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davidlian is an ultra-geeky chinese dude that works for a technology PR agency. He loves fiddling with techno-toys, plays Warhammer 40K, and shoots pictures wherever he goes. Here, he rants about PR, Technology and anything else. Don't expect balance and un-biased, he ain't no journalist. Anything said on this blog are solely davidlian's personal views. Don't confuse them with company mantra, client's views or views of any organisation he may be part of.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Slowly slipping to communism totalitarianism

I'm reading with concern the The Malaysian Insider's report on plans for a "Malaysian Green Dam". Apparently, there are plans to implement an internet filter in Malaysia. Tender documents seen by The Malaysian Insider say tenders are:

  • to evaluate the readiness and feasibility for the implementation of Internet filter at Internet gateway level, through assessments on the existing infrastructure and existing products in the market.
  • to evaluate and estimate costs for the implementation.
  • to study the existing legal framework in addressing content filtering and no censorship issue, including the impacts that are caused by the implementation to Internet users and the Malaysian economy.
Sounds like gibberish? Here's the Cliff's Notes version: The Malaysian government is planning how it can best censor the internet.

As @derekw points out, this is in direct contradiction with the MSC's Bill of Guarantees which promise "no internet censorship."

Now, the discussion can easily devolve into politics and speculation on what the government is actually trying to block. But even before that, the fundamental questions is: "should censorship come from our government?"

Sure, the excuse could be to "block undesirable elements" from our society. But the government should govern, not play the parent. The key difference being parents are given the uni-lateral right to decide what's right for their children while the government decides according to the people's will.

And I hardly see any people's will decrying the "harmful elements" of the internet. And if there are, isn't it the responsibility of the parents to block it? Isn't it your responsibility to surf only to the clean sites? Isn't it your responsibility to sift thru the lies and get the truth?

If the government dictates what we can or cannot see, are we slowly slipping to communism totalitarianism? Are the communists totalitarians winning after all, after all these years?

*Note: Edits made to this post after useful and sound feedback from StefStefStef and Jia-Yi. See the comments for more info. Thanks guys.

7 comments:

Sheryll S said...

Hi David, I think this is not going to pass... It's too idiotic for any government to even consider. Is this wishful thinking on my part?

StefStefStef said...

First of all, dictating what you can and cannot see is exactly what they have been doing for years on television and movies. This is hardly unheard of. My main point, however, is that the lack of freedom of information does not mean we are turning 'communist'. Somehow communism has become the favourite term for all things terrible and its simply false. You are distorting the meaning behind the ideology and using the same dirty rallying cry the government has used for decades to pass liberty depriving laws. Try totalitarianism, far more accurate to your point.

StefStefStef said...

This country is built on censorship and its not just the government that is at fault. Malaysians censor themselves out of fear of being reprimanded. Racial issues are whispered. Political issues are not recommended topics of conversation (although that could be attributed to plain ignorance of current or historical events). Don't you see, the government does not need to act as a censor. In this country, fear and ignorance do a much better job.

davidlian said...

@Sheryll: It isn't. It won't pass.
@Stef: Thanks for your comment, very thoughtful indeed.

Just to clarify, I was referring to the Stalinist communist regime which was totalitarian and where government dictated to the people. The same ideology of communism that we fought as Malaysians all those years back. Hence the reference: "after all these years".

Agree with you this isn't the utopian vision of communism that Marx had.

And you have valid points about fear et al, but the issue at hand really is about the internet and censorship by the government thereof. And yes, that's another step towards communism.

Jia-yi said...

Stalinism is totalitarianism, not communism, David Lian. :) StefStefStef rightly called you out on it and I've read your response, but it still makes no sense to call government monitoring and censorship "communist". Repressive, totalitarian regimes of all stripes (Nazis in Germany, Franco in Spain, Mussolini in Italy - all right wing and not communist) engage in the kind of behaviour described by Orwell in 1984.

So no, censorship does not bring us one step closer to communism. That's a wild and illogical claim to make. Singapore censors the 'net, does that make the regime communist or even communistic?

davidlian said...

@Stef & @Jia-yi: I take your points. I've had to go back and read up on Communism, and yes, Stalin mis-used the term 'Communism' - a mistake I've repeated here.

I'm going to edit the post to better reflect your points. Thanks guys!

I'm learning. And this is precisely why the comment box is left open.

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