Friday, October 08, 2004

and you think our censorship is bad

look what popped up in the STOnline today:

Malaysian blog draws flak from govt officials

KUALA LUMPUR -- Internet freedom in Malaysia has come under scrutiny after government officials lashed out at the publisher of a webjournal that carried a reader's comments that were allegedly insulting to Islam.

Opposition leaders and media rights activists scrambled to defend Jeff Ooi, who runs a web diary - or blog - on politics and issues of public interest, after a deputy minister warned that he risked being jailed under national security laws if he encouraged provocative Internet discussions.

Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based group, said late on Wednesday it 'condemned a bid to intimidate' the journalist, stressing the government's threats against him would 'force those running weblogs to use excessive censorship.'

The controversy began in this mostly Muslim nation, where religious sensitivities run high, after one of Mr Ooi's blog readers posted a comment on Sept 30 that compared the practice of progressive Islam by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's government to excrement.

Mr Ooi, an ethnic Chinese Buddhist in his 40s who works as a business analyst, quickly barred the reader, who identified himself as 'Anwar,' from posting further messages, saying his comments 'twisted and hijacked' the blog discussions.

'I do not condone offensive postings,' Mr Ooi told The Associated Press.

His blog is one of Malaysia's most widely read, attracting about 4,000 visitors per day. Readership doubled this week after widespread publicity in the mainstream media, which operate under strict licensing and sedition laws that critics say has led to self-censorship.

Some politicians have expressed concerns that Mr Ooi's blog - which in recent weeks has discussed suspicions of corruption in Malaysia's ruling party and public discontent over an increase in petrol prices - could inspire inflammatory debate.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar has warned that authorities could take action against Mr Ooi under the Internal Security Act, which provides for the imprisonment without trial of people deemed to have undermined national security.

'In the case of www.jeffooi.com, I am warning its operator to cease any discussions on sensitive issues related to religion,' Mr Noh was quoted as saying by the Berita Minggu newspaper. 'If not, actions using the ISA could be applied.'

'This issue is not about freedom of speech,' Khairy Jamaluddin, the Malaysian premier's son-in-law and close adviser, told the New Straits Times newspaper.

'It is about common decency.' -- AP
be prepared for some fairly pissed-off remarks from our neighbours across the Causeway sometime soon, i think. first news about how our new PM is all chummy with their new PM, and now a remark on our national paper about M'sians threatening to use the ISA on some poor hapless blogger who appears to have attracted a reader with more temper than sense. well, shucks. i wonder if that's meant as some kind of warning to our own bloggers? hmm? -grin-

in other news, i have absolutely no idea how to prove that Smith's invisible hand really does work the way that all us U0fC trained economists (and economists in general) intuitively know to be true. here's the question: Show that the actions of producers who seek to maximise their own profit lead to the maximisation of a country's GDP (which is an illustration of Smith's "invisible hand"). help! and the problem set is due at five, and i am sleeeeeppppyyyy...

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