Archive for November, 2009

Malaysiakini is now 10

Congratulations to Malaysiakini and its determined editorial team on their 10th anniversary today.

You’ve certainly come a long way.


We don’t need no (BTN) education

Biro Tata Negara (BTN), that government outfit set up under the Prime Minister’s Department, has become the talk of town the last one week or so as accounts from several people who had undergone its courses suggest that it funtions primarily as a brainwashing mechanism to promote ruling BN and racism, and at the same time to foster hatred towards the opposition.

If these accusations are true, then the stated objectives of the BTN to promote patriotism, nation-building and inter-ethnic understanding among the various ethnic groups in Malaysia have been called into question.

Addtionally, the supposed goings-on in the BTN don’t gel with the so-called 1Malaysia concept of the Prime Minister.

This is why concerned Malaysians such as DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang have even gone to the extent of calling for the closing down of the BTN.

A public inquiry into this controversy surrounding the BTN should be considered by the authorities concerned — despite the assurance of the Deputy Prime Minister and others that the BTN is not what the critics made it out to be.

Idul Adha

Wishing readers and friends of the Islamic faith:

(Illustration: al-Habib)

Where local broadband is ‘nuisance’ and costly

Malaysia’s costly and slow broadband has become a prickly problem for foreign investors — as well as Malaysian Internet users who feel they’ve been short-changed.

And this cyber problem prevails despite the much touted Multimedia Super Corridor.

An extract from The Malaysian Insider:

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — Consumers in Malaysia pay some of the highest prices for broadband in the region, one major reason being the monopoly which state-owned Telekom Malaysia (TM) holds on submarine cable landing rights, a senior executive at a multinational company has asserted.

There is no shortage of gateway service providers seeking landing rights because of the pent-up demand for quality bandwidth, but the government must deregulate or liberalise gateways in order to improve competitiveness by providing larger broadband at lower costs, said Ryaz Patel, Intel Electronics country manager for Malaysia and Brunei.

Patel’s comments that the lacklustre quality and high cost of broadband is hurting the country’s knowledge aspirations come on the heels of warnings by Australian businesses that slow Internet speeds were putting them off investing in Malaysia.

Malaysia Australia Business Council vice-chairman Michael Halpin said large technical documents from Australia had difficulty getting sent over because of the poor quality broadband.

“Australian and American investors see this as a nuisance and an impediment to them to do business successfully here,” he said.

In a press briefing on Intel’s roadmap for 2010, Patel observed Malaysian consumers pay significantly more for broadband, but even to buy broadband wholesale as a service provider was ‘“frighteningly expensive” compared to its neighbours.

Read the rest here.

Bangladesh works towards media autonomy

Mindful of the importance of media autonomy in a democracy, a certain stakeholder in Bangladesh had taken steps to push for the independence of the country’s government-run television and radio stations.

Bangladesh’s human rights organisation Adhikar had filed a petition with the country’s High Court, which in turn had ordered the government to report on the progress towards the autonomy of public broadcasting.

This episode in Bangladesh’s broadcasting should impress upon the Malaysian government that public radio and television stations are not to be run in a way that merely serves the narrow interests of the ruling party.

Public broadcasting, if we need reminding, should serve the socio-cultural, political and economic needs of all stakeholders in society, irrespective of their political affiliations, creed, social status, class and gender. And to do so, the broadcasting stations have to be autonomous.

See here for story.

Breaking up is hard to do


(Photo credit: The Malaysian Insider)

The saga continues. MCA party leaders who were kicked out of its presidential council made a passionate plea to delegates to attend the Nov. 28 EGM to call for fresh party elections.

For full story, see here and here.

Tamil Nesan and censorship

It is common knowledge that, or at least in theory, the role of a newspaper is to inform its readers of events of social import that occur and vital issues raised in society.
And so like most dailies, vernacular Tamil Nesan duly reported the killing of five suspected armed robbers by the police last week.
And yet, the Tamil-language daily has been accused by the Home Ministry of fanning ethnic sentiments because of its report about the death of the five suspects. Subsequently, the Ministry issued a warning to the daily that it would revoke its publishing permit if it continued to report such issues.
It is expected of the Tamil daily to report the case given that its constituency or readership is mainly ethnic Indian, and not to do so is serious editorial neglect and social irresponsibility.
The fact that all the dead suspects are ethnic Indian makes its more compelling for the newspaper to report as it concerns the larger Indian community, what with the spate of custodial deaths that had occurred in recent times.
Besides, it is no surprise that such an incident attracts the attention of a daily owned by, or associated with, ethnic Indian-based Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a component party of the ruling BN coalition that — like its coalition partners that are ethnic-based — champions the narrow cause of its own ethnic community it supposedly represents.
While there is virtue in the vernacular newspapers like Tamil Nesan serving the social and cultural interests of their respective ethnic readership, the downside is that their connection with the rest of multiethnic and multicultural Malaysia can be rather weak.
There certainly is a case for a kind of reportage that has a fair degree of inclusivity so that issues and events concerning other ethnic and cultural communities do appear in these dailies. 
Even the Malay-language newspapers — almost all of which are owned by, or friendly with, certain component parties of the BN — primarily address the interests and concerns of the ethnic Malay community despite them using the national language. In this context, the use of the Malay (and national) language doesn’t necessarily promote inter-ethnic and cultural understanding.
Coming back to the issue of the Tamil Nesan. The warning given to the daily is tantamount to the proverbial killing of the messenger, which is outrageous.
Clearly such a ministerial action not only violates freedom of the press to report but, equally disturbing, it also has the effect of not addressing, or downplaying, important issues such as the recent killings.