April 5, 2012
Most people just don’t know the wisdom or aren’t conscious of how they so often sell themselves cheapy cheap. They do it hundred of times a week without really being conscious of how they are systematically devaluing themselves. And how do they do this? By not being MINDFUL of how valuable and expensive their thoughts really are – let me put it this way, if you have bothered yourself with something and taken the trouble to think it through from A to Z and even experimented with it, the chances are, what you have may well be something extraordinary – that’s to say the experiences you have derived along with the information you have managed to glean about a particular situation, person or challenge really has an INTRINSIC value.
So why are you giving your time, effort and intellect for free – because the people who usually run our country are getting paid millions to do so – they aren’t volunteering or for that matter doing anything for free, so why should you?
The same applies if you happen to be a woman prospecting for a husband. Why do you sell yourself cheap? Only you can answer that question – perhaps you have simply NOT taken the time or effort to figure out what you can possibly offer the other side. Or even bothered yourself with the whole business of ascribing a value to the many skills you have developed through the years – even something as mundane as being neat, organized and punctual has an INTRINSIC value, what more of other attributes that you may happen to have?
Like I said, most of us aren’t conscious of how we so often sell ourselves cheapy cheap – it is ONLY when we make a conscious effort to recognize our own self worth that we are able to command a fair value for what we have to offer.
But to first know what we really worth, we must all learn to be sparing with our words, to even bite our lips and hold back and even feel totally at ease should others consider us unexceptional as we don’t seem to come across as a person who has anything valuable to offer – the first discipline of selling yourself for a right price is to be SPARING with your words and advise.
“Let me be crystal clear abt certain things – in an age where public servants are paid millions and enjoy creamy salaries – there can be no such thing as FREE any longer, very recently, I met an ex civil servant who wanted me to share with him my experience of doing business in Burma – I jokingly told him over a few drinks that it would cost him $5,000 an hour – he was shocked of course, but he shouldn’t have been – as in a world where everything has been reduced to dollar and cents, then there can be no such thing as volunteerism, ONLY the law of money applies – this may seem very crude to you. But you should at least take the trouble to figure it out yourself – I can say more, but I don’t really believe it is my right to tell you how much you are worth – all I can really say is if you haven’t taken the trouble to think abt this subject, then you are very likely to offer everything you have to offer for free. Only understand this, in an age when even public servants are getting paid millions, what possible value does FREE actually command? Nothing is the answer. Nothing is the only answer. Now the question now is HOW long are you going to give yourself for FREE like a ball camphor? Or shall I say, how might you want to further devalue yourself?
Hence it always pays to be sparing with what you have between your head, if you have ten things, then offer it as only 5 and keep the remaining 5 somewhere in some secret part of your mind – even cooks do this all the time, if they write a cook book, they always leave out the secret ingredient, they are prepared to give you 99% of the recipe, but because they have the wisdom to hold back that 1% that makes the 99% – 100%, their skills will always be in demand – as a man and woman you should research and study this. Learn how to hold back, learn how to shut your mouth, learn how to be sparing and learn above all how to walk away when the price is not right. Do it enough times, and you will find that someday, someone will just pay you what you are really worth.”
July 13, 2008
Is it such a wonder: the argument in the anti- anon camp is usually paraphrased along the trite cut and dried line;
“If you don’t even bother to step out of the shadows to be counted; then you don’t deserve any rights! In fact, you forfeited your rights!” To paraphrase; you don’t have a right to anonymity!
Don’t believe me be? Then consider this then: Q: why didn’t any of the 13 bloggers provision a means to recruit the participation of the anonymous bloggers?
Sure, according to them, they informed everyone and all the proceedings were basically open for all to participate.
But what if the mechanics of participating; first requires you to compromise your elemental right to your privacy first? What if it’s not even possible to remain anonymous while participating in the process? [perhaps we should all insist that ALL gays register themselves in a central bureau of information; that way everytine they apply for a job, visit the dentist or go anywhere near the kiddies playground; we can ALL ascertain their suitability and mitigate the risk accordingly?
Coming to think of it; wouldn't it better if we just dispensed with the co-axial cables and batteries and asked gays to sew a star of David badge on their lapel like the Nazi's did to the Jews?
Do you see where I am going.....it's a slippery road....it's function creep?
Or perhaps, we should consider the moral and ethical counter point viz-a-viz that sort of information MUST always remain privileged; not only is it an outright violation of one's privacy; but it's arguable there's no valid justification for releasing that sort of privileged information.
For starters, it can NEVER be abduced, used or even considered without the "clear and present" risk of prejudicing a gay man's elemental rights to equal opportunities in virtually every area of work, life and play i.e that sort of information has to be anathema to the public domain. The assumption here; whatever way you cut it; the benefits will always pale in comparison to the deficits; in the same vein, providing a blogger blogs and someone reads (and it could be just him and his sister); then why should he even be required to subject himself to a artificial process of pre-qualification that necessarily jeopardizes his right to privacy?
Doesn't his rights accrued to him by default? Isn't there supposed to a presumption of 'rights?' In very much the same way many of us would consider it morally abhorrent, if an employer treated sexual orientation, gender, religion or creed as valid consideration for turning down an applicant?
So tell me; are we going forward or backwards? You see this whole discussion is jugular to how we may choose to scale the entire of issue anonymity online. And you thought this was just going to be a leisurely read......it's complicated......very complicated.....but there is no running away from it...that's the nature of the beast.
What emerges is this argument, symptomatic and even a trifle comic, is an indication not only of a highly inflated sense of what should and should not be termed kosher blogging, but also of a tremendously limited, almost hysterically antagonistic view of broadly painting the rest of blogosphere using one brush, one color to convey only one understanding of one reality by one class of bloggers.
To say that without stepping out into the open one doesn’t deserve any rights; is not only the denial of the right to privacy. But it suggest all the ills of our society could for one moment be magically prescribed a cure, if only we foreclosed on online anonymity and compel everyone to wear name tags; that unfortunately can only remain true if anonymity as a social theory and school of thought never once had inchpin in the human heritage; or as a concept or ideal, it has absolutely nothing to offer to the ongoing social narrative.
The flaw of such presentist arguments fails to register how the right to privacy has always been an indelible feature of every civilization; you can even say it’s part and parcel of the human condition; trying to elide it; is akin to the foolish enterprise of proclaiming: only 13 blogs make up the Singapore blogosphere and not a single one of them is even anonymous! The question isn't one of believability as remains one that relates to fidelity and how well it manages to capture "reality" without divorcing itself from the truth? Or whether this or that site will one day evolve into the Singaporekini? Again how believable that may be pales in comparison to how this can be reasonably accomplished when this site only aggregates what one version of reality?
I guess one way to appreciate the importance of this social calculus in the context of anonymity is by asking ourselves whether it’s even possible to build a diverse and vibrant online and real world community without provisioning for the anonymous blogger, poster, whistle blower and reader?
My view is you might as well try to bake a cake without eggs or cook spaghetti without tomatoes; it cannot be done. Not without the risk of hollowing out what really counts and driving out the good stuff; what happens when virtual community is no longer densely populated and heavily trafficked? How would the social narrative read like, if it’s only penned by one segment of society that denies access to all others? Wouldn’t the sense of estrangement be heightened?
Again these are some of the questions you need to consider.
You see, I see it this way; for anything to grow holistically, that’s to say assume an organic trajectory; it first demands recognition of diversity along with everything the term naturally implies; and that simply means, we need to decamp from the simple idea anything in anonland is something to be necessarily feared; rather I believe it should be embraced and if possible even understood in the good light of it’s historical and social context.
What are the social impulses that accounts for anonymity? What exactly are the social and political conditions which gives rise to it as a behavioral school of though? Was it always there all along? What form and shape did it take previously? How is it juxtaposed against the present?
One thing remains firmly fixed in whatever lines of enquiry, we may choose to pursue; we are not dealing with anything new; this isn’t a ‘new’ menace anymore than graffiti which once peppered the walls of ancient sepulchers or ruins, as in the Catacombs of Rome or the Pyramids at Luxor represented alien visitations; they’re simply a genre of what we consider today as human expression. Nothing more or less.
I guess if we care to juxtapose this on today’s online ruminations; they are in essence one of the same reality. These ancient rants may range topically but their compact as a pill one liner witticism bears out to be one of the same reality when we look at much of the online gabble that’s floating around.
The one that really appeals to be was penned by an anon temple slave some 3,000 years ago in Giza, “Fuck the Pharoah! Why can’t he just die in a hole like the rest of us?” To literati anon’s the likes of Thomas Paine who once started publishing his anonymous newsletter "Common Sense" in the 18th century, where he made strenuous calls for “a determined declaration for independence."
Both the temple slave and “anon” Paine and many others we frequently see in blogosphere today may well be one of the same reality.
And if you are wondering what value does anonymous blogging bring to the table? Then consider this; what would have happened if King George and his merry men had today's technology to shut them out from penning the social narrative? Paine would have probably have languished in obscurity and an important voice of the movement for independence would have been silence forever and the United States as we know it today would not have even existed!
Little wonder in 1790 Thomas Jefferson fought hard for the First Amendment precisely to protect not just the "official" press but also the anonymous bloggers of his age; who first spread the radical idea of a free nation dedicated to the ideal that "all men are created equal", that they are all endowed with certain unalienable rights, doesn't even matter if they decided to speak on a gilded podium or a soap box - we live under one sun.
I suspect in our age as we begin to grapple with the online Babel of what it means to be a netizen? Or how we should relate to each other as a community online?
Many of the problems we as a community have to wrestle over aren’t so different from the ones which our ancestors once faced in the real world. While certain problems like hate speech and racism will always continue to persist and perhaps even from time to time scissor the social narrative. Along with such pressing questions like how can we best stem the rising tide of the electronic culture that threatens to reduce each writer and each reader into an island?
One thing will always endure; there will never ever be any magic bullets, short cuts and secret trap doors; only the high road. We can no more discount anonymity from our human history anymore than we can attempt to redraw our understanding of our world by denying that it is an indelible part of who we really are.
I remain proudly anonymously yours forever. And I want you always to hold up your head up high and never allow anyone to put shame in your heart….now that you know your illustrious history......you have a good reason to defend it....Go and write your story.
“Darkness: “Hello my name is Bad Boy, I’ve been working on this game for nearly a year and this is my first broadcast. Is anybody there? Please talk to me. I need to find out whether this works. Please.”
Anonymous: J No need to shout, I hear you loud and clear. It works! Bad boy you say? What kind of moniker is that?”
Darkness: A stupid name, but I think that’s beside the point – I hear you! And that means it works. I have a feeling anon this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.”
First Recorded Transmission in the Strangelands / icered.com / server 0001-A / 21 July 2002 @ 0650 GMT – From the Chapter I - The Dawn of Man - The Book of Ages
[This article was once written by Darkness – and posted in ASICS, PBK, Strangelands, The Intelligent Singaporean, WOS and The Singapore Daily / The FILB has managed to reconstitute this article by weaving together seamlessly discussions and materials pertaining to the subject of “online anonymity” which were both posted in the commentary of Phi Beta Kappa and from transcripts of Darkness address in the "Great Hall" to the "8 Immortals" on the issue of community moderation 98529EV Hansard 16 Vol 4 Primus – considerable creative license has been taken and every attempt to preserve the grammatical and spelling mistakes have been carefully undertaken to make sure your reading enjoyment remains a memorable one – the brotherhood press was ceased all publications – this is a joint effort by both the FILB and the Mercantile Guild – The Brotherhood Press 2008]
July 13, 2008
What does it really mean when one’s right to privacy is denied? Are we already living in fish bowl land under constant panoptical state surveillance? Or maybe human rights is rotting away silently?
