21 February 2008

Bloggers threatened and slandered by Azalina – yet again

According to an AFP report emanating from Kuala Lumpur, the Youth and Sports Minister, Azalina Othman, has accused bloggers in Malaysia, who have been writing avidly on upcoming elections, of being cowards. She also warned them that they are being monitored by the government.

She said opposition parties are using blogs to get their message out because they believed the Home Affairs Ministry is too busy monitoring reports in the mainstream media. “They think they can get away with it, but it is not the case as they too are being monitored,” she reportedly warned.

She also said that bloggers were cowards and a nuisance to the ruling party.

As a senior Umno leader that have been detailed to “take care” of the bloggers since a year ago, Azalina’s disgust with the bloggers is understandable – especially since all the terroristic but uncreative methods and tactics employed by her (and Khairy Jamaluddin’s) army of “cybertroopers” have so far been in vain – and the nuisance to the ruling party continues!

It is hardly surprising to me to note that Azalina and her colleagues in Umno are politically naïve and ideologically ignorant. But for them not to understand the meaning of an everyday word like “coward” must be a source of great shock for the world.

AFP, the international news agency, also mentioned in the report that opposition parties in Malaysia have resorted to blogs, SMS messaging and YouTube in their campaign for the coming general and state elections on March 8 “to dodge a virtual blackout on mainstream media”.

Major newspapers and television stations – many partly or wholly owned by parties in the ruling coalition – have given blanket coverage to the government and its achievements since the election was called.

The opposition parties rate barely a mention, but thanks to the Internet they have begun campaigning feverishly in cyberspace with the aim of reaching young, urban, educated voters.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranks Malaysia 124 out of 169 on its worldwide press freedom index, and says the main media are “often compelled to ignore or to play down the many events organized by the opposition”.

The government has previously threatened that bloggers could be punished under draconian internal security laws which provide for detention without trial.

Now, isn’t it clear for the whole world to see who really is the coward here: the bloggers who are constantly being harassed and threatened with draconian impunities or the desperate state apparatchiks like Azalina who constantly issuing the threats?

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