Copyright Notice

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author, at the address below.

Sakmongkol ak 47

Sunday 9 August 2009

Censoring Rais.

Rais Yatim wanted to impose censorship of the internet. He used the argument of protecting the public's morality as his main reasoning. In doing so, he comes out from a position of believing his is of higher scruples. He says he is targeting child pornography and porno in general.

PM Najib immediately came out with a statement that the government does not intend to do anything of that sort. Rais's plan was short-circuited.

What has Rais done? By saying what he did, he has shown to us, despite his cultivated cosmopolitanism, he is conservative in thoughts and falls back on the easy route- when in doubt, use force. Using coercion in the age of reason seems a discordant position to take. He therefore places himself at odds with the libertarianism of the PM. That makes him, an oddball in the emerging leadership thinking of the PM. I wouldn't be surprised come the next cabinet reshuffle, Rais will ride into the sunshine.

I shall not dwell into the arguments on whether the internet ought to be censored or not. I do hope it is sufficient for me to state at this juncture that the internet is the last frontier, where the ordinary man can exercise almost complete democracy. Rais yatim plans to take that away, first by imposing state morality on us.

The way Rais Yatim conducts himself would have qualified him as a cabinet member during President Roosevelt's New Deal days in the 1930's. His answer to all ills is to the blame it on the free market competitive capitalism. That justifies further and enlarged role of the government. Can the government become our father and mother? Can it replace the family unit as the incubator of desirable values?

The language may have changed but the main idea hasn't. The main idea is the government has to intervene in the cause of public interest. This contradicts the declaration of the PM that the age where government knows best is over. The government decides what is good and what isn't for society. The welfare of society depends on benevolent do-gooders like himself of course.

Rai's yatim's intended action over the internet mirrors policy maker's response to economic depression. During the depression of 1930's for example, the recession was blamed on the greed of rapacious and evil businessmen. To overcome that, the answer is for more direct government involvement, more command and control over economic direction. The whole thing is blamed on the failure of the capitalist system. This can be overcome, it was insisted by central planning and command centre control economics.

Although we see the crude way of controlling the economy through central planning commissars and nationalising industries have been largely discredited, the tentacles of command centre control economics are still evident. They take the form of regulations, quota, licenses and a list of sanctions here and there.

The same tactics are employed in areas other than economics. In the media industry for example. Yellow culture and whatever the term incorporates is the result of the free market system. Freedom of ideas and speech must be curtailed. Nowadays the language has changed but the desire to control others remained lurking behind even within the minds of supposed liberals and intellectuals. Rais blames the evils of the internet on the climate of permissiveness. That too is a product of the free market system. To overcome this, Rais says, the government must censor the internet.

Rais yatim will do anything to upstage anyone to impress the boss. As lord over what news reaches the masses, he says, the government is considering filtering the net. That means censorship of the internet. This of course means we intend to use more taxpayer's money to do something which the people themselves can do.

There is a more insidious plan here. Rais may be aware or oblivious to this. Any enlargement of the powers of the government that it already has a lot of will mean the monopolisation of news media. Censorship of the internet must be opposed because of one fundamental principle and reason. It is the last free frontier for alternative viewpoints.

We already have much curtailment on news. The defence minister recently stated that the only news which is ethically written is done by the MSM. Students overseas are encouraged to distance themselves from what are written in the blogs. They should instead concentrate on reading the MSM papers.

In this country, media is dominated by the people operating from Jalan Riong or Jalan Chan Sow Lin and wherever the TV stations operate from. There is already a sufficiently large collection of 'ethical' media producers able to churn our sanitised information to be lapped up by anyone who cares to read or listen and watch. We already have a situation where most of the media is owned by a small number of corporations. There is massive control on what we are able to see in mainstream media, and particularly in terms of the diversity of news viewpoints available to us.

The internet is the last free frontier. At present the internet actually affects news stories by providing dissonant information and infinite viewpoints. Once you censor the internet there's nowhere left to get information. It's all owned and then what we know of the world is controlled by its owners.

