The all-inclusive hug

January 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Last night while staying glued to Twitter for developments in Egypt, a tweet came in from a Malaysian with the words “The Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 will be amended” and my heart almost stopped for a moment. Buoyed, no doubt, by the idealistic energy that comes from watching a revolution onscreen while seated in a sturdy-backed chair in the comfort of my study, I thought for a moment that the Malaysian government was considering “amending” the PPPA in terms of limiting its scope, and scaling back. However, I’m clearly delusional – because if Najib Razak has shown us one thing, he has shown us that he is the rightful heir to Mahathir-style authoritarian conservatism. I cannot imagine any form of fundamental, systemic difference in this country if the same ruling coalition continues to rule for the continuing decades like has for the decades past.

The Malaysian Insider has a short article, as well as The Sun. Some choice words:

He said among other things, the Home Ministry was looking at the definition of “publication” and whether it should include Internet content.

Mahmood said the ministry was working with the the Attorney-General’s Chambers in going through the proposed amendments which were expected to be ready for tabling in Parliament in March.

“For example, what does the publication process mean? Is it inclusive of Internet content or what is said on Facebook?” he said at a press conference after presenting appointment letters to members and associate members of the Film Censorship Board and Film Appeal Board today.

“We have to expand the act so that it does not only cover print media. Nowadays the landscape is totally different. We are talking about publication, but what about what is in digital form?”

Mahmood said the amendments were not meant to tighten control over the press but to address loopholes in the law and make it more inclusive.

I marvel at the ability of the Home Ministry to think about things – the definition of “publication”? Wow, that’s pretty heavy stuff. “What does the publication process mean?” Amazing. All this in service of keeping the Malaysian public further suppressed, oppressed, and repressed. I mean, it’s a truism that all governments are stupid yet when there’s a will, there’s a way, and if it means keeping you in line they’re going to THINK VERY HARD ABOUT THIS.

And, I like this particular phrase: “to address loopholes in the law and make it more inclusive” – it sounds like a grand old party. “Inclusive” is always a good word, no? It brings to mind multiculturalism and happy parties and we-are-the-world-type sisterhood and brotherhood. You can feel the long, skeleton arm of the Printing Presses and Publications Act reach out and bring you in close for a rib-crushing “inclusive” hug, whether you want to or not.

Do head on over to Uppercaise for more in-depth coverage:

Unable to effectively counter the barrage of exposés, leaks, commentaries and analyses being published on the Internet, the Government is now falling back on repression through legal muscle, in a throwback to conditions existing in the late 1980s, when the Mahathir Mohamed government tightened press controls and introduced annual press licensing.

Najib, as we’ve all suspected, is just another Mahathir, but that pink-tinged baby face that makes you forget this very, very easily.

Update: After the Home Ministry secretary-general spilled the beans said some stuff, there was obviously an emergency meeting held along the lines of, “Fuck, we’re a democracy… oops, maintain the façade!” and therefore our Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz – I’m not sure what he does, really – came forward to say, “Hey, we’re not going to restrict stuff online, but perhaps we will, it’s up to us really, because we may have tabled Bills in the past, but we can revoke  the Bills, especially if you’ve been bad, so we won’t censor you, but we actually can and will when we want to.” Or, something along those lines. Then, along came the Home Minister himself – the esteemed cousin of our Prime Minister – Hishamuddin Hussein, to tell us, “Hey, you can’t judge what we haven’t yet done because my ministry’s secretary-general lacks PR skills! I mean, you can’t judge how we restrict your freedom of speech until we actually restrict it! You know?” Or, something along those lines. In the meantime, PKR responds to this proposed PPPA amendment with a WTF? Furthermore, in this piece our National Union of Journalists says firm, principled things, and Edmund Bon points out how a future caveman age is upon us if we go down this route. And Steven Gan says, “You mofos aren’t taking us back beyond our-already shitty past.”

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