Sorry, I’ve been away for so long. There’s a lot going on in my life of late that has been occupying my time. Medical emergencies and treatments involving members of the family has been a major issue; then there was the visit of my out-of town in-laws; then there was some work related issues; then there was expanded responsibilities at church; then there was …….and so the list goes on and on.
Astute as ever, Mago and Joyce inquired if my absence has been in part due to recent street protests in Kuala Lumpur. I was not directly involved in those protests or the clashes between the police and the protesters and it was not the reason for my absence but like for all Malaysians, those events have a great impact on me. And provides the fodder for this post which I have called “Monkey Business”.
How it all started:
Monkeys are attracted by bananas. In this case, an estimated 150,000 yellow clad Malaysians (hence the bananas but I mean this with deepest respect) tried to march to Merdeka Square (or Independence Square) in central Kuala Lumpur on the 28th of April 2012 as part of the BERSIH 3 rally. BERSIH 3 is a movement pressing for fair and just elections through electoral reform and action against abuse of the voting process. Participants included Malaysians of every level of society, every profession, religion and race.
Monkey Business 1
After initially a mostly peaceful protest, the organizers declared the protest a success and ordered the crowd to disperse. At this point, some protesters broke through the police barricades but the police response has been reported as being heavy handed with use of water cannons, teargas, widespread beating of protesters, arrested prisoners and reporters. Some of the allegations are really quite disturbing including reports that policemen took off name tags so that they could not be identified when carrying out the beatings. The video below is of the news report by Al-Jazeera which highlighted that cameras were smashed and reporters attacked.
Monkey Business 2
Shortly after the incident, news agencies rushed to cover the event but it soon became known that the local pay-tv provider, Astro, which carries the BBC news channel had censured parts of the BBC news coverage and this during the week of World Press FreedomDay. Specifically, interviews with protestors and scenes showing some of the police action were removed. The BBC made a formal protest as censorship or editing of BBC news reports by the pay-tv provider was in breach of the agreement between the two parties. In response, the Minister of Information, Communication and Culture praised Astro for providing “quality” news by only airing the “best parts” of the rally.
Monkey Business 3
A couple of weeks after BERSIH 3, a couple of groups, apparently from the Army Veterans and the Petty Traders Association decided to protest against the rally by targeting the home of the main organizer of BERSIH 3, lawyer Datuk S. Ambiga. Claiming that they were upset at the loss of income incurred due to the rally, the Petty Traders Association set up a road stall outside Datuk Ambiga’s home to give away free beefburgers. On another occasion, a group of army veterans assembled outside her house to do calisthenic exercises which seem to involve a lot of sticking their bums in the direction of her house. When complains were made to the police, a senior police officer said that they were not breaking any law. In response, another group of traders threatened to set up a road side stall outside the police officer’s home which promptly resulted in the police changing their tune claiming it would cause a nuisance to traffic. The whole thing has been dubbed the “butt & burger” protest.
Monkey Business 4
Oh, yes they did. The government has made amendments to the Malaysian Evidence Act 1950. The amendments seem to mean that if a post or comment that appears in a website, blog, Facebook or Tweet account is deemed to be potentially offensive or deemed seditious, the authorities can now take the owner of the site to court even if it was written by someone else.
“According to theSun, changes to the passed Evidence (Amendment) (No 2) Act 2012 would hold Internet users liable for any content posted through their registered networks or data processing devices.
The amended law will have serious implications on Internet use as the owner of a site or device is presumed guilty and has to fight to prove his innocence, the daily noted, citing the concerns of civil society groups.
“What this means is, if an anonymous person posts content said to be offensive on your Facebook wall, or if someone piggybacks your WiFi account and uploads a controversial document, you will be immediately deemed the publisher of the content and subject to prosecution under the relevant laws such as the Sedition Act,” the Sun noted in its May 21 report.” (Full article in Digital News Asia)
This seems ludicrous to me but I hope that will not be construed as an offensive remark. I also have to hope that none of you readers leave any offensive comments on this blog. Don’t want to run foul of the law after all.
Now doesn’t that make you think of all kinds of offensive remarks? Just make sure you post it on the blog of someone who deserves it.