I don’t know about you, but personally I have a hard time coming to grips with this whole issue of privacy. I mean based on my conversations with old folks; they tell me 40 years ago; they had to share a room with four other families and their only claim to privacy was a clothes line. During those heady days when Singapore was just a fishing rump; a man couldn’t indulge in the little pleasures of life such as scratching his balls in peace without provoking the all seeing eye of the nosey parker Auntie brigade, but these days neighbors don’t even talk to each other; the only time one really needs to knock next door is to find out whether the odd body is decomposing.
I guess one way of describing my confused sensation of been ostensibly encroached can best be described; as a puppy in distress yelping off in some corner of my mind whenever I believe my right to privacy has been infringed.
What am I talking about? Fundamentalist insurance agents; inconsiderate commuters who dole out ring tone torture in the MRT; in your face goody good ministers who don’t seem to know the difference between handing out bladder management tips and suggested solutions.
The problem with my definition of privacy only reveals itself on closer examination; it’s missing one vital ingredient; a genuinely alarmed me! Let me give you a peek-a-booh into my averagely scattered mind.
For example: I don’t mind snoopy cameras in the public square, as I believe it’s a wonderfully effectively way of vacuuming up the odd serial murderer and suicide bomber off our streets; I don’t even mind the odd ball grab body search one occasionally gets in the airport. In fact, I don’t even mind the friendly uncle policeman dropping by from time to time and asking me whether I seen anyone splashing shit on my front door of my neighbor lately.
I do however take exception to my personal details been released for the purposes of telemarketing. I don’t believe online anonymity should be necessarily treated as a character flaw. And I don’t see why anyone should even have to be apologist for remain anon. So as you can see my right to privacy is really a mixed cocktail. There’s nothing that really stands out and declares, “This is the line!”
Having readily admitted I am terminally blasse about privacy; I do believe a line needs to be clearly drawn on the sand. Otherwise there’s always a danger one may slip into a lull only to suddenly wake up in North Korean. What am I referring too? Function creep that’s what I call it. That inexorable law of human nature when one gives an inch only to end up losing a foot ; it becomes all too real when ordinary folk don’t know when, how or even why they should insist on their fundamental rights to privacy.
You could say I believe everyone has a right to a personal sphere of bubble, a free space so to speak. That illicit unaccountable time comprising of fire stairs cigarette breaks; indolent moments when one is just whiling the moments in the office; or lunch breaks that seem to stretch on longer than they should. Providing it doesn’t affect one’s productivity, I don’t see why ordinary folk aren’t allowed to have these little slices of pleasure which makes life bearable.
The Internet for instance has certainly provided most of us with an unprecedented ability to communicate and share ideas while keeping our privacy intact. Online anonymity has certainly opened the door to a much freer public square? For one it remains a sanctuary for those who fear persecution, ostracism or embarrassment by allowing them the flexibility to communicate about topics and in ways they would not risk otherwise?
It would seem there’s also a dystopian side to this new found freedom; online anonymity can also be used to mask illegal behavior. In some cases it can scissor through reputations leaving relationships in tatters. However, let’s be clear; this problem isn’t as rife as it’s often painted out to be and on the balance; even those who are anti- anon have to admit anonymity adds rather than subtracts from any discussion; sure there are a few idiots who will always spoil the soup; but that human condition has always existed even in the real world; the inconsiderate chatterer in the theater; the flasher in the park; the serial stalker who rummages through every bit of your life.
Besides governments already have a right to prosecute criminal behavior or to pursue legal actions for defamation, copyright infringement, or other civil wrongs in anonland. Even the whole idea of online anonymity is at best a security blanket; the moment one post; there’s always a record, an electronic trail that guarantees that it can always be traced to the originator.
What really disturbs me is how increasingly online anonymity per se is often synonymously equated with binge drinking i.e unmitigated slander, uninhibited violence along with encouraging feral behavior. These days online anonymity isn’t just the stuff of sand box politics on associates with petulance and incontinence.
It’s gone big league; with headliners such anon hate mailers, sex fiends and pedophiles. I think that creates an ethical dilemma for everyone who wants to participate anonymous. Are we indirectly through our insistence to remain anonymous encouraging a sub culture of violence, irresponsibility and unbridle freedom that can only drive out the good in our net?
To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t really know.
[This article was once written by Darkness – and posted in ASICS, PBK, Strangelands, The Intelligent Singaporean, WOS and The Singapore Daily / The FILB has managed to reconstitute this article by weaving together seamlessly discussions and materials pertaining to the subject of “online anonymity” which were posted in the commentary of Phi Beta Kappa – considerable creative license has been taken and every attempt to preserve the grammatical and spelling mistakes have been undertaken to make sure your reading enjoyment remains a memorable one – the brotherhood press was ceased all publications – this is a effort by both the FILB and the Mercantile Guild – The Brotherhood Press 2008]
[Before reading this Article, do consider bookmarking this excellent site to keep abreast of the Internet Deregulation debate.]
By now I am sure most of you are familiar with Cherian and his stellar plans of freeing up our press. I have absolutely no idea where his seminal article is rotting in right now. But I do faintly remember the gist of it; Cherian advances a host of reasons why he believes a freer press would be able to successfully seed the supreme good and even drive out the dystopian bad from our society. Now if you haven’t read that article; don’t worry, as what he has to say can more or less be compressed into a postage stamp. In washing machine language it goes something like; more freedom = better press / less freedom = net will continue to be a zoo.
My feel is Cherian’s formulation deserves closer rexamination as the sum of what he’s forwarding is really closer to alchemy than anything that resembles cold cut logic; in a nut shell, he postulates by simply ‘opening’ up on a regulated press. This magically ‘opens’ up endless opportunities for a broader all inclusive national discourse that will hopefully recruit an eclectic class of readers who may be willing to indulge in a spot of literary Sudoku.
Now obviously Cherian has never read an article entitled, “why I will never ever read a blog or ever.” Am I surprised such repressed views do from time to time secret their way from the cloistered cloves of the sisterhood to the public square? Nope, only because I know the sisters of perpetual hesitation (SPH). It’s even conceivable the whole idea of freeing up the press will exacerbate the decrease the aperture for free speech; here one really needs to dwell deeper in the whole issue of what really accounts for the lag between what is usually published and how it comes across; is the disconnect simply a function of a systematic disorder, one presumably brought forth by a constriction of the state? Or is it even possible many of these journalist have simply lost touch with the broader community of readers? Are they really so out of touch, when one of the sisterhood’s mother superior Sumiko sighs; “I’ve missed the boat.” A cheery chorus of “our aim must be improving” resounds?
According to Cherian one reason why our net these days resembles a zoo, is because the MSM aren’t stepping in to do the job of slaking the thirst of the collectively conscious. It’s conceivable his logic presupposes the press corps already has the latent capacity to revivify both the information and ‘brain food’ supply chain to good effect – now I am not saying Cherian’s wrong. I am not even saying he doesn’t quite understand the finer issues related to the whole idea of re-constituting the intellectual deficit needed to sustain a free and independent press.
Only if you buy into his idea that we may already have a ‘crippled press,’ then you must also accept what probably makes up its present attribution must be so riven and threadbare, that they are in all probability conceivably terminally complacent and supine to even stepping up to the role demanded of them.
It gives me no pleasure to say this, but of late, I’ve even been toying with the idea ; if the press were actually given the freedom which Cherian has been harking for; can they even be entrusted to do the right thing? And not abuse this new found freedom to assert their hold on our collective consciousness by using ever more nefarious means?
Of course, we all like to buy into the idea that the press corps in general comprises of an eclectic pool of averagely educated aspirants who all seek the truth very much like all of us and perhaps they can even be counted on to reliably write the truth. The problem with that sort of logic is. While it remains palpably true; every vocational aspires to a noble goal. This in no way discounts the possibility all too often they make representations concerning power and politics in such a way as to assert their hold on the public consciousness. I have for instance wondered why the press only seems to promote the cult of Mr Brown and Xiaxue at the expense of other intelligent blogs in their reportage of blogoland? Neither can it be denied many journalist bear their past within what and how they choose to write.
How is it possible for lets say a former ISD officer to write objectively about the opposition? In what way does the prospects of having spent one’s entire working life in only one newspaper and no other add to the journalistic diversity needed to support a free and independent mindset?
These are simply some of the questions which will continue to militate against the assumption decamping on a controlled press necessarily leads to a freer press – the logic takes it’s cue from “jungle book” theory - one can certainly foreclose a man from the jungle by taking him out of it, but can one take the jungle out of the man?
My point is although ALL oligarchies make noble representations of their respective Nirvana’s, not all of them master and control them. It didn’t happen to the nuclear technologist who promised us all sixpence for wattage with the advent of the nuclear age; or even with nutritionist, who once wax lyrical about solving global hunger by being able to deliver 3 square meals in something as compact as a pill. Neither did the much heralded age of supersonic air travel bring with it the promise of cheaper and faster trans continental flights – when I consider how every door man in the business class lounge even knows how I want my bacardi and lime served up.
This is the vital distinction that needs to be grappled with when we consider the idea of freeing up the press; knowing what’s good doesn’t mean people will necessarily deliver good, not especially when the deep cultural roots which account for their visions of the past, present and future are not urgently reinterpreted – such territorial instincts aren’t just confined to journalist. One can even say it extends right across the spectrum of trades to explain why opticians suddenly turn deadly serious like undertakers when they insist on lecturing us; why Lasik is hazardous. Or why politicians always leverage on the children, family and home cooked values whenever they run out of arguments to defend their cheesy policies.
This requires us to ask further what really makes up the marrow of a free press? Does it just require freeing it up as Cherian said? Or does it require something much more?
Here what we need to understand is the modern idea of the oppositional writer, the journalist who writes against power, who writes against the political order of his day or the even plumbs to questions the whole apparatus of assimilation. Is essentially a person who never once honed his skills in the environment of openness and freedom as Cherian alludes.
On the contrary his crèche requires him to struggle perpetually amid the discomfort zone. Against the acute impression that he may actually be living in a reductively binary culture that threatens to level the field of possibilities further; in this dystopian landscape where all nuances of grey have ceased to exist: one is either successful or a failure; a scholar or a peasant; with us or against us; functional or autistic; patriot or lunatic in the fringe; ST or the internet; TOC or the rest of the unaggregatable blogosphere - that naturally prompts us to ask; what kind of values does a writer who commits himself to waging such an un relentless war against that flattening of the field of possibilities base his worldview on? Why is he compelled to question the status quo ante along with the whole idea of state imposed ‘realism?’ Why does he question the meaning of power unrelentlessly? One thing emerges from this line enquiry – the oppositional writer has to stand outside the system. One can even go as far as to proclaim this as truism, in the way concert pianist cannot be tone deaf or crow shooters crossed eyed; one can no more grasp his metier without mentioning how he is so apart from the system that he has ceased completely to be part of it; anymore than one can talk about a comb without imagining hair!
What is news? How is it supposed to relate to me? Do I really need the state to filter what goes into my brain? Why can’t I do it myself?
Against this backdrop where the writer continually wrestles with his version of reality and state imposed officialdom, this effectively demolishes the homily myth the freedom to write in comfort without the fear of state inspired harassment, persecution and bullying could even produce what we like to call the oppositional writer.
In the no man’s land when a writer wordsmiths; writing ceases to be writing in the truest sense and instead what emerges is its not designed to change anything as much as it strives to preserve something; that which is preserved may be the reality instead of tragic realism; things are never as simple as they often held out to be; it could be something worthy; something dreamy like having the right to read poetry or even a battle royale that attempts to take on the necessary lie of every successful regime, but one thing is certain, he must question it and remain a contrarian very much in the spirit of Karl Krauss.
I suspect here freedom does little to inure the oppositional writer with the right spirit to tease out the nuances and even less to seek out the greys in our omnipresent binary world.
