Sunday, January 04, 2009


A friend of mine, on his Facebook account posted an article and made a comment, which sparked a long discussion from readers about the Freedom of the Press.
To briefly summarize, some people, a few famous faces, were arrested in a hotel in Kuala Lumpur after the room was raided by police. There were allegedly drugs involved, and they labeled it as some sort of sex party...Whatever.
So, the discussion of what the press should and should not have reported started.
Then it turned to how much freedom the press should have. You know the usual, "The press killed Princess Diana" etc, etc...
Well, since this is a topic near and dear to me and since it often strikes a nerve with me, especially in Malaysia, my adopted home country, I commented too.
But there's a limited amount of space for comments on Facebook, and I got SO riled up I wanted to continue my rampage here.
So, to begin by quoting what I wrote there...

Freedom of the press?!?! In THIS country? You've GOT to be kidding me! Look, I love this country, I'm not from here, but have NO desire to go back to my home country. I've been living and working (legally) here for almost 8 years now. I'd take a PR here in a second, if they weren't so impossible to obtain.
Believe it or not, Malaysians actually have more freedoms than those egotistical "Americans" like to shout about. BUT... having said that, there is ONE area in which the M'sian government has, and continues to maintain an iron fist control. The press. TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, books, film and to some extent, the net.
That's the ONE place I still very much disagree with Malaysian laws and philosophies.

Without a free press, you can not truly have freedom. Absolute freedom of the press. The right to say, print, broadcast or film whatever you feel. While you can not shout "FIRE" in a crowed theater, for obvious reasons, but you should be able to express your personal feelings without being afraid of arrest, or being locked away under an antiquated and miss-used ISA.
Look, in case you didn't know, in America, you could publish an Islamic paper
(or insert your favorite faith or anti-government group here) calling for the complete overthrow of the government and criticize all you want.
Here, it seems that even the hint of anything anti-government, even on an internet blog, can get you a date with the ISA boys! (Internal Security Act). If you're outside of Malaysia, Google: "Malaysia ISA", you'll see.

Will we ever have that freedom in Malaysia? I doubt it.
Look people, the government, in spite of what some think, isn't stupid. They are VERY well aware that if you can control the press, you control the people.
When a country invades another (and the USA is more than famous for this dirty trick!) what