Monday, January 25, 2016

Najib Malaysia whose country is it anyway?

Does money have morality? Can ‘bad’ money – money that has been obtained by questionable means – be put to good use, so as to benefit the community as a whole? Can a ‘good’ harvest be reaped from seeds that are ‘bad’? In other words, can the end justify the means?However, pragmatists would point out that much that is desirable has its genesis in the undesirable. For example, the so-called ‘robber barons’ of 19th century America who made fortunes out of ruthless exploitation have left behind a rich legacy of cultural and educational institutions that are the envy of the world.
It seems money is neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’, neither white nor black. Just another shade of Grey.

The same-old scams and swindles. The same-old parliamentary logjams. The same-old crimes against women. The same-old droughts, floods, pollution. The same-old price hikes of just about everything you care to name. The same-old on-again, off-again dialogue  The same-old, same-old foreign junkets of our PM, our Peripatetic Minister.
The thrill is gone, lamented the late blues guitar master B B King. Of course, when playing the blues he couldn’t really begin a song by exuding the joy of life. But those opening words of that King composition kept playing in  mind while spending the past few weeks in Malaysia The thrill indeed is gone, even if the popular mood isn’t quite bleak yet.. A bit short of two years later, however, not much has changed.Malaysia remains where it was.On secular tolerance, on freedom of speech, on institutional functioning and on other liberal democratic markers, Malaysia’s image has been damaged. What many feared would be a capitulation of the Najib government to tendencies and demands of the far right in fact happened in several instances that featured prominently in the international media to sour global public opinion. On top of that came a slew of news  that a number of media organisations have received warnings from the Prime Minister’s Office in recent weeks not to play up issues that could cast a negative light on the government, such as the 1MDB scandal.

Indeed, so old has the news become through repetition that there is a growing demand by compilers of dictionaries that the word ‘news’ should be changed to ‘olds’, and that newspapers and TV news channels should be renamed oldspapers and olds channels.
Ever since Najib was implicated in the RM2.6 billion ‘donation’ scandal last year, he has mounted a series of attacks – using both restrictive laws and the state machinery – against the Fourth Estate.
Asia Sentinel is the latest casualty in Najib’s war against pestering websites. On Thursday, the Hong Kong-based current affairs news site was blocked by Putrajaya after it reproduced an article by Sarawak Report, where the latter claimed to be in possession of evidence against Najib in relation to the SRC International case.
Last November, the offices of Malaysiakini and The Star were raided by police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) over their reports on the transfer of a top government official involved in the SRC investigation.
Earlier this week, UMNO Mminister Abdul Rahman Dahlan filed a defamation suit againstMalaysiakini over a vox populi article on his “reverse migration” remark.This is the second lawsuit against the country’s top news portal from a key member of the government. In 2014, Najib sued Malaysiakini for publishing readers’ comments which criticised him for alleged money politics.
Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar has vowed that there would be more Internet policing on social media, as Malaysians “have shown to be less than mature” when posting their views.
The Communications and Multimedia Act will also be amended when Parliament resumes its sitting in March to block sites from defaming the national leadership, warned Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak.
Centre for Independent Journalism co-director Jac Kee has expressed serious concern over the troubling drift in the media industry.“If the purported news is true, then it signals a worrying trend where alternative news sources are becoming more scarce and under threat – not just from increasingly heavy-handed content regulatory laws, but also the tough economics of running online content sites.
“Unless we have a policy and legal environment that values and protects press freedom and diversity as fundamental pillars of a functioning democracy, then our media will always be at risk of such gaming tactics to consolidate power,” she said when contacted.
It has also been reported that KiniBiz – a joint-venture between business editor P Gunasegaram and Malaysiakini – is to end both its print and online run. An announcement will be made on February 1.

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