Friday, May 23, 2008

How to voice concerns on your blog without getting arrested

Read this portion from the Star. My comments at the end.

KUANTAN: Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob briefly became a newscaster during the state assembly sitting here yesterday, reading an article about stringent measures taken by the Singapore Government on a group of political activists who screened a film about Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew without obtaining approval from the media regulator. The article was carried by a local English daily yesterday and with the paper cutting in his hands, Adnan took several minutes reading it. It was to drive home the message that by being too lenient and open to media practitioners including bloggers, there could be an influx of articles so much so that readers were inclined to believe falsehoods. Adnan said that it was good if Malaysia could be strict like Singapore. Read more...

My comments:

Falsehoods are bad. But not reporting falsehoods are worse.

I do not like it when bloggers get lumped and labelled in a general way as if we are baddies ganging up against the government (although I agree that they are few lousy writers/bloggers out there who are more interested in publicity than truths). But blogging gives us back our democratic voice - which can only be good (if all our writing is backed up by evidence). But sometimes we do not have hard and solid evidence, but we still sense some form of injustice or that something is amiss. What do we do then?

A Singaporean blogger was recently arrested for his blog entry. He wrote how a certain person he saw in a public place doing something so idle and meaningless, and then he started to link race and this person's sorry state. He went on how he could take anyone belonging to this particular race on a debating challenge and that he would win hands down because his education provided the necessary verbal leverage. Incredible stuff.

Of course readers started to complain. This blogger should really be charged under Bloggers Emotional Check Act (2008) or Blogging Stupidly Act (2008) rather than a more serious racism/seditious-type offence. He removed his posts and offered his apology and explanation citing ignorance and emotional lability for the entry - he should really cite stupidity.

Ok, I digress now. Back to my original question: if we sense some form of injustice when we do not have the necessary evidence apart from our intuition saying so, how do we report/blog about it?

Collectively, the blogosphere is really the emotional product of bloggers. We can either contain our emotion and not blog on the issue if we do not have solid evidence for or if we feel like saying something, this is my advice:

(1) Flag up the issue in a thought-provoking way. Use a language and expression that challenges the notion that everything is fine, without committing as fact.

(2) Use available statistics to show disparity and concerns, but do not generalise. It is not racist to say Race A represent 70% of the prison population if this was the case, but don't say Race A have criminal tendency/traits. There could also be other explanations: the law could be biased or unfairly meted out to Race A or it could just be a sample bias - a prison in China is likely to hold 99.9% Chinese prisoners!

(3) Flip the coin - give alternative views on the matter. E.g. If Government A rewards people based on merit rather than their genetic make-up, this would create healthier competition and a more hardworking society. Handing out goodies on a plate because you are so-and-so will encourage laziness and surely, in the long run, this will not benefit those who receive help.

Happy blogging... and don't get into unnecessary trouble.


Blogger bongkersz said...

how convenient for the government to lump all the bloggers as nuisance and only good at spreading lies. some bloggers do bring up valid questions. With our media stifled/whipped to the point of reporting only for the good of the government, where else do we find alternative news? more insulting, he's implying most malaysians can't think right and gullible to believe/or not believe anything written on the internet/blogs.

May 23, 2008 12:28 PM  
Blogger Kamigoroshi said...

A long while back, I wrote a post on a long list on an effective way not to get arrested for what you wrote. I think that still applies now. Probably much more than ever.

May 23, 2008 2:17 PM  

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