Once it gets started, there may be no stopping it.

Rais Yatim may prove to be just a lazy thinker. Defending the freedom of the internet requires indirect and subtle reasoning. It's easier to rule with an iron fist imposing 'our' morality on others. Indeed, there are some things that definitely SHOULD be censured, but that should not be an excuse justifying people to stop Thinking - least of all government-related organizations. For example, where is the desirable process of sorting the wheat from the chaff? Why must it become an "all or nothing" proposition? They either open the flood-gates all the way or leave them sealed shut. There is no such thing anymore as calculating the right amount of water to let out and then carefully measuring it.

As someone said, once it is accepted, it can and will be the basis for further incursions. First, we censure sexually explicit material as Rais has said. Then, the mosques exert pressure to censure anything about non-Muslim spirituality Of course, the medical and pharmaceutical mega-monopolies will want to censure anything about alternative medicine and cures then, we will probably see any and every kind of minority wanting to censure anything that is not "politically correct". The parade of special interests with their special agendas for censorship will parade across the internet like a swarm of army ants on the march through the Amazon jungles - and will leave the internet just about as bare, in its wake, too!

We are facing the contradictory nature of society's twin attitudes to the Internet; On the one hand it is seen as the cure to all of societies problems - not only is it expected to provide new jobs and solve economic problems but also we are told that it can provide solutions to social exclusion and now the digital divide; On the other hand it is seen as highly problematic - it is commonly supposed to be awash with pornography and to provide a home for racists and pedophiles and recently fears have been flamed that it is the place best suited for terrorist to ply their trade.

Should we censor the Internet? Before the internet age, I thought all these things were already in existent. Linda Lovelace was infamous or famous long before the internet age. She deep-throated herself into the pubescent minds of the public, censor or no censor. The industry, in which she was famous for, thrived despite censor.


Unknown 9 August 2009 at 19:47  


This and other constant conflicting statements made by DS Najib and his cabinet members appears to be symptomatic of a Cabinet devoid of a unified voice.

If this is how the country is going to be run, it will be no better than what is happening in the opposition now....

ABC 9 August 2009 at 19:52  

"At present the internet actually affects news stories by providing dissonant information and infinite viewpoints. Once you censor the internet there's nowhere left to get information. It's all owned and then what we know of the world is controlled by its owners."

Wow, tok sak, out of this world, your arguments.
the funny thing was, after the hoo-haa, MCMC came out quickly with a statement saying parents should control their kids using much-available filter software. ie the answers are there already! no need to put the govt in bad light around the world with an Orwellian control mechanism.
kadang-kadang nak tolong and defend 'garmen' pun susah when they do these kinds of things.
if cabinet ministers watched West Wing, they could learn a lot about how to handle communications with the public. sigh.

nightcaller 10 August 2009 at 05:49  


You go straight for the throat when it comes to Rais and I think that's a good move. Rais is proving time and time again that he is an embarassment to Najib with his constant statements on internet censorship.

If he is a pain that BN cannot live without, Najib should consider posting him on ambassadorial job somewhere, of course not Timbuktu...what about UN? There he can either spar with JJ or watched over by JJ's hawkish eye...moral of the story - remove Rais from mainstream decision making board for the good of BN.

msleepyhead,  10 August 2009 at 09:00  


It's not so much different from the opposition's recent call for the ban of alcohol sale in stores in Muslim majority areas.

Like you previously wrote, they are trying to legislate their way into social conditioning. Which also links to your article about dependence on government, if there truly are problems, be it alcoholism, pornography, unwed mothers, etc.

Why on earth are still the affected community and its leaders (not politicians) not doing anything about it? Surely the cabinet does not need to play the board of prefects at high school as well.

Fairplay,  10 August 2009 at 09:59  

Right on, Dato'! Kudos to PM and perhaps he should retire the 'dinosaur' Rais. Let us at least have the freedom to THINK for ourselves!

