Sunday, 15 April 2007

Joceline Tan, a columnist with The Star, a Malaysian newspaper, has written a great piece about the kerfuffle over registering bloggers in the developing nation.

To write her story, she spoke with several people whose opinions are meant to be taken seriously. They are:

Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin.

Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor.

A "well-connected media advisor".

Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

Johor Baru MP Datuk Shahrir Samad.

Basically, her story shows that authorities are pissed off because they are used to controlling the way information flows in the quasi-democratic country.

“If you guys (mainstream media) could publish just 50% rather than the 10% of what you actually know, imagine the difference," said the anonymous media advisor.

Notes Tan ruefully: "Shaziman was one of the new faces brought into the government to reach out to young voters but he really has to try harder." She points out that Shaziman (the deputy energy, water and communications minister) even lied in parliament when he said that Singapore had introduced registration of bloggers, and Malaysia should do the same. "[T]here is no such registration of bloggers in Singapore," she writes.

“The elite perception that the authorities can still control the media and news has to change," said the media advisor.

Frustration within the administration is apparent: "Zainuddin (the information minister) feels the anonymity in the Internet makes people go beyond the limit," Tan writes.

I love the way the media advisor keeps a low profile. He's probably worried that if he is seen to oppose the authorities, he'll be denied access to information or some such thing, as happens in Japan.

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