If anything when the day comes when writers and the guilds they belong too and this includes journalist, bloggers and even the lone diarist are singled out for wreaths, honors and feted and described in post scripted terms as exemplary “purveyors of the truth”; it probably also means real writing, real thinking and real deep spirited discourse that has always been relied on to seek out the truth has dwindled to near nothingness, that I am afraid also means the thing we’re talking about when we use the word, ‘truth’ has reached a terminal end. It no longer exist.
“The real end of the world is the destruction of the spirit; the other kind depends on the insignificant attempt to see whether after such a destruction the world can go on. ” Karl Kraus
[This article was once written Darkness – The Brotherhood Press 2008 / Social-Political – EP 99374655-2008 – This article was first published in the Singapore Daily @ Sunday, May 04, 2008, 8:48:42 AM / ASICS / PBK / The Strangelands – The brotherhood press has ceased all publications – this is a mirror copy that has been reconstituted by the Free Internet Library Board for your reading pleasure – Serialization: 907392-0092ELFIMAN / Retrieval Date: 2015 / FILB -2008 – This article is an extended version and contains materials which was previously unpublished – FILB 2008 ]
July 2, 2008
The Barisan Nasional (BN) performed disastrously in the recently concluded general elections. The coalition comprising of 14 parties lost its two third majority with the dominant leader in the pack, UMNO winning only 78 of the 117 parliamentary seats contested.
The question remains: what accounts for this dismal showing? What lies at the root of the anatomy of failure?
The objective of this paper is NOT to highlight the “direct causes” such as lack of transparency, poor governance lack of accountability and corruption. This has already been discussed exhaustively in the MSM.
The goal here is to investigate further into the systematic fissures which gave rise to the perfect conditions for these “direct causes” to take hold, fester, culminating in the anatomy of BN’s failure.
1. THE ANATOMY OF FAILURE
To understand the root cause of the anatomy of failure, we need to examine specifically the historical elements which makes up the party political juggernaut of BN, specifically UMNO. This we will do by tracing out in broad strokes 4 main motifs (1) The Malaysian credo – the struggle for Malaysian identity – Merdeka (2) hegemony – the struggle for Malay supremacy –Perjuagan (3) command and control – in the form and shape of money politics. Finally, (4) linking religion and politics
Four elements have been identified by our team as the primary causal factors accounting for BN’s anatomy of failure.
1.1 THE STRUGGLE FOR NATIONAL INDENTITY – “PERJUANGAN”
Unlike the Palestinian “intifada,” one of the great anti-colonial uprisings of our times, where struggle over the historical theme of Palestine forms the main montage which defines much of Arab awakening.
In the history of the Malay archipelago since Merdeka i.e independence, as A.Alatas mentions in his seminal work, “The Myth of the Lazy Native.” There was never any real awakening in either culture or identity which allowed Malaysians to break free of the affiliations that dominated ‘colonial capitalist thought.’ Thus he concludes. Much of the remnants we associate with the past and even current Malay idea of “perjuangan” i.e the struggle for identity, is in effect a “false consciousness,” brought forth by a lack of intellectual break with British ideological thinking at “the deeper level of thought.”
According to Alatas, the leadership of UMNO suffered in varying degrees from these residues of colonial thinking which resulted in a distorted reality as to how best to accomplish their political architecture.
Unlike the Arabs and long before them, the colonist in America, who had ample opportunities to hammer out all the attributes of identity and culture which allowed them to successfully break away cleanly from the stranglehold of British imperialism. The Malay ruling party inherited the rule from the British without so much as a struggle. Unlike the tenacious struggle which once occurred in Indonesia, India and the Philippines. Consequently there was no real intellectual renaissance which made possible the whole idea of cultural identity. To substantiate his damning stricture, Alatas cites the total absence of a core intellectual class of Malays who could have been decisively in dismantling the oligarchies of empire. Most of the Malay leaders he notes without a single exception including Tunku Abdul Rahman were recruited predominantly from the top hierarchy of the civil service trained by the British, and middle class Malay school teachers and civil servants. What this class of elites did was instead throwing out the old and starting from a clean slate – they merely perpetuated the British model of governance. In short, according to Alatas, “they failed to set the pattern,” to paraphrase, it was this missing link which gave rise to the first head of the anatomy of failure. As all they did was merely perpetuate the set pieces of the oligarchies of imperial power, albeit with slight cosmetic changes.
As a consequence, even today, when we survey carefully, the political landscape of the Malaysian scene there remains residues of colonial command and control structures and much of them were built directly into the present day structure of BN.
Even today in Malaysia, politics is divided strictly along racial, sectarian and religious lines (a legacy of imperial divide and conquer) – UMNO which stands for United Malays National Organisation represents the Malay majority. The rest of the component parties which make up the Barisan Nasional coalition are similarly organized; the Malaysia Indian Congress, which has been in existence since 1946. The MCA, the Malaysian Chinese Association. What we see here is no attempt was ever made to hammer down these racial lines to forge one supra national party that was able to successfully encompass these sectarian interest.
As we will see later, the failure on the part of the Malay elite to hammer out one common all encompassing political identity was one of the reasons that contributed to the anatomy of failure.
To be continued.
STRATEGIC ANALYSIS OF THE MALAYSIAN ELECTIONS 2008 – THE ANATOMY OF FAILURE / PART 2
1.2 THE MYTH OF THE ENEMY WITHIN
Even at it’s inception after “merdeka” i.e independence, the idea of “perjuangan” i.e struggle for Malay supremacy, was directed towards preserving Malay hegemony at the apex of the political structure – “perjuangan” contrary to popular myth did not refer to the ongoing process of dismantling the elements of imperialism by continuously rooting out the old elements of colonial power.
Rather “perjuangan,” in the strict Malay sense referred specifically to disarming the “enemy within,” who were considered the Chinese minority. As not only were they comparatively economically better off than the Malays, but since they were centered predominantly in urban nodes. They were often regarded as having a tactical superiority, despite their numerical limitations.
These fears became only too real when the Alliance, the forerunner of the BN, performed disastrously in the May 1969 general elections. In the peninsula, the Alliance won only 66 of the 103 parliamentary seats in the general elections – history it seems repeats itself again, in 1969, Penang was lost, Terengganu was barely holding on. Kelantan fell to pass, and both Perak and Selangor hung precariously.
This was followed by the racial riots of May 13.
To consolidate their fledging political power, in 1972, the Malay elite coined the idea of “ketuanan Melayu” an ideology which states that the Malay people, who are all regarded as “Muslim” under Malaysia’s Kafkaesque legal system, are the original and defining populace of Malaya, and thus should have special status and privileges. This as Darkness and the ASDF noted based on their gaming constructs; set into motion the second head of the anatomy of failure.
As Darkness observed based on a Mordecai 51 Game simulation,
“by pursuing an economic order strictly along racial lines, they (the Malay elite) committed themselves not only on an intellectually unsustainable path, as the long term of effect this policy can only polarize the races and sharpen the sense of estrangement.
Worst still. It was a false economy that reminiscent of Sovietization, as not only was it socially unsustainable but it also meant dismantling the whole idea of meritocracy – even the British did not consider this a sustainable strategy. This was their first big mistake. You can more or less say 99.9% of the problems Malaysia faces today emanated directly from this one policy of promoting the Malays at the expense of the other races.”
The coinage of the bumiputra status along with the NEP (New Economic Policy – which favored bumiputra’s) formed the second head of the anatomy of failure.
1.3 THE AGE OF MONEY POLITICS
The NEP (New Economic Policy) was based loosely on a pseudo socialist system of wealth redistribution in order to redress the economic gap between the Bumiputra’s and the Chinese. The consequence of this strategy led to a plethora of state inspired rights to promote Malays in trade, commerce, education and even politics. It could be said, much of the systematic problems i.e corruption / lack of accountability that mires BN today stems directly from this one corrosive policy.
One theory forwarded by Vollariane head of our strategic think tank is as follows:
“…..wealth distribution, if done correctly works – the communist and socialist proved that conclusively. However in the case of the Malaysian experience it failed because the elements of control and regulating this process of wealth distribution remained within the cloistered apex of the political elite – these people I am sure started with noble intentions, but as time went by, the whole idea got so contorted that not only did it fail to re-distribute wealth. It eventually a syndicate whereby concessions, licenses and favors were regularly given out the to same political elites to support and maintain the very political structure that made possible this corrosive practice. What’s important here is to note that the system has managed to close itself, that’s to say it has become self sustaining very much like an ecology – that’s what happens when you couple money with politics. They become so inextricably linked, they are in effect on the same reality – in effect what we have here is simply institutional corruption very efficient that benefits only a few! You look at the NEP, it’s being around for nearly 50 years and it’s still a dismal failure…why? Simple. Wealth did not percolate downwards as it should have…go one or two steps further and ask why?
One big clue is what happened in the 80’s and 90’s when the Mahatir administration launched one of the worlds biggest get rich quick schemes by privatizing everything from roads to tap water. The problem was the money circulated amongst only in a roomful of Malay elites – the vast majority of Malays, did not benefit from this.
Remember Astroboy, there are two components which make up this corrosive equation; to make money, one needs to have political clout, so politics decouples completely from being the platform of service instead it transformed into the basis for wealth creation – how then can wealth distribution feature alongside this equation? That is why the NEP failed then, now and in the future. It’s a lousy system! …..Where I wonder does serving the people even feature? It cannot!”
“Perjuangan” these days has taken on a whole new meaning, where the party slogan of the early days has bowed out and given way to an elaborate and grotesque system where loyalty is secured directly by monetary rewards. Even at the divisional level of UMNO “habuan” (pay out) culture dominates the social and political landscape. Thus the by words among many party members these days are contracts, concessions and commission – the three C’s which has become the very means of ensuring continued loyalty and support.
This explains why even for the humble post of branch leader, there is often an intense fight for it – it’s an opportunity to get onboard the easy money train. This in turn, spawns another layer of economically inspired corruption that is based on having to continually solicit political loyalty and support through money politics. Hence even at the broad base of the pyramid corruption has successfully percolated right through the entire system. Thus not only do those contesting at party supreme council need to buy whole sale into money politics as the condition precedent for craving out alliances if they want to succeed. They also need to continually replenish their war chest to ward off incumbents and this means elevating corruption as part of the party political process. At the mid band of UMNO the same ritualized process of maintaining power filters through, only this time the war chest is smaller, but the corrosive practice of maintaining command and control remains essentially the same. Even those at the base of the pyramid, at divisional level have to do the same, if they want to remain effectively in power, albeit of a smaller scale and finally at the broad band at the base of the pyramid, at branch level, the same corrosive equation is replicated.
The whole system is rotten right down to the core.
To be con’t
1.4 THE BANE OF POLITICS AND RELIGION.
The third factor which led to the anatomy of failure in the Malaysian political system, resides in the mechanism for perpetuating Malay supremacy via “ketuanan Melayu.” In mark contrast to the framers of the Pancasila (Indonesian constitution); who insisted on every cost on a culturally neutral identity, compatible with democratic or Marxist ideologies, and overarching the vast cultural differences of the heterogeneous population. The Pancasila was meant to be all embracing to all races and did specifically promote any particular ethnic group based specifically on religion.
In the Malaysian experience since the defeat of the Alliance (the forerunner of BN) in 1969 by the PAS faction, the Malay elites embarked on a master plan to consolidate their power by specifically weaving religion into politics to woe back the voters in the Northern rice belts. At first coupling politics with religion proved successful and BN was able to stave off the islamisation of Malaysia – as evidenced by the period of stability which characterized much of the the 70’s till the mid 90’s, but once again the formulaic approach ran directly into a dead end – the critical flaw in UMNO’s strategy suggest even within Islam there exist varying schools of thoughts as to what constitutes the gold standard.
