Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A killer blow to online media - Malaysiakini

COMMENT Many had expected Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to be more stringent in enforcing controls a la Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the media. Few expected that he would be worse than Mahathir.

Yesterday, the Home Ministry announced that the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) - the mother of all censorship laws - would be amended to cover online content. Its secretary-general Mahmood Adam said the changes will plug loopholes in the law.

NONEThere is no doubt that Malaysiakini and other online media have gained from the 'loophole', derived from Mahathir's pledge not to censor the Internet in 1995 as he kick-started the Multimedia Super Corridor project.

Since his retirement in 2004, Mahathir has himself turned blogger.

Free of censorship, the online media went on to lay the foundations for the 'political tsunami' in 2008, resulting in then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi conceding that the government had “lost the Internet war”.

While the traditional media and online media are both kept in check by some 35 laws which restrict freedom of expression in Malaysia, there is one crucial difference between the two.

The online media, unlike its print and broadcast cousins, does not need government approval to put out the news or to go back to the Home Ministry each year to renew the publishing and printing permits. It is this which keeps editors and journalists in the traditional media on a short leash.

It is likely that, should the proposed amendments become law, the online media too will be required to apply for a licence.

This will be the final nail in the coffin for press freedom. The little freedom of expression that Malaysians have enjoyed online over the past 16 years will end.

The licensing regime will enable the government to apply political pressure to the online media, and worse, allow the all-powerful home minister to declare news websites illegal. Don't forget that, under the PPPA, the minister's decision cannot be challenged in court.

NONEThis is why Najib is worse than Mahathir when it comes to media operations.

Instead of freeing up the traditional media by doing away with the licensing regime under the PPPA, Najib and his cousin, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, are taking the regressive step of controlling the online media.

Singapore-style Internet censorship

The timing and the speed of the amendment - it is expected to be tabled in Parliament by March - shows that the government has the upcoming general election in mind.

azlanThis proposal comes hot on the heels of similar curbs imposed by Singapore on its fledgling online media.

Only two weeks ago, the Singapore government announced a litany of restrictions on political website The Online Citizen, often dubbed as the island-state's version of Malaysiakini.

As part of the new requirements, The Online Citizen must declare itself a political organisation. This will bar its team of volunteers from writing, reporting, analysing or commenting about the elections expected to be called as early as March.

It is clear that the Malaysian government is taking a leaf from Singapore's Internet censorship playbook.

The move to amend the PPPA to include the online media must be defeated. Otherwise, Malaysia will return to the bad old days when the government had complete monopoly on truth.

STEVEN GAN is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Malaysiakini, an online media organisation launched in 1999.

Facebook PIs "find" abuser & form Community ....

"Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Selangor marketing and communications manager Jacinta Johnson-Chan said a total of 657 cruelty cases were reported last year with 90% of it involving dogs but none were prosecuted.
The rare abuse cases that went to court resulted in
the owners getting off with just a paltry fine."

-Animal Cruelty Laws Need More Bite


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Bad parents, we blame you - The Malaysian Insider

Bad parents, we blame you

January 26, 2011

JAN 26 — Thanks to an outbreak of bad parenting, I automatically cringe when I see children at shopping malls.

Invariably, they tend to be little snots. The parents just watch idly as their charges shriek, scream, run, fall and occasionally accost a random passerby.

These aren’t urchins from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. They’re not street children without parents to keep them from running wild. The children have parents and their parents are obviously not doing a good job.

It’s hilarious how I end up exchanging stories with other adults who tell me their own parents would not stand for the behaviour kids get away with today.

All my father had to do was give us a look and we would quieten down. Not so now. I see parents pleading, cajoling and begging their children to behave.

The worst are the ones who act as though their children are doing nothing wrong. God forbid anyone try to set their precious darlings right.

I don’t think corporal punishment is always the best recourse but children need to understand that actions have consequences.

If children are allowed to behave like untamed beasts without check, they will grow up believing that they have carte blanche to behave in whichever way they want.

Why even take children to malls in the first place? Malls are horrible places to take children. They’re crowded, stuffy and, in some cases, even dangerous. Parents these days are far too lazy to think of alternative ways to keep their children productively entertained.

Read to them. Actually play with them. Sing with them, make crafts with them, cook with them or maybe just talk with them. Organise playdates with other parents and maybe take turns to look out for the children while they play.

Please, parents. Stop torturing other people with the antics of your ill-brought up children because they reflect badly on you. You’ll likely be regarded a bad parent and guess what? You probably are.

~Bad parents, we blame you - The Malaysian Insider

* Erna Mahyuni blogs at when not writing for a living or dabbling in the performing arts.

Currently plays too much Dragon Age.