ismail, but he has been excused from arrest on the lame excuse that he has already been 'punished' by being suspended from UMNO. The idiocy of that statement by the Home Minister boggles the mind.

Fact is you CANNOT throw anyone into jail for slander. You can sue them in court for damages and force them to prove their allegations, but using a draconian security law on them is nothing short of tyrannical.

Besides, do you really think any intelligent Malaysian believes Najib to be innocent in the Altantuya case? All the circumstances of the case reek of cover-ups that involve the highest levels in government, and Najib is the only Minister (of DEFENCE at that, C4 anyone?) who has any sort of connection to the case. There might not be any proof (because of the cover-ups), but you have to be really naive or brainwashed to believe Najib when he says he's not involved in any way.

RPK was merely expressing what a good deal of Malaysians commonly believe anyway - that our deputy PM is guilty in some way of the murder of Altantuya. A good number of them even expressed their opinions in their own blogs. It just so happens that RPK's is the most popular.

lauyee said...

A well said post PC, how could I not reply and stick around after reading the Note 2 :) Yes I'm redirected here from Rocky's Bru blog

Unknown said...

I think many readers of this blog would not be able to fathom the situation in Mlaysia. The ISA -Internal Security Act- under which Raja Kamaruddin Petra was incarcerated is clearly an evil law. The act allows for the Home Minister to send anybody to jail for two years without trial or any charges being brought against the person. This two years can be extended indefinitely. There is no procedure available to challenge the decision of the Minister. The prisioner has no way to defend himself against the accusation. In fact he need not be informed of the reason for his incarceration.

Now, can you imagine a more terrible law that can be used against citizens? I think even "enemy combatants" in Guantanamo Bay gets a better deal.

I am shocked bu some of the comments supporting the use of the ISA on RPK. I can only hope that they do not realize the actual implications of the act.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed how supposedly educated people hide behind "Freedom of Speech" as an excuse to say anything they want to say regardless of the consequences. That is simply irresponsible. I am not OK with Freedom of Speech as long as it is being abused by people like RPK.

Anonymous said...

Freedom of speech means you can say whatever you like about anyone or anything whether it's true or not because you can get away with it. Try it!

Anonymous said...

"I'm amazed how supposedly educated people hide behind "Freedom of Speech" as an excuse to say anything they want to say regardless of the consequences. That is simply irresponsible. I am not OK with Freedom of Speech as long as it is being abused by people like RPK."

I am amazed how a supposedly educated person fails to see the obvious contradiction in their argument.

Why is it irresponsible? How do we know it is being "abused" and who decides? Why should people's conduct be exempt from criticism, personal or not?

Anonymous, (scared the Govt might find out who you are??)try to understand that you and everyone who thinks like you are the willing accomplices of the Police State.

Every time the Malaysian Govt has someone thrown behind bars illegally, has someone tortured, every person who "disappears", you sanction their action.

I do not know this RPK chap. Perhaps he is odious, offensive, a racist and a liar. Perhaps I would disagree with everything he says. But we must defend his right to say it.

Free RPK.

Anonymous said...

Great of you to take an interest in a fellow blogger from Malaysia.

As you can see from the comments here, the issue with Malaysian blogoshpere and attending web activists is this endless tirade of 'free speech' vs 'ISA'.

Whether Malaysia's Internal Security Act is an obstacle to free speech is not these shouting parties / commentaries have thought about.

How I wish being a bleeding heart liberal substituting logical thinking is the solution.

Unfortunately, it isn't. And after returning home recently, I'm surprised the country and its citizens hasn't developed since I left about 20 years ago - mentally, not physically.

So, please keep going for free speech on the web, but I assure you ISA is not the obstacle these comments has made it out to be (as I argued in my post:


Anonymous said...

Looks like the UMNO cyberactivists are spreading their work.

Sure, they are welcome to post their comments but sensible people should have the same space to rebutt their statements.

Unfortunately, RPK did not get this privilege. He was looking forward to his day in a Court of Law. But the Government would not have any of it. They locked him up to silence his day in court.

That says a great deal about the same people trying to sue him or charge him with criminal defamation. It simply means that they do not expect to win and, at the same time, have all their dirty laundry aired for the world to see.

ISA keeps him bundled up and none of the dirty laundry is expected to surface. Anyway, that is what UMNO hopes.

Be sure, that at the right time, the dirty laundry will surface and displayed in all its glory. RPK has already seen to that, I am very sure.