The philosophical divide centers on UMNO’s blend of Islam, Hadhari – which PAS and many ulamahs (religious teachers) consider as a compromised and water down understanding of Islam. PAS like Coca-Cola sells itself as “the real thing” – the quintessential Islamic party that aims to establish Malaysia as a country based on Islamic legal theory derived from the primary sources of Islam, the Quran and Sunnah.
At a time when the air rents out with allegations of corruption, nepotism and money politics, it seems even UMNO has lost it’s capacity to successfully play the religious card to good effect.
This analysis provides a discursive account of BN’s anatomy of failure in the recent general elections. We would like to suggest that what happened in the election is not merely a knee-jerk reaction to mundane issues, but a real fundamental shift possibly even the beginning of a new age of reformation for the Malaysian electorate.
[Lead Writer: Scholar Boy / Astro Boy – support from Vollariane, Memphisto, Cerebus and kadjal / ASDF strategic think tank of the Mercantile Space Guilds / Interstellar Federation of Planners / alongside our newly formed Malaysian read clubs / PJ group and Damansara Permai read club – The Brotherhood Press 2008 - This article has been reconstituted by the FILB and contains previously unreleased material - it was once published in the Strangelands, APICS, Phi Beta Kappa, the Singapore Daily and the Intelligent Singaporean - this has been brought to you by the FILB - 2008]
END. 9989-0038-EP BP 2008
A comprehensive read list is avaliable, pls contact your read group for more info / new readers may request directly from us.
Many thanks / Lead Writer; Scholar Boy.
July 1, 2008
EAM FROM THE INTERSPACING SIGNALS CORPS OF THE BROTHERHOOD BASED ON THE AMDROLLENIAN SYSTEM VECTOR 889/008/327 STRANGELANDS.
A WEAK SIGNAL FROM THE NEWLY COMISSIONED MALAYSIAN DIMITRI CLASS SPACE STATION KDD KOTA RAYA WAS INTERCEPTED BY A REMOTE LISTENING POST / AS 16 @ PRIMUS TIME: 99027.
“…OUR SIGNAL HAS BEEN JAMMED, WE ARE UNABLE TO TRANSMIT. WE HAVE BEEN ATTACKED (STOP).”
WE HAVE EVERY REASON TO BELIEVE THIS IS AN UNPROVOKED ATTACK BY UNKNOWN PARTIES ON THE ASSETS OF OUR CHANNEL PARTNERS.
FOLLOWING THIS INCIDENT THE WAR CABINET HAS BEEN INFORMED IN PRIMUS @ PRIMUS TIME: 100384-9 UNDER ARTICLE 16 (4) EMERGENCY ORDNINANCE ACT – A STATE OF WAR HAS BEEN DECLARED AND WE ARE NOW IN DEFCON 1.
FOLLOWING THIS INCIDENT, THE TURKISH DIPLOMATIC VESSEL KDD ATARUK WAS DESPATCHED TO THE SECTOR TO INVESTIGATE.
AGAIN SIGNAL COMMAND WAS JAMMED.
THE GRAND FLEET OF THE BROTHERHOOD, “THE FIST OF GOD,” HAS BEEN MOBILISED ALONG WITH OUR CHANNEL PARTNERS TO ASSIST IN REINSTATING GEO COM AND ALL COM LINKS.
YOU WILL ALL REPORT TO YOUR POST / RADIO SIGNAL IS ON “OFF” MODE / ALL TRIBILLIUM CLASS SIGNALS VESSELS WILL RDV AT VECTOR 889/008/327. A 200 PARSEC EXCLUSION ZONE HAS BEEN DECLARED UNDER THE ORDINANCE ACT, ANY HOSTILE VESSEL ENTERING THIS ZONE WILL BE SHOT DOWN AT SIGHT.
WE HAVE TO KEEP THE COMMUNICATIONS OPEN!
BY ORDER OF THE COUNCIL OF THE WISE BASED IN PRIMUS ALDENTES PRIME – LONG LIVE THE BROTHERHOOD!
The Incredible Unlikeness of Being of The Sedition Act – A Critique on “Deregulating The Net.” Part 2
June 29, 2008
Q: So let me get it right; you’re saying Cherian and the blogger 15 do not understand the relevance of the sedition act from a legal operation standpoint? How does that measure up to my first question as to what Cherian claims; ‘we don’t need the government; this can be handled by the community?’
A: Missy Dotty: I am sorry. I am not very good at giving interviews. This is my first time, so I need to keep telling myself that I shouldn’t allow my statements to fly off the handle.
No I am not for one moment suggesting Dr George does not understand the relevance of the Sedition Act. He is an eminently qualified scholar and I am certain he appreciates the gravity of the issues along with the likes of Mr Arun Mahizhnan who also happens to be an old hand at the wheel.
On that score I am certain. As for the others, I reserve comment. Perhaps the reportage in the Strait Times was incomplete; I would prefer to give the good doctor and the rest of the bloggers the benefit of the doubt. I am certain they all know about this.
What I am sharing after all is hardly specialized knowledge.
Having disclaimed myself; what is less certain is what does Dr George mean when he says:
‘There is merit in civil society doing it on its own…’ Is he implying there’s no need to depend on the Government to regulate social values?’
I don’t know to be perfectly honest with you. Yes, sedition as a body of law certainly has an unsavory history; that’s undeniably; but bear in mind sedition laws are also frequently called social barometers, as they are reflective of what society is prepared or not to stomach i.e they are in effect, one the clearest manifestation of what ‘civil society’ is willing to tolerate – a very accurate and reliable of public sentiment.
That leads us to the question; if sedition laws are able to produce a story that manages to articulate the ‘collective’ chorus within our society: presumably to connect all the missing linkages to effectively make up our sense of identity, roots, and founding.
Then pray tell how contextually and substantively different can Dr George’s ‘higher principled’ instrument be to the current Sedition Act?
Nevertheless, once again, one should always give him and his associates the benefit of the doubt; they’re terribly intelligent after all to have come up with this whole idea.
Q: So Dotty can I say you are an unabashed supporter of the sedition act? You see nothing principally wrong with it?
A: Missy Dotty: No I am not an unabashed supporter of the Sedition Act.
As I took the trouble to point out earlier; I do have reservations and even misgivings concerning it’s less than savory historical lineage.
If memory serves; I even described it as a “crude instrument” of soliciting compliance. However I do recognize the practical necessity of having the requisite latitude in law and the pressing need to act speedily and accurately when it comes to online hate speech. This I have described as the good side of the sedition Act. I am merely trying to point out that other side that may have been lost to the blogger 15 and our readers.
A: [Montburan cuts in] Allow me to add on to the operational aspects of the Sedition Act that Dotty shared.
What underpins the Sedition Act? Cherian and the 15 bloggers have not asked themselves this basic fundamental question.
All they have done as Dotty rightly pointed out is omit, bend, exaggerate, invent and embellish the account by claiming the Sedition Act is evil and off they go.
Do I support the moral position of the Sedition Act? No I do not, but as Dotty rightly pointed out; the Sedition Act remains effective in hate speech and in cases of sectarian and faith incitement, but just to defer with Dotty very slightly; it’s continued usage is really a function of necessity rather than any flowery rationale one may seek out in jurisprudence or any where else in the legal compedium.
The rationale of the Sedition Act is NOT premised on the idea of stomping on the little Joe Public and denying his elemental right to free speech.
That may very well occur but its incidental to it’s main purpose of stopping hate speech dead on its tracks like an elephant gun.
Cherian sets out to argue the fairy tale that the government is not required. He does this with admirable finesse by appealing to our sensibilities that the sedition act is morally abhorrent. That’s obvious! No one disputes for one moment, it’s abhorrent; not even me!
But the account remains incomplete; as Dotty rightly mentioned how do we solve the operational side of tacking hate speech? This Cherian doesn’t share with us; we are not even told how this may be accomplished.
What if I said to you the Sedition Act has nothing to do with jurisprudential underpinnings; nothing to do with law even; and everything to do with mashing the gears of the machinery of justice.
This becomes all to clear when we look at how the Sedition Act works; Here the misgivings of Cherian becomes all too clear.
Firstly, he does say through Yawning Bread the entire process will be open and transparent when it comes to dealing with those who have run foul of social norms; but where offers no proposal for how evidentiary material would even be obtained; tell me under what authority will service providers such as Starhub or Singtel release privileged IP information? They cannot due the need to comply with data protection guidelines. This can only be obtained by a court order. How will the evidentiary material be classified? Again the 15 bloggers offer no solution here as to how they might actually do that highly contextual, intra-executive task, which even lawyers and judges have historically deemed to be outside their purview and expertise, as this is handled by the law enforcement agencies.
So when we talk about the innards and guts of the Sedition Act it is a process. And what is the rationale of this process? Why does Dotty keep on harping on that it’s an operational rather than a jurisprudential argument?
Because the Sedition Act belongs to a genre of enabling acts like the ISA which best translates the principle of zero-tolerance into action – though no govt in the world can actually afford to have literally no tolerance at all – the whole intellectual nub goes back to an article that George Kelling co-wrote in Atlantic Monthly in 1981. Now at Rutgers University, in his article “Broken Windows” Kelling made public detailed research in the South Bronx area of NYC. If you broke one window there in a deserted block and mended it the following morning, the building would stay intact. But if you didn’t mend it, every window would be broken within 72 hours.
And here you need to ask yourself how many windows would have been broken by then? If the blogger 15 is given the luxury of time to dilly dally their way to bring the offender to task?
I really don’t believe they (the 15 bloggers or their friends) even know how to get on top of this problem of hate speech and racial incitement sensibly.
We are not talking about a simple matter of what is right or wrong here in the moral context as it remains a question of practical necessities: how do we hunt down and bring to justice the one hooligan who threw the stone that broke the one window – the goal is to keep it to only one and no more – that’s the real challenge the 15 bloggers would do well to consider deeper before they go about saying:
“’There is merit in civil society doing it on its own…There’s no need to depend on the Government to regulate social values.’
Closing statement by Missy Dotty: Thank you very much Y2K for giving us all in the read club a real voice to participate in this deregulation debate.
Baby Darkness used to shut us down regularly as he claimed (real or imagined) no one is interested to read the ruminations of read club members.
I remember this hurt me and the others terribly, but the boy general can be cruel.
My hope is we will be given a real voice by the newly created FILB. Indeed this is a very good start.
Thank You and I would like to wish the 15 bloggers and their associates good luck.
[Dear Valued Readers,
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Yen Kiat most people call me Y2K. I am the chief curator and director-general of the newly created Free Internet Library Board based in Primus Aldentes Prime.
I first proposed the idea of creating the library in the virtual to Harphoon a few months ago. I told Harphoon, I wanted it to be independent from the BP. The ideal hopefully is to integrate the many different knowledge based out there in blogosphere under one roof without fear and favor.
Hopefully this will one day all add up to a valuable epistemological account of what was once said in our beloved internet.
When I met Darkness he asked me only one question; why? I replied what we say in the internet is important not only today but also tomorrow. History remains our only means of making sense of who we are? It’s worth preserving.
What’s been recorded is our capacity to make sense of a fast changing world.
My hope is this effort can somehow supplement and even extend our understanding of how best to make sense of the challenges we as netizens face today and tomorrow.
Darkness mooted my idea in their Great Hall quoting my words even. I think it’s their parliament and within two days, they (the brotherhood) constructed a building. I am supposed to give it a grand sounding name and design the logo, but I haven’t really decided what and how it should look like or what it should ideally even represent.
The building looks stern like everything in Primus with its ordered columns and classical lines; I told Darkness, it could do with a courtyard with a few trees; he saw to that. He seems to share our vision.
As I walked alongside Darkness in Primus surveying this new building; he told me constructing anything in the virtual is the easy part. I remembered at one point in our walk, he took out an orb and created a period fountain in front of me in this new courtyard that I had specially requested; he said it’s a replica of the one he once saw in Palermo, Italy and it was faithful right down to the last brick. I was impressed, but he went on to say, this is the easy part the hard part is breathing life into it – getting as he said people to while away the day as they mull over life here.
