Archive for September 2nd, 2012

Internet blackout day: Politicisation of online activism?

— Damien D. Cheong and Yeap Su Yin
The Malaysian Insider
Sep 02, 2012

SEPT 2 — An internet blackout day was declared in Malaysia on 14 August 2012.

This was in protest against Section 114A of the recently-amended Evidence Act, which enables the authorities to act firmly against individuals who post defamatory, inflammatory and/or seditious content on the Internet.

The law not only holds the user/blogger potentially accountable for the offending post(s) but also any individual or organisation connected to the objectionable website or blog such as a person who: owns, administers or edits the website; is registered with the network service provider; and is in custody or control of the computer at the time the offence was committed.

These new amendments have alarmed many netizens and civil society groups because of the legislation’s wide scope and the heavy onus placed on the accused to prove his or her innocence. Many individuals have interpreted these amendments as an attempt by the Malaysian government to stifle internet freedom. The Stop 114A campaign was spearheaded by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), a civil society group, but it soon attracted support from several prominent civil society organisations, bloggers and opposition parties.

In the wake of Internet Blackout Day, the Najib administration promised to re-evaluate Section 114A, with the prime minister assuring the public that ‘Whatever we do, we must put the people first’. While this outcome may be interpreted as a success for online activism in Malaysia, the question this raises is whether such online activism can truly create an impact on its own or whether it needs support from opposition parties and political notables to do so. Read the rest of this entry »


Change of national flag Jalur Gemilang never a Pakatan Rakyat agenda and never discussed or raised in any PR meeting

When the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday personally led three senior UMNO Ministers to attack the Pakatan Rakyat with the canard that PR wanted to replace the national flag Jalur Gemilang, it was more than anything else a reflection of their sense of desperation about UMNO/Barisan Nasional prospects in the impending 13th General Election than respect for the truth.

I do not believe that with all the police and intelligence resources at their command, the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein could be unaware that there is completely no basis whatsoever in the canard that Pakatan Rakyat wanted to change the national flag.

The change of the national flag is never a Pakatan Rakyat agenda and has never been discussed or raised in any Pakatan Rakyat meeting.

This was why I had yesterday twittered in response to the allegation that PR wanted to change the national flag:

“Never came across such scatter-brained idea before. UMNO/BN dirty-tricks dept very busy”

Read the rest of this entry »


Arguing for a secular state

By Ahmad Farouk Musa
Free Malaysia Today
August 23, 2012

The question is would discriminatory policies noted in classical texts of Islamic state be acceptable in the modern era.


To many Muslims and especially the Islamists, the term secular is a very repugnant term and this abhorrence to anything secular stems mainly from the previously bitter experience of secularism in Turkey that had led to the dissolution of the Ottoman Caliphate, the last Caliphate in the Muslim world.

The fall of the Ottoman Caliphate led to some Muslim scholars to push for a new entity known as an Islamic state. The concept of an Islamic state was not known in the Islamic world before that. The main proponent for an Islamic state was none other than Muhammad Rashid Redha, a great Muslim reformer in the early 20th century. The main intention of Redha was to stem the onslaught of Western imperialism.

History has shown that while secularism was born in the West, its values spread across the world in many different continents and societies. According to Louay Safi, a scholar at the International Institute of Islamic Thought, secularism denotes a set of notions and values whose aim is to ensure that the state is neither engaged in promoting specific religious beliefs and values, nor uses its powers and offices to persecute religion.

To prevent state officials from using their political authority to impose a narrow set of religious attitudes and values on the larger society, and to foreclose the possibility of using religious symbols to agitate one religious community against another, a separation must be made between political authorities from religious affiliation. Read the rest of this entry »