Suci Dalam Debu 10 August 2009 at 10:10  


Thank you for calling a spade a spade.
Sad to say Rais is not alone. The majority of our ministers and leaders in BN always try to second-guess and say what they think the PM likes to hear.

Unfortunately, this is an art also practiced by Najib himself during the Badawi era.

Be a Kaki Bodek is the name of the game. In fact the only way to get ahead in Bolehland.

Mahathir promised no internet censorship. His Bersih Cekap Amanah turned out to be the opposite. Malaysia Boleh became Boleh in the wrong things. Islam Hadhari is buried together with Abdullah. Now 1Malaysia is everywhere.

Wonder what would be the battle cry of the next PM?

Why don't we just STOP all these nonsense. Isn't Selamat Pagi good enough? Why must we divide (subtle) with a Ass'lum and Salam Sejahtera to God-knows-what in the future? If PM is serious, just go back to the old way, Selamat Pagi, Petang ....

Finally, yes, Linda Lovelace was famous without the internet.

kevinlow 10 August 2009 at 10:27  

AN oxymoron: "lazy thinker"? Is there such a term? I'd always thought lazy peole don't think at all.

Anonymous,  10 August 2009 at 10:54  

For Rais, it's just a job just like grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand, he shuts mind (by feeding what news to hear or see).

The Ministry of Information combines two of the nation's greatest evils i.e. information and bad programme shows.

People who are unappreciative of the information on the internet and does bad programming of shows should be shown the bridge they purportedly burnt.

Even if he wants to control information, Allah has this to say in Surah 4:87, that He will gather us together against the Day of Judgment, on which His words are the truest.

So what ever baloney controls you put in to impose consorship it will not materialise as His is the ultimate source of correct information. What we can do is to decipher with our own God given brains what is good or otherwise.


Unknown 10 August 2009 at 11:30  

You listen to Rais talk nonsense in the age of 21st century.

He is iron fist in a golden glove, udang sebalik batu.

He said children see porno. My children never see porno. I never say, "Son don't see porn in the internet!"555

Ariff Sabri 10 August 2009 at 12:59  

it is unfortunate that DS Najib has to work with material inherited. i am sure changes will take place soon.
thank you rem. your own analyses on many issues are equally convincing and precise. i like your business-like approach.
nightcaller- rais may have exhausted his repertoire at self preservation.

Anonymous,  10 August 2009 at 14:47  

Copied from Patrick Teoh's Niamah.

Pay special attention to segment 2:30 to 2:45. Watch his body language. His sneer. His venom. This is the man who is our country's minister of information, communication and CULTURE. After watching the video I think he fails miserably in all 3 portfolios.

walla 10 August 2009 at 20:14  

A: 'He may be well-meaning, B.'

B: 'But surely you can agree he was neither informative nor communicational nor cultured about it.'

A: 'Put it down to age and a sense of frustration. Maybe he has the statistics or have seen the effects of smut on young minds in other countries.

It's like the other guy who wanted to ban beer from being sold at seven-elevens.'

B: 'You're hinting something else, A, perhaps the Thomas Fleming postulate that there is such a thing as moral ecology?'

A: 'Something like that. Look, B, we both lament every morning when we go pick our papers at a seven-eleven. You see the whole place strewn with empty beer bottles and cans. You know from that it's just one more step to drugs. Just like those schoolkids who skip classes and sit smoking at the alley behind your house.

Ditto porno. The number of abuse cases must have avalanched. One more step and it's human trafficking next. In fact, i remember being at one premier school just before classes ended. Outside the compound were a bunch of badhats just waiting to escort a schoolgirl off. We know how that will all end.'

B: 'But if we take a step back, A, we may find that different matters actually criss-cross this minefield of societal disintegration.'

A: 'Indulge me, B.'

B: 'One, leadership. If politicians want people to listen up, they must first realize the game has turned around. The biggest mistake is to carry a chip on the shoulder. It's no longer the old schoolmaster method where the minister can lap it up because people may be expected to look up to him. Now the people are the schoolmasters. Governments don't know best. In fact, based on record of performance, some governments have actually shown they are blur sotongs.

