I haven’t blogged much the past couple of months. It’s partly because of a busy schedule and partly because of a severe case of writer’s block. A holiday to my old stomping grounds in Malaysia and Pulau Langkawi where I once attended sekolah menengah (Malaysian high school) has inspired new interest in writing about the country.
Malaysia has a parliament and elections, but it is nowehere near being a working democracy. This week they have once again proven this with the censorship of MP and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar now faces possible suspension from parliament over a comment made during one of its sessions. He claimed that the nationalist campaign 1Malaysia, intended to boost national unity, is somehow related to Ehud Barak’s 1999 political campaign One Israel. The relation is the PR firm APCO that allegedly has been working for the government coalition Barisan Nasional. (more…)
No freedom of speech in France? June 6, 2009Posted by Sverre in : World politics , 1 comment so far
I can’t yet find any English sources on this, but Norwegian newspaper Aftenpostenand the Swedish Aftonbladet report of events in France that don’t belong in any democratic country. A French blogger was reportedly arrested and charged with “public insults” after having called the French Minister of Families, Nadine Sorano a liar. “Hou la menteuse” – “O, what a liar” are said to be the exact words of 49-year-old blogger Dominique Broueilh. The newspapers claim that Sorano has also called for tighter surveillance of bloggers in general by Frenchs ISPs.
If this is true, it is nothing short of an outrage. No democracy is possible if public figures are to be protected by such strict laws. Merely being impolite can’t be a reason to clamp down on free speach. I didn’t believe a democratic Western European country like France could employ such policies…
Malaysia censors news portal August 29, 2008Posted by Sverre in : Malaysia , 1 comment so far
A number of sources can report that the Malaysian government has ordered a ban on the popular independent news portal Malaysia Today, and Malaysian ISPs have reportedly complied. According to the website owner himself, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the reason is his article “Malays, the enemy of Islam“, an attack on conservative Malay Islamism and corruption and abuse by the Malaysian Sharia court system.
The article in question is in my opinion neither well written nor particularly constructive in its criticism. Nevertheless it is a matter of course for me to defend the writer’s right to make the claims he does. Freedom of speech is natural to us in the west, not so in Malaysia. Malaysia has never had a completely free press. The government has always reserved itself a right to protect the people against statements that threaten racial harmony or public morale. And the Malaysian government has a long history of abusing this legislation to crack down on political opposition.
Malaysia claims to be a democracy, but this isn’t the behavior of a democratic state. It is further proof to the autocratic nature of the Malaysian regime. (more…)