He said, this was his gift to the FILB.
Little did I know a few days later the man called Darkness would walk right out of the game.
I thought it would be good to share this all of you.
Thank you for reading the FILB.
[This interview series has been brought to you by the FILB courtesy of the IMG and the Mercantile Interspacing Guild – The Brotherhood Press 2008]
The Incredible Unlikeness of Being of The Sedition Act – A Critique on “Deregulating The Net.” Part 1
June 29, 2008
[This is the first interview conducted by the Free Internet Library Board. In this series, the FILB will present questions to Missy Dotty and Montburan concerning the proposal by the 15 bloggers and their friends to ‘deregulate the net.’
For a 360° overview of this ongoing debate please refer to this excellent compilation
Click Internet Deregulation
Missy Dotty is an expert in IT & International law. Montburan is an expert in cross border legal risk management and mitigation; both are lawyers.
Missy Dotty is the owner of the site ‘JUST STUFF,’ that’s currently commandeered by the Brotherhood.
Montburan used to head the notorious Siglap read club (one of the strongest critics of Darkness and the brotherhood movement), the largest readership in the Brotherhood Press – this is my first interview series.
At the end of it, there's a message to all readers from the FILB which I manage along with 3 assistants.
Please take five minutes to read it and please consider supporting us.
I do hope you all enjoy this interview series and apologize, if it doesn’t come across as slick as what the BP used to roll out – Happy Reading!
Question by Y2K to Missy Dotty:
Cherian, the ‘media expert’ has been quoted as saying, ‘There is merit in civil society doing it on its own…There’s no need to depend on the Government to regulate social values.’ Proposal for Internet freedom in Spore
How realistic do you consider his appraisal of the strengths and weakness of our government and the new role the 15 bloggers and their friends envisage for the internet?
A: [Missy Dotty] How realistic is it? Well that really depends on a few issues.
I am not certain what he means by “no need to depend..” If he is referring to decamping from the Sedition Act, then I believe that may create rather than solve the problem of hate speech and incitement in the net.
In my view a large chunk of whether Dr George’s position is viable requires us to look at whether what he is proposing to offer is an improvement over what the law of sedition act currently offers to both the accused and the aggrieved parties?
Before we begin a critique on what Dr George said I believe we would do ourselves a favor including myself to re-look at the elements which makes up the law of sedition.
Where did it come from? What’s the philosophy that governs it? What are it’s strengths and weaknesses?
The law as I keep telling Baby Darkness is really like one of those medieval museums housing weapons of antiquity; where each enabling act is very much like a rapier, epee or halberd.
Some weapons are crude others refine but what undergrids them is they are all without exception double edge i.e some laws just like some weapons are designed to solicit compliance i.e the whip, it’s enough to crack it to get everyone to fall in line, but they can also be used to demand compliance directly.
For example; In July 1998, the Singapore government enacted the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Act (CMA). The CMA prohibits the unauthorized interception of computer communications. You can say this is the perceived ‘good’ law very much like a humane weapon like pepper spray or a tasser gun; as it protects the vast majority of computer users from indiscriminate disclosure of information.
However CMA can also stray into the ‘bad’ domain since there are certain provision that provides the police with additional powers of investigation, and makes in an offense to refuse to assist the police in an investigation. The CMA also grants law enforcement broad power to access data and encrypted material when conducting an investigation. This power of access requires the consent of the Public Prosecutor.
So what we see here is every law even the seemingly ‘good’ has a reserve to produce ‘bad’ – it’s really a double edged sword – what I am trying to say here is we should not be too hasty to take the law at just face value; whether its ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is really a contextual question that depends on the broader considerations of what confronts society; for example although many western countries vilified us for having the ISA.
Following the Sept 11 attacks even the Bush administration reauthorization the USA Patriot Act, an anti-terrorism law, which incidentally conferred upon the law enforcement agencies certain elements which were even worse than our ISA.
My point is this; we need should never ascribe a tone of finality to what is and isn’t a good enabling act simply based on dogma and this applies to even the Sedition Act.
Now when we talk about the Sedition Act most people seem to only register the nasty and ‘bad’ things about it; that sort of first impression is perfectly understandable as sedition is really a crude instrument of terror that has historically been used to send a chill rippling through the crowd.
However, that ‘first impression’ of the Sedition Act in my view has to be misleading and even inaccurate; we need to decamp from the blogger 15 position of associating sedition with state inspired heavy handedness per se.
I really don’t believe that’s a fair appraisal in the ‘good’ against ‘bad’ score card.
I don’t disagree much of the which undergrids sedition certainly supports their (15 bloggers) position as sedition is really the worst in the rogue gallery of good, bad and ugly ; so again it’s perfectly understandable why most people view sedition as morally abhorrent and even ideologically repulsive very much like the ISA.
As sedition operates symbolically to silence and usually the beneficiary is the state, but here like the CMA, there is also a ‘good’ side, especially when it is directed to online hate speech and incitement which is usually considered as ‘time urgent’ sort of crimes i.e the gestation period of a flare up is often short; here sedition act allows the law enforcement agencies to be mobilized speedily to identify the offender; there’s no lag; secondly, it’s a very effective way of gathering evidence without too much fuss; so what one needs to understand the Sedition Act serves the operational criteria of law enforcement agencies.
Q: Y2K : You said the Sedition Act is directed towards hate speech which is a time urgent sort of crime – can you explain this “time urgent” criteria further for the benefit of our readers?
A: Missy Dotty: Gladly. Some social challenges not necessarily hate speech and incitement, but even national emergencies do pose real challenges to the enforcement agencies and even lawyers and judges, let me give you an example of a “time urgent” scenario; in 2003, Singapore added SARS to the Quarantine Act, a law that had previously been so dormant that most lawyers including silly me didn’t even know it existed. This was because of the time urgent necessity to contact trace carriers and identify the nodes through thermal-imaging detection of body temperatures in public places. So what we have here is a conflict between the law and the right to privacy, freedom of movement etc. As containment, quarantine even forced examination featured on individuals suspected of having SARS. The SARS episode highlighted the need for speed and accuracy and it vexed many lawyers for example what’s the implication on installing closed circuit camera’s to ensure suspected carriers remain at home and required them to appear before the camera at specific intervals? What right or authority do health officials have to spot check on the movements of suspected carriers? How can quarantine be effectively enforced without encroaching on false imprisonment? What right do health authorities have order phone operators to block any attempt to forward home phone calls to mobile phones to make sure that the individual does not leave the home? Do health officials have a right to use electronic wristbands if suspected individuals do not answer phone calls? What we see here is the clearest example of how ‘time urgent’ and ‘pressing’ scenarios place undue demands on the law requiring policy makers to often make compromises between form and function.
The question we really need to ask ourselves is whether hate speech and incitement can escalate to those levels of complexity that we as a nation were once confronted with in SARS crisis – I cannot and will not answer that question as I am not either a sociologist or a media expert, but as a someone who knows the operational side of the law, I believe it may not be very prudent to rule out the need for taking a zero tolerance stance and moving to bring those to account speedily in times of crisis; lawyers, judges and the mata-mata cannot be twiddling their fingers and wondering what to do, especially where sectarian and partisan feelings are stoked up? In my view, we need to prepare ourselves for the worst case scenario and in this regard the Sedition Act has no comparative equal, not in law at least. So with due respect to Dr George, I believe the role of the government is indispensable here.
To Be Con’t
[This Interview Series has been brought to you by the FILB - The Brotherhood Press 2008]
To Read The Second Part of this Interview Series Click Here!
June 27, 2008
(a) Are They Screwing The Right Hole With ‘Community Moderation?’
In studying the Internet or indeed any profound technological medium where free and hate speech features. There’s always the risk of running aground, if we begin our enquiry by demanding what is genuinely new?
For almost every ‘change’ has some precedent in human history.
In my view this observation is significant from a legal planning POV as it allows stakeholders to fashion an optic to view this whole matter of hate speech and incitement in the internet in it’s proper perspective.
What we need to understand here from the onset is neither hate speech or racial incitement is a problem that is specific and unique to only the internet. Hate speech and incitement has been around since the beginning of recorded history – it’s hardly novel.
This brings into stark focus; the impetus for ‘change’ can never be based on ‘novelty’ but rather ‘salience’ when we decide on the issue of whether hate and racist speech should be subject to “community moderation” i.e what elements of social behavior does a new technology make particularly ‘salient’ that went relatively unnoticed before?
Identifying the salient allows us to focus on the relevant instead of falling into the hyperbole trap of getting distracted by the usual litany of ‘noise’ that so often features in a debate concerning hate and racist speech.
I feel it’s vitally important to re-state the need for scale and perspective here by reaffirming the ‘novelty’ and ‘salient’ bench mark.
Allow me to give you a real case study which I was directly involved in to illustrate the importance of differentiating between the ‘salient’ and the ‘novel.’
Glue sniffing was identified by criminologist in the UK during the early 80’s as a relatively new problem which posed a challenge to the British Penal Code.
There policy lawyers i.e lawyers who formulate enablong acts were confronted with a veritable hubris; do we create another law to deal with this new menace? Perhaps we should uutsource this to the social services? Ammend the law; or even create a committee run by the minors court?
When the ‘salient’ i.e causation was eventually identified by the social studies group based in Tyne i.e the predominant cause was identified as the easy supply of glue to minors; this led to a very clever way of curbing further abuse of this new hallucinogenic which posed a great social challenge to the social services.
Till this day, glue sniffing itself is NOT against the law, but it is an offence, under the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985 (UK) to supply a solvent to a young person under 18 if there is reasonable cause to believe that the fumes might be inhaled.
What we see here is the onus or what one calls in layman’s language the ‘gate keepers’ role shifts from consumer to the supplier; in the long run profiling such laws based on the ‘salient’ as opposed to the ‘novelty’ factor creates laws which effectively protects minors and offers ample room for rehabilitation instead of resorting to strict liability and punitive measures which would otherwise victimize them.
What we see here is not only a very effective way of resolving a social conundrum at ‘source point,’ by accurately appraising the ‘novelty’ and ‘salient’ drivers; but also a very clever usage of the law that proposes to set punitive measures directly on those who are most responsible for this menace.
Now if we juxtapose this case study on what the blogger 15 are trying to accomplish by attempting to set up a ‘consultative committee.’
We may need to examine whether the substantive reasons behind their motivations to do so is based on either the ‘salient’ or ‘novelty?’ – what disturbs me is hardly any effort is made to draw the nexus between causation and solution forming / this in my view is a serious lapse – if it’s the latter i.e hate and racist speech is novel, then we may rightly draw the logical conclusion, this committee will have absolutely no bearing on alleviating the problem associated with hate speech and incitement in the net.
Central to the whole debate is does the advent of the internet emphasise and problematise a new or a old problem? i.e is hate speech and incitement a new phenomenon?
I don’t wish to embellish the outcome; so I will reserve final comment for the time being and leave this to the reader to decide.
(b) Is Hate and Racist Speech an Old Problem Dressed Up As New?
My second point is paraphrased as a caveat and it’s a corollary of the whole ‘salient’ and ‘novelty’ formulation that I have just elucidated; in this area, the thematic questions would take the shape of: Q: Are these negative aspects we are increasingly registering in the internet more pervasive, or more central than it was before? Or is there another reason accounting for these spikes? Can perhaps the visibility, trackability and traceability of the internet medium account for these sudden increases in what we term as racist and hate speech?
This prompts us to consider the asymmetrical question: whether those less desirable features of internet culture such as hate speech and incitement may well have always been present? Is it conceivable only now they appear to us with a special sense of importance or urgency?
This caveat needs to be underscored as the phenomenon of all technological change modifies and disrupts social relations. It foregrounds certain elements and aspects of social life, making them more central, more salient, more important than they were before.
That caveat also helps us critique the emerging direction of what this committee proposed by these 15 bloggers are trying to accomplish.
I see two disturbing trends in the ongoing debate concerning the issue of “community moderation.”
The first is the increasing assumption that reliance on law is somehow equatable to some thing less desirable or perhaps a manifestation of state inspired heavy handedness – I don’t agree with this simplistic assumption.
As Missy Dotty mentioned in the first segment of this series; far from regressing sedition laws are increasingly being used to tension the ties within society. Her illustration points to the recent anti holocaust legislation which makes denial a criminal offence in the EU – I would go further and cite an Australian precedent where in 2005 the Federal Government argued that the reasons for revitalising the sedition offences were to: (a) prevent terrorism; (b) protect the integrity of the electoral process; (c) protect public order from threats posed by inter-group violence; and (d) prevent seditious or treasonous speech in the classic sense. Now what’s worth emphasizing here these new reforms replace the old sedition laws with five new offences!
Why is this observation worth underscoring? It harks back to my second point concerning the caveat, I presented earlier : “whether those less desirable features of internet culture such as hate speech and incitement may well have always been present, but now they appear to us with a special sense of importance or urgency?”
My view is it’s important to ascribe a sense of scale to this whole issue of using laws to manage speech not only in the net but also out of it. I am not forwarding for one moment the notion if 27 countries in the EU and the Australians are extending their sedition laws; then we should follow suit; but what I am saying is Singapore is certainly not North Korea! And no where near the level of unreasonableness that would confront the typical challenge of any society in this age!
If you examine the text, tone and measured discourses of the blogger 15, you will find that at no time to the even attempt to scale our sedition and even section 33 Films Act with this glaring reality – the reality is simply this; we are living in complex times which exerts tremendous pressures on society and the law; the law simply needs to reinvent itself to accommodate these changes; this is very far from the dystopian landscape which they have painted; its inaccurate and a misrepresentation of fact to say that our reliance on laws to manage hate and racist speech is inconsistent with the reality that’s often played out in the international scene.
(c) Will This Committee Proposed By The 15 Bloggers Prove Relevant And Effective?
My third and final point relates to the efficacy of this committee which has been proposed by the blogger 15.
It would appear based on a cursory examination, the only reason why they (the blogger 15) have proposed the formation of such a committee is the wide held belief digital technologies foster a type of interactivity that’s all together unique and cannot be effectively regulated by the law.
How robust is that assumption?
Granted, the internet certainly allows ordinary people to route around traditional media gatekeepers and offer new ways of appropriating and transforming what people usually find in newspapers and magazines.
But here is the catch. These same features of the new technologies that empower ordinary individuals also creates a very old problem dressed up as new; social conflict.
That should not be surprising. We often think of new technology as something that liberates us, if we are optimists, or threatens us, if we are pessimists. Technology produces either utopia or dystopia. But what technology more often does is create social conflicts which are no different from those that once took place in the age of sail or when people had to manage with candlelight.
Conflict be in the internet or even the jungle is one of the same and this is where one needs to ask which instrument serves the imperative of freedom of speech better; is it the ruminations of a committee that can only seem to agree to disagree on so many key points? Or is it the crystal clear ark light of the unambiguous law with its historical precedence, text, history and reason?
Which one would you rather trust if you’re standing in the dock facing a sedition charge?
At the end of the day that’s what it really boils down too; the smallest common denominator; the small man; in my view, if what’s on the table can’t even give him a level running fieldt; then you don’t even have such a thing as a right, as no comparative system even exist – it’s time to stop and think.
[This is article has been brought to you courtesy of the newly created Free Internet Library Board – 2008 / The participants are Catherine The Great, the site owner of “JUST STUFF” Missy Dotty, Montburan and Prima Delli .This message from Darkness: http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=G1xiFRccd88 this article was generated by a N-95 program courtesy of the Mercantile Guild – FILB 2008]
Are You Getting Only One Version From The Online Citizen? Never Fear, The Free Internet Library Service Is Always Glad To Be of Service – Read & Learn Abt “Community Regulation”
June 26, 2008
How do we actually go about the whole business of crafting a “freer” net? Does it entail dismantling the law regulating censorship? Do we really need such a thing as a grand all seeing pineappled eye committee that goes about awarding good conduct points for what is regularly published online? Coming to think of it; what actually is freedom of the internet along with the whole notion of free speech? Does a “free for all” really translate into a feral and dystopian net as it’s so often depicted? How accurate is that assessment?
You know what? I don’t know about you, but all this can get terribly confusing even for someone as dumb as me. For instance, we’ve all seen the “deregulate the net” flag with its half opened padlock and key symbol? Presumably, that’s supposed to convey the gist of what these 15 bloggers along with 30 supporters are trying to accomplish; freeing the net (they claim) from government regulation is going to revivify it with a higher degree of freedom and somehow seed the greater good and drive out evil – but what if I said to you, what’s been mooted will narrow rather than expand? Corrode rather than fortify the idea of free speech?
You see these past few weeks I have been spending time mostly in the baby chair with the likes of legal eagles like Missy Dotty, Montburan, Prima Delli and at least five other legal experts in this area; I’ve got to level with you, the brotherhood lacks experts in this area and these ladies from the various read clubs have been kind enough to take the time to explain to me using over sized crayons some of the misgivings of the blogger 15.
I am going to share with all of you the gist what I have been able to glean from this encounter – hopefully, it will assist you in making an informed decision concerning this whole business of “deregulating the net.”
(1) What’s the Litmus Test To a Freer Net?
According to Prima Delli:
“If you really want to understand this whole business of freedom of speech, the law and the proposal to set up this internet committee – you need to reverse the question and ask what exactly isn’t good for free speech in the net? If you don’t do that, you’ve just confuse yourself and the readers even further.”
As I discovered, this approach manages to winnow the hype from the salient. So let’s dive into it!
What do we see here? OK, for one free speech has absolutely nothing to do with concentrating power in the hands of a committee; it doesn’t matter whether they are bloggers or even a bunch of cookie cutters; the very essence of “free” in the “speech,” requires the whole idea of astudiously breaking up hierarchies, oligarchies and monopolies of power into ever smaller pieces instead of concerntrating them in the hands of only a few.
Here you need to consider whether the creation of a bloggers committee serves that end of breaking the monopoly of power?
Personally, I consider this the litmus or acid test whether something is really “free” or simply marketed as “free” or “new improved” and let me share with you why – As every social organism and it doesn’t matter whether it’s social; political; economical or technologically driven has a natural tendency to move from chaotic to hierarchical. That’s to say, given enough time and motivation; they will ALL without exception begin the task of dedicating themselves to empire or temple building.
If you peruse through human history, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the oligarchy of pencil sharpeners or a bunch of online gamers, all of them eventually aspire to the power quadrant where the goal is to corner the market and establish command & control; every oligarchy true to the Darwinian lexicon eventually migrates to assume some semblance of order, shape or form to fulfill this one organization; where eventually, not only does it monopolize the information flow by attempting to insert themselves strategically somewhere in the supply chain, but it also allows them to color and mythologize their keep and eventually what we are really left with is a very “processed” version of the truth; that’s really good for nothing except passive consumption which usually only creates docile audiences that manages to keep the elites in power. There in a nutshell is a brief lifecycle of how the whole idea of the “free internet” degenerates into mud when people start proposing the idea of the temple building which they try to pass off as the necessary goodness that we cannot do without.
As I said in the very beginning of this write up; one really needs to go beyond the marketing tag line and the symbolism of the half open lock and floating key and this is where I will share with you what I believe to be a free internet.
(2) Free Speech Should Never Be Confused With Sedition & Hate Speech
As Missy Dotty, the owner of the site “Just Stuff” that we are currently raiding mentioned:
“It’s a common lay mistake to muddy the whole idea of freedom of speech with the whole idea of online hate or even racist speech.
This problem is especially aggravated in the case of the bloggers 15.
As from what little I have been able to make out so far; what they have effectively done is lump; the internet; film and publications into basically one general heading.
In short, that’s bound to create problems. Let me share with you why?
What we need to understand here is although most lay people consider these information delivery mediums as just genres, each medium is legally very specific and carries with it – a very distinctive methodology which is often used to resolve disputes according to their respective text, tradition, precedent, and reason.
Many of these have developed independently and literally gone off in different legal trajectories – so when one lumps it all together, the danger presents it’self; they will tug and pull in different directions amplifying the errors further.
If you ask most observers who have some experience in international law & policy formulation, I believe they are almost unanimous regarding this issue; it’s almost impossible to talk about the internet, film and publication censorship under one breathe.
You are not going to get very far with that sort of flawed model, not when it comes to something as complex as regulating the internet using a non elected committee.
Here we need to be mindful, what they say is really not as important as how it manages to scale out against the legal framework.
That’s to say, it may sound good natured and even reasonable and possibly even intelligent, but if it fails to effectively harmonize with the existing legal framework; then in the long run what it will happen is it will cause more problems than resolve them.
That creates not only unnecessary confusion but produces “double speak” and we need to be especially mindful of this theoretical possibility. As what the blogger 15 may be proposing may very possibly even undermine the integrity of the current penal system relating to regulating hate speech.
This is evident when we look very closely at how the 15 bloggers justify the whole idea of community regulation and how they seem to equate the whole issue of freedom of speech with over bearing state inspired interference.
The general formulation which they seem to advance is as follows; the higher reliance of state laws such as the sedition act = heavy handed use of the law = draconian use of the law presumably at the expense of freedom of speech.
This is patently not true Baby Darkness – are you listening to me? Stop playing with your peas!
Now bear this in mind Darkness* – freedom of speech as a legal school of thought has very little to do with hate speech. This may sound odd to the lay man, but in law they are treated as separate entities for very good and practical reasons.
Neither is increased emphasis on the sedition act necessarily translatable into a greater erosion of elemental rights in freedom of speech i.e conclusive evidentiary indication that a regime is draconian or even over bearing in possibly denying it’s citizenry an elemental right to free speech.
I wish to make this clear by way of a recent illustration; recently the Justice Ministers of the European Union agreed to make “incitement to racism and xenophobia” a criminal offence in all 27 member states.That means it’s a criminal offence to deny the occurrence of the Nazi holocaust. What we see here is the clearest example of what I mean when I say hate speech has absolutely nothing to do with the whole idea of elemental rights concerning the right to free speech. As what is actually being addressed in Brussels is the issue that pertains solely to the incitement to violence i.e the sedition act.
However, if one peruses through the discourse of the blogger 15 and their associates very carefully; this is often lumped together and treated as “one reality.” No where Baby Darkness do we even see an attempt to categorise, differentiate and delienate what is meant between valid free speech which deserves protection and hate speech which doesn’t deserve it!
IMO, this has to be an oversight that can only confuse the entire discussion further and this throws a long shadow on the whole idea of “community moderation.”
I think readers would do well to acquaint themselves with the finer issues relating to free speech and salient components of the sedition act as from what I am able to make out from the very limited discourse that’s floating around the internet – This is jugular Baby Darkness! The issue of free speech, sedition and incitement needs to be detangled and treated as separated discussion issues – this omission is not only an over simplification of how the law works but it also paints a lopsided picture of how freedom of speech as a school of thought is supposed to apply sensibly.
Here hate speech is treated as sedition and legally at least it is quarantined from all the protection that one usually associates with the first amendment right of the freedom of speech and expression.”
(3) How Will Community Regulation Harmonize With The Penal Code?
Another flaw in the blogger 15 submission was highlighted by Montburan of the Siglap read club.
“I think we need to go further into the whole idea of ‘free speech’ as an epsitomology rather than just throwing this term around and equating it with the loose idea of free speech = the right to say anything under the sun.
The term, “free speech” in the legal sense is scapel specific and was defined by Meiklejohn, who argued that it’s NOT important that everyone gets to speak, but that everything WORTH saying was said.
Implicit within this definition is the need to reject and even exclude “by force” [legal force] everything that is considered antithetical to free speech and this obviously includes hate speech and racial incitement - so what we can see here is free speech first demands the precondition of perceived “quality,” which in the Meiklejohn sense hinges on whether it is “worthy.”
Now it would seem this term “worhty” is equatable to the whole idea of “social norms” which is so often vaunted by the 15 bloggers – but bear in mind, this is not a consensual or even social definition as it remains one that is strictly defined by the “norms” one usually associates with either criminal or civil law i.e the definition of the reasonable man standard / Oliver Wendell Holmes - so this really begs the question; what are these 15 bloggers talking about when they propose to oversee the affairs of the net using the social metrics of “social norms?”
We know what they are referring too is not even a creature of law; so what is it really? Who decides on the whole issue of what is and isn’t a “social norm?” Are they referring to some timeless definition that has a universal appeal? I hope not as there is really no such creature in existence that’s why laws exist in codified form and even that’s not enough. We need the doctrine of precedent along with judges and lawyers to produce the answers. And even then we get it terribly wrong sometimes!
What I need to emphasize here is this; this is a terribly complex legal issue that should only be handled by professionals such as the law enforcement agencies, DPP and perhaps their legal peers and let me share with you why as I don’t want to come across as a territorial snob?
There is a very sensible reason why this should be the case; as I can very well argue if it were coursed through this so called committee which these 15 bloggers propose to form; then this may have the effect of prejudicing the criminal proceedings and may even deny the accused a fair trail in court?
What I want to underscore here is we are talking about the fundamental right to a fair trial here i.e preserving the integrity of the legal process; and we really need to ask ourselves whether the formation of this committee adds or subtracts value in that regard?
I don’t see how it adds even a modicum of value as the issue of legitimacy is still very much up in the air. Be that as it may, I really don’t want to go down that road.
I want to emphasize here when I use the term “legitimacy,” here it’s surgically precise in so far as I am not referring to something as a fuzzy moral or inalienable social right, but rather one that derives it legitimacy from the constitution i.e the right of every accused to be presumed innocent unless proven otherwise and this burden of proof is extendable to even someone who is allegedly commits an offence under the sedition act – what we really need to consider is the legal justifications which makes possible the formation of this committee in the first place; by what constitutional authority do they derive they mandate to even pass judgment on others. I want to emphasize this is very different from an association or a professional body; as here there is a fatal gap in their logic; associations can discipline their members; but if you examine how they work; they have a right to do so as most of their members are subscribers. However, in this particular case the committee which the blogger 15 are attempting to set do not even possess that basic justificatory basis to exercise their power over the rest of netizens in blogosphere – for one they did not even seek the referendum – neither were they given a mandate and its arguable they do not even have the legal basis to impose their definition of netiquette on the rest of us.
I need to emphasize here this is only the tip of the iceberg as we can we go much further to take issue with whether this committee as I said earlier has even the locus standi i.e legal right to adjudicate over hate speech in the net without at least undermining the authority of the entire criminal law system in Singapore!
From my assessment, they are in effect proposing setting up of a kangaroo court and that of course raises the specter of whether they even have the constitutional right to do so? I think what I need to emphasize here again is this; you do not need to have real power to prejudice the rights of an accused to a fair trail; and this really reduces the entire argument of the blogger 15 to something slightly higher than the “very dubious.”
Especially, when they claim time and again quite misleadingly; they do not have any “real power.” What I need to impress under the strongest possible terms is the very semblance of power is usually enough to prejudice a fair trail. That’s one of the reasons why in contentious legal cases a news black out is usually de riguer as that’s usually the only way to ensure the accused has the benefit of good legal light – I therefore have firm reservations whether the setting up of this committee is even possible legally – I think what we need to understand here is the right of the accused i.e the person who allegedly made those seditious remarks deserves to be protected – and this naturally leads us to consider very seriously what is the best means to guarantee this?
Are you writing this all down Darkness*?????????????”
[This is article has been brought to you courtesy of the newly created Free Internet Library Board – 2008 / The participants are Missy Dotty, the site owner of “JUST STUFF.” Montburan and Prima Delli who used to head the Siglap Read Club / Catherine the Great, Holland V Read Club / - The brotherhood is appealing for lawyers with International Law training to step forward! This message from Darkness: http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=G1xiFRccd88 [ Please note *’ The brotherhood press has not record of “Bambi” – “Bad Boy” – “Baby Bambi Boy” - in its record. We assume these references are directed to the personage of one “Darkness” and the FILB has made the necessary changes – this article was generated by a N-95 program courtesy of the Mercantile Guild – FILB 2008]
[Pls note this is a EP version, the EV of this article runs for 30 pages and is available upon request from the FILB]
(1) University of Sydney, The Julius Stone Address 2003.
(2) Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment, and Director, The Information Society Project, Yale Law School.
(3) Meiklejohn et al, Political Freedom: The Constitutional Powers of the People (1960)
(4) Prof David Cole; “Not a suicide pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency – Nov 16. 2006 issue The New York Review.
Read The Part II Here!
Do Want To Get A Full Sweep of Community Moderation?
It’s Only A Click Away [Brought To You By The FILB]
June 23, 2008
“Why do I call them urination experts?…..very simple, if you listen to them long enough. Don’t be surprise, if you even end up putting your hands up for toilet breaks….there is a very good and simple reason why this will come to past….what they are suggesting disables, rather than enables, it exacerbates rather than relieves, it is in short the root of the problem rather than a viable solution.
If you don’t believe me go and ask anyone who has a firm grasp of constitutional law. I can guarantee you a few things here. Firstly, you will NOT even find a single constitutional law expert, NOT even one, who would give their proposal for ‘community regulation’ the green light – why? I am openly challenging them to find me just one. I am not asking for 10 here, not even 5, just one will do very nicely and I will gladly eat my shoe with ketchup!
They Cannot! You know why? Here we need to appreciate a few things; firstly, it is conceivable, they (the 15 bloggers and their associates) have run afoul of every single fundamental rule and convention concerning what it takes to even create a quorum that proposes to have such a wide bearing over the affairs of our internet.
Here, there’s a critical distinction between the need to abide by the “due process” i.e the social convention of fundamental human rights and mere trade off analysis. Both cannot be lumped together into one convenient hubris just to fashion a justification for change - not if, the imperative is to remain legitimate in the eyes of all.
We would like to believe this whole debate centers on only the issue of how best to crave out a solution to get on top of racist and hate speech in our net. However, one needs to be mindful, there’s more here that meets the eye, just because certain unfavorable conditions exist does not in any way justify ANY approach, not if it runs counter to every tenet that demands power should be exercised judicially, wisely and with regard to certain “due process” which are deemed fundamental to the rights of man; look here! I do not like this criteria any more than the man next to me, as I happen to be an engineer and I don’t care much for it, but even I cannot elide it, not to my greater detriment at least. Not if I am to appeal to the sense and sensibilities of the thinking crowd. That’s the obligation the mandate of “change” imposes upon ALL of us who seek the aqua vitae of legitimacy - for instance – Why do you think we have elections? Why do we even impute innocence upon even an accused man? Tell me isn’t that inconvenient? How pragmatic is it? Why do you think we hire judges to preside over murder cases and not out source it to robots?
Here we need to be mindful of “due process” and what it entails when it is coupled with the whole idea of change management.
Why do you think not a single country in the Western hemisphere has ever proposed or even suggested “community regulation” in the manner which they have proposed?
I want us all to understand this from the onset; what they (the 15 bloggers) are suggesting has no historical, moral or even operational precedence, not even one molecule of it. Firstly, it’s an insult to one’s intelligence to assume the so called “higher principles” of these 15 people have a better pedigree to what is currently offered by our govt in the form of text, tradition, precedent, and reason derived from black letter law. Secondly, it’s down right demeaning on what it means to be a thinking human being to assume in the absence of such “higher principles” they would be able to deliver a higher quality of good… and let me share with you why?
This has nothing to do with pragmatism, effectiveness or even what is the gold standard by which we should go about resolving the issue of racist and hate speech. One cannot put the cart before the horse and claim that trust would and could be earned from the public through trial and error, not if from it’s inception, the entire premise of the “idea” is not even firmly premised on a solid justifactory foundation that legitimizes the formation of such a committee.
You cannot build on sand. This I assure you, no one will listen to you! Not the thinking people, at least.
That I believe is one reason, why, the framers of the American constitution did not simply say, “the best means must always be allowed to justify the pursuit of the end at every turn and opportunity” or “…one may engage in any practice whose benefits outweigh it’s cost,” as the members of the G-15 and their cronies would have it, but instead, they, the founding fathers of the America wrestled, vexxed and struggled to articulate a limited number of fundamental principles and enshrine them above the every day pragmatic judgment of pragmatist.
As netizens, we need to ask ourselves why did they take the high road instead of opting for the short cut? As netizens, we need to take an interest that if the imperative is to carve a better tommorrow, then we can never hope to build on the empire of the bones – we have to humble ourselves to the “due process” which history lays out before us. If we hope to make a better world here, we cannot do it by repeating the mistakes of the world that we hope to change, not even under the greater name of the noble “good” or the “practical.” That’s simply untenable. We have got it all wrong from the word, “go!”
I believe there is a very important lesson here that all of us may do well to pause and ponder over. They (the founding fathers) foresaw what modern history has shown to be all too true – that while solutions to solve the ills of our society may from time to time present themselves in every age under the guise of pragmatism to offer the promise of an antidote to hatred, racism and even fashioning a better world, it can also facilitate a particular form of tyranny – the same type of tyranny that justifies the means which runs counter to the tenets of mankind. By this I mean there are certain fundamental tenets of humanity such as the principle of natural justice which should never be allowed to take precedence over the pragmatic calculations of the day, not even if they hols out the allure of a silver bullet to solve the ills in our time. These constitutional principles serve to protect all, not only minorities, but also those who may be targets of such over zealousness to rid our world of evil.
The internet should be left alone!
If govt’s want to mess around with it – I say go ahead, be my guest. If you fuck up, it will be on your head and the record will be clear for all to see!
If govt’s want to resort to the sledge hammer black law, then I say go ahead, be my guest – go show the whole wide world, the only tool you’ve mastered in the tool box is the hammer – but don’t be surprise if on record, you’re labelled as only someone who only sees the world as all nails and nothing more!
But as netizens, we should have the wisdom to say, we want no art or part in this,
“the internet should be left alone!”
In my humble opinion, there is no better way of rejecting the whole idea of heavy handedness, no plainer declaration of independence, than to simply say,
“the internet should be left alone.”
As netizens, we would do our cause justice by enshrining this as a fundamental tenet in our heads, instead of attempting to dabble with something which we don’t really claim to understand fully - to do otherwise would be to display our arrogance and even highlight our shallowness.
I wonder my friends - is this why? – the founding fathers saw fit to even enshrine certain fundamental rights, such as the freedom of speech away from the grubby hands of the legislature, judiciary and executive?
Why I wonder would they go through all the trouble of doing that? What were they trying to articulate?
This is something; you need to consider my friends.
If you really want to get a handle to this whole debate….You do not need to be super intelligent….You don’t even need 10 bullet points….all you just need to do is ask one question that is rightfully yours…..and that entails, ‘by what authority do they have to even ’condemn’ - ’advise’ - or to ‘counsel?’ Tell me, who gave them that sort of authority? From where did they even derive that sort of legitimacy?…..You know what? Before we can even move intelligently to the next stage. This question first needs to be answered. As it is……their proposal cannot be even considered on a serious basis, not by the thinking people at least. They will just laugh at them….. I want this to stand for the record….many years from now when children ask why our net looks more like Pyongyang instead of Paris, New York or Hong Kong….at least, I can say; ‘I told those monkeys not to fuck around with something as mysterious as the internet .’ I wonder my friends, what could you possibly say?”
This is an EV excerpt from the Interview Series with Sharon (PBK) – This segment of the interview series has been reconstituted (with full spelling and grammatical mistakes) courtesy of the Free Internet Library Board – The Brotherhood Press 2008
To Read Further on Why The Internet Should Be Left Alone.
Part A : The Nonsense Packaged as the “Truth.” http://singaporedaily.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/daily-sg-23-apr-2008/#comment-1836
Part B : Is the Net really “Evil?’
Part C / Chapter 1 : “We should be bee keepers instead of zoo keepers.” Darkness 2008
Part C / Chapter 2 ‘ When the Community Good is No Bloody Good!’
Part C / Chapter 3 “Bloggers Eating Bloggers”
Part D / Chapter 4 “When You Love Something…” – Why We Need To Leave The Net Alone
[This compilation has been reconstituted by the Free Internet Library Board [FILB] 2008]
June 21, 2008
TRANSALPS TRAINING ANNOUNCEMENT – IMPORTANT!
Please be informed on Saturday 21, June 2008, at 2 p.m. We will be conducting our first stage pre-selection of the team who will hopefully qualify for the Transalps Challenge
This training session is compulsory no exceptions will be made. Those of you who have injuries will report to the mechanics or medics to assist them. There will always be room to accommodate one more person. Our meet point will be the “Big Tree” along East Coast Rd. Please be punctual and don’t loiter and talk loudly as I have received a lot of complaints from the resident committee that some of you have been a public nuisance. Please do not invite your girl friends, family members etc. This is not a recreational ride, this is a pre qualifier. Please do not bring along unnecessary barang e.g binoculars, playstation etc. Do conduct a thorough check of your bicycle, gear and check your heart for any defects the night before.Anyone requiring the tool box? It’s underneath Astro boys bed, so please feel free to call at his house. If he is not home, his mother knows where it is. The torque wrench has gone missing again! I hope the last person who loaned it will return it back as we cannot be spending money indiscriminately. Mechanics, I expect you all to conduct a full checklist on toolsets / prepare for a long and hard ride. Medics to prepare for medipack, it will be hot. Marshalls will be Team A, Nacramanga – JDAM – Pumpman.
I have received very disturbing reports from the safety officer some of you have been cycling and listening to music – I do not want to see this. Lets make it happen.
Why Deregulation Has Nothing To Do With Deregulation?
Part A : The Nonsense Packaged as the “Truth.” http://singaporedaily.wordpress.com/2008/04/23/daily-sg-23-apr-2008/#comment-1836
Part B : Is the Net really “Evil?’
Part C / Chapter 1 : “We should be bee keepers instead of zoo keepers.” Darkness 2008
Part C / Chapter 2 ‘ When the Community Good is No Bloody Good!’
Part C / Chapter 3 “Bloggers Eating Bloggers”
Part D / Chapter 4 “When You Love Something…” – Why We Need To Leave The Net Alone
[This compilation has been reconstituted by the Free Internet Library Board [FILB] 2008]
“The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open” – Gunter Grass
Are Singaporeans satisfied with the state of Internet regulation as existing?
If not, what changes do we wish to see and how can a bottom-up desire for reform translate into policy review?
Can Singapore afford the political and social costs of free speech? Is there a contradiction between wanting freedom for political speech and controls over social speech? Is technology really in the driver’s seat? Are governments powerless in the face of a global Internet?
Mr Arun Mahizhnan, Deputy Director, Institute of Policy Studies
Presentations by members of the Bloggers’ Group for Internet Deregulation
Chaired by Asst Prof Cherian George, Wee Kim Wee School, NTU
Date: Sat, 21 June 2008
Time: 2.00pm to 5.00pm
Venue: URA Centre, Maxwell Road, Function Hall, Level 5
Admission: Free, RSVP required
Media: Open to reporting
To register (RSVP), please send an empty email to :
You will get an email response asking you to confirm your request.
Late notices, if any, will come from the Googlegroup.
“The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open. Agreed. But we have already asked the questions…..and till todate there is NOT even so much as a whimper of a reply….very strange when you really think about it….when you consider, this is a proposal that relates directly to the on going’s in the internet and to netizens.
Yet for some strange and inexplicable reason every attempt is made to ensure the discussion is taken out of the internet so that it may be probed, discussed and even debated by those who have the least qualification to contribute to it’s well being…why?…since when was real gold so afraid of fire?….Excuse me as I may not be as brainy as some of you rocket scientist who may be reading this…but where is the Lan Chaiu discussion here? Can some please tell me?….anyone?….Tolong lah!….as a netizen you really need to consider what these urination experts are really trying to accomplish? Incidentally 9 out of 10 netizens have read this: http://singaporedaily.wordpress.com/2008/04/27/sgdaily-roundup-what%e2%80%99s-hot-in-week-17/#comment-1901 and http://singaporedaily.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/daily-sg-29-apr-2008/#comment-1919 These are the questions. These are the Fact. They will not go away. On record, the citizens have spoken, true to the spirit of Mr Gunter: on record, no attempt has been made to even address them in the internet.
You have to ask yourself why?
My view is simply this. This is an old fashion power grab that is mounted by ONLY a handful of people who have no real stake holding the internet. The net belongs to producers like you and me, not to a bunch of people who have an output of 2 articles per month. Do you know what? I really don’t believe it is even worth engaging them seriously. It’s best, if we all Ignore every single post. Ignore every single statement and Ignore every conclusive decision they may derive at. As a netizen. I and you have a right to say in clear and unequivocal terms; “I HAVE A RIGHT TO IGNORE YOU. DO NOT RECOGNIZE YOUR AUTHORITY OVER ME! I NEVER ONCE GAVE YOU THE MANDATE BY ELECTION OR BY DEFAULT! YOU HAVE NO DOMINION OVER ME!”.
Their action speaks a thousand words my friends. My Bahasa is not very good, but even the Malaysians are calling this the GREAT ‘tak bagi lah’ movement – you really have to ask yourself as netizens whether they are so wrong to do so.”
Make certain this is broadcasted to four corners of the Strangelands – prepare for war!
This article was orginally published on 18 May 2008 at 12:40 am
EAM [EMERGENCY ACTION MESSAGE] THERE WILL BE A DRILL TODAY ON ‘ULTRA SILENT’ MODE / IT WILL COMMENCE ON SG TIME (EARTH) @ 0900 HR – THE CHRONICLER
I am sure all of you have read Miss Chua Lee Hoong’s lament concerning the Mas Selamat debacle online?
And who could possibly forget, le piece de resistance: Ong Sor Fern’s paramour,
“I HAVE never, nor will I ever, read blogs.”
You know what I resent most about these articles don’t you?
Apart from the condescending tone, the message to readers is blunt: “you will learn one way or another – our way – or hit the highway!” To add insult to injury, the newspapers pledge nothing in return.
Of course, I understand the impulse behind all this nervous energy only too well – newspapers are hemorrhaging revenue – they haven’t been able to prosper since the net made its debut etc. They’ve lost too much of their monopoly on the cultural authority they once commanded. No one I know, these days even aspires to be a journalist any longer. And judging from how even those who remain in the industry these days aspire to land comfy teaching job; it all makes a forgettable case for a poor excuse as a career choice.
But what really lies at the heart of the compact between news producers and consumers?
What if I said, all this is just an attempt to strip away the whole idea of the independent reader and squeeze his understanding into the factory-farming model of gobbling facts on the state assembly line? Too radical right? Yeah, but even you have to admit that’s a racy read.
Back to the cold cuts; if any thing, these manifestations reveal a characteristic failing of our newspapers: to assume if something is going wrong, like we’re not reading, then it has to be either the fault of the consumer or an supervening event like the net, not the news provider. Usually in the toss up, the evil net gets fingered; and just in case we might even forget it’s truly a land of the morally bankrupt. A steady stream of anti-net propaganda is regularly doled out, just so we never forget.
Tell me. If a restaurant found that its customers rarely ordered chicken, would it revise their chicken-menu, or ditch them?
Precisely, you get my point don’t you?
But when droves of readers abandon our beloved rag, they resort to compulsion, fear mongering and just plain hypnosis, rather than asking if there is something really wrong with the service they have been providing?
For instance; why is the Beijing Bureau so fat? Who the hell cares whether two hump back camels can’t find a decent bush to knob each other in the Gobi desert because of desertification?
Hey, you know what? No one gives two shits, what’s really happening in China!
Very strange indeed; if you consider the imperative is to captivate, yet none of the economics even suggest this is being seriously put to good and productive use.
But to accomplish this feat of customer satisfaction, our newspapers don’t need freedom as Cherian frequently likes to trout; rather all they need to buy into is the old fashioned idea of paying heed to customer service. Wat most of us really need to ask is this. Are we really getting value for money?
You know what? I don’t think so.
But the ongoing problems which frequently mire the relationship between its readers and news producers are only a symptom of two deeper trends that have been unfurling since the advent of the internet. The first is the growing disconnect between what consumers want and what is regularly been churned out. These days when one reads the ST, what’s not mentioned or written about is real news and what’s fleshed out is simply stuff most of us aren’t really interested in. I can’t speak for the vast majority of readers, but for me, as much as I want to continue reading the ST these days. I really see no compelling reason why I should even my time trying to wade out the shit from the nuggets – after a while, it just doesn’t make any sense to do so.
As a result most of my news these days comes from a patch work of foreign press usually in bits and pieces montages on the run on my Nokia Communicator; this I do quite well only because I have personal history of having once regularly read the New York Times, Independent and Guardian simultaneously; but again. My point is its hardly linear reading as much as it remains Jack rabbit hop here and there reading.
This worries me only because kids can’t do what I do these days. The only reason I acquired this skill was because during my university days; I genuinely enjoyed reading my derelict free copy of the Times, which I usually picked up in the tube. People who say littering is a crime should get their heads examined, it’s nothing short of a public service and beats navigating around KFC carcasses any day. My point this evening is simply this, without a solid foundation of what is really good news; its conceivable it’s impossible these days for youths to even develop the foundational skill sets to consistently winnow the truth from lies.
In the absence of captivating press that can be entrusted reliably to be the purveyor of the truth – against the endless choices presented by the internet, there will always be an incredible sense of release to go wild online and to confect their own version of a bent reality. But – more worryingly – these youths would never have once even learned how to structure thoughts. They haven’t taught themselves how to use a mix of newspapers, libraries and arguments to spot out, distinguish and even to differentiate what’s real from false. They will flail about and even lose their bearings – I fear.
The solution doesn’t lie in inuring the internet with a higher level of truth; my feel is all the G-15 bloggers need to seriously get their head examined; no one in their right mind proposes a plan to plough the sea; anymore than he could possibly hope blogosphere should mirror the news producing agencies of the real world; the internet will always be the domain of the amateur, diarist and at best an imitation of reportage. Rather the solution lies in investing in critical thinking skills in our schools and institutions of tertiary educations – youths these days desperately need to taught the skills sets of how to winnow the truth from lies.
Against the back drop of this reality, it’s not our press who should be making greater demands on their readers. It’s readers who should be making greater demands on their news producers – to provide a service they can really believe in and if possible even captivate them. Rather than a staid service they want to shun away from.
Incidentally, today is the first day; I hung out a post it on my door to the newspaper uncle; it read. “No more newspapers from today please. Tolong!”
Let’s see how it goes. I’ve keep you all updated, but don’t hold your breath.
The only cold turkey, I know is the one that’s set on prema freeze somewhere in my freezer.
[Compiled by Harphoon - The Brotherhood Press 2008]