Two, integrity. In this case, where're the 18 big fishes? See, people remember the juiciest parts. And it's all due to technology. In the past, if someone says something and it is reported, you will have to darken your thumbs flipping the pages of old newspapers to look for the article which reported what he said. Now it's google this and yahoo that. In addition, what was before located in one source is now multiplied and spread all over the worldwide web faster and more dramatically than any swine flu virus. So, B, if the person saying Y hasn't explained X that he had also said eons ago, X sticks into Y which then causes Z.'

B: 'What's Z?'

A: 'Scepticism, scorn, cynicism, you name it. People now pay attention to details because they have awakened. They remember things, they do parallel processing, they compare and contrast.'

B: 'And three, they want loops closed. A detainee dies, the investigation peters. Another detainee falls from great height, no blood splattered. A lady gets bombed to smithereens, the motive is not sought. Someone says someone's mansion is worth much more than what was said, no follow-up.'

A: 'I see your point. In fact, sometimes it's the other way around. Nothing done when it is expected. In this case, the minister is an authority on constitutional law. Yet the rakyat had to get the only learned judgment on the Perak fiasco from a law expert in Singapore. Selective proactivity, if ever there is such a phrase. Which points to the issue of integrity of the intellectual kind.'

walla 10 August 2009 at 20:14  

B: 'That's why, A, even if there is moral ecology on the issues of pornography and alcohol, people will gravitate to the fourth point.'

A: 'Which is?'

B: 'Abstraction of liberalism. Personal freedom because people have lost faith in political control and direction and that's because people have lost faith in the politicians.

Take this standard operating procedure of invoking the Name of the Almighty whenever mouthing some hope, like of Selangor returning to the old regime. Do you really believe that after encountering the fissures caused by my points one, two, three and four, people can still agree that is an alright thing to say? Honestly?'

A: 'Coming back to this censorship thing...'

B: 'Look, A, if it were up to me, i would say go ahead but how can it be done when the entire institution that is to prejudge what is smut and what is not is itself riddled with many questions on a whole series of issues? And secondly, how much resources are you going to invest to keep the censorship process going? And three, when have those in the game of opportunism whether of libertarianism or conservatism ever shown that it is not above using a public sector machinery to advance their own cause or advantage? That's one question whose loop will never be closed. Whether you are talking smut today, beer tomorrow, political messaging another day, or plain race relations, who audits who holds the control switch? If even judiciary promotions can be smudged in plain view leaving deafening silence about institutional integrity, what hope do the rakyat have that such a simple thing as censorship or sales abstinence will escape the influence of politicians and fundamentalists?

On the technical matter, we must also remember the reason why the worldwide web grew so fast is because it morphs. Just when you think you have closed one site, its content can be uploaded to a free host and propagated as an innocuous-looking link the clicking of which downloads the entire content to the desktop. Even the link can shortened to something else no software can detect. So how?

What he should have done should not have been the schoolmaster way. He should engage the rakyat for views and present facts that he has researched which supports his proposal. No point saying that his ministry is considering to do this or that. That straightaway says two things, at least. Satu, he's fishing for limelight. And dua, he's drawing the same old us-versus-them line, as in government-versus-serfs line.'

A: 'My bet is then it's all about building good family values through education.'

B: 'Don't mention that word to me, A.'

A: 'Hurts, huh?'

B: 'I'm all for multiple streaming, diversity. A, we don't have much of a chance to transform unless we really go dual streaming on all matters.'

A: 'I know what you mean. Good night.'

Ariff Sabri 10 August 2009 at 20:45  

always a pleasure sharing your thoughts on issues, my friend.

Anonymous,  11 August 2009 at 07:09  

Somebody mentioned somewhere that a proposal was put forth to supply the government a filter solution. This solution could enrich a few cronies of the minister. Ahhh it boils to dollars and sen again.
Pak Zed

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP