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Governance 101: Old School Hard Censorship, Will He Change Too?

change internet minister

(“Trust meeeee and please change, who needs the Internet? It is a Western tool to erode our culture and way of our life.  I know this, I am in charge of information and communications old school! Image source:

Recently, the Minister in charge of “information, communications and culture” said:-

Readers will most likely shift to the Internet for news if the traditional media continues with its old style of presenting news based on what the editors feel that people should read, or using the media as a propaganda tool

This was because the Internet allowed the people to read what they wanted to read. The Internet has created a new phenomenon of change all over the world.

Hmmm, that looks too obvious that the speech was scripted by someone else especially when the keyword here is “new phenomenon of change”

Because this is the very same guy who said:-

Muslims and other religious groups must be wary of the Internet as it was introduced by the West. Users must not be influenced by what they see and hear when using the Internet. The Malaysian government has warned against excessive use of micro-blogging sites like Facebook and Twitter, arguing that they could erode the country’s culture

And earlier contemplated this:-

Despite a guarantee of no censorship in Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor, Datuk Seri Rais Yatim’s ministry is evaluating the feasibility of putting an Internet filter blocking “undesirable websites” — similar to China’s aborted “Green Dam” software. The study is to be completed by this December and the results will be handed to a shadowy unit monitoring blogs and websites.

And who, much earlier, he said that:-

The idea is good (for bloggers in Malaysia to be registered) but we have to see it from the legal aspects and from the aspect of freedom of Internet use.

What is the real role of the Information, Communications & Culture Ministry when it comes to the Internet? Is to closely monitor of Malaysians using the Internet and curtail them whenever it comes to Malaysians using the Internet to criticise or highlighting the wrongdoing of the Government? Or is it to facilitate the wider usage of the Internet in a more productive and effective way so that the nation will make progress in areas of information and communications?

As the Ministry that holds the power of information and communications at its hands, the Ministry should be one of the most progressive ministries in the whole of the Government. It is the one ministry that can have much positive impact on other areas of the Government namely Education, Science and Technology (that is obvious), Finance and Commerce (everything runs on information technology these days) and Human Resource (are our people being readied for the online information age?)

What is then the vision and mission of the ministry?

Interestingly a ministry which is in charge of ‘information and communications’ does not even have an entry in the famous Wikipedia unlike its counterpart from the South (wondering just how embraced are the people in the Ministry to the internet. Or are they seeing Wikipedia in the same threatening manner of Twitter and Facebook?)

Anyway from their own website, the vision of the ministry is:-

To spearhead the creation of a nation state grounded on the ideals of 1Malaysia and Rukun Negara, through information, communication and culture

That does not sound right, doesn’t it? I sorry to say this but the vision itself does not sound too progressive (“grounded” on the ideals of 1Malaysia which yet to be seen its effectiveness and Rukun Negara which principles whilst ideals at times have been rarely upheld by Malaysian Politicians)

Just look at how the Minister in charge of communications behaves himself in front of the world when it comes to the Internet. There seems to be much dislike and fear – the internet is not about one person or one country but it is about a global community and the almost endless load of information to be discovered and made use of.

As in many things, there are bad and good things on the internet but ultimately it boils down to how we are going to engage the overwhelming information on the internet and what we going to use them to better ourselves and the country as a whole.

As Facebook user said (to the Minister’s warning on Twitter and Facebook):-

The West did not give you your will power. “If an individual cannot control what they (sic) take in, something must be wrong with him or her.”

The INTERNET in the words of the politician is indeed a “new phenomenon of change”. But it remains a distant phenomenon if nothing is done to embrace and grow with it. It remains meaningless if despite knowing the benefits and the potentials, attitude towards it does not change from a fearful one to a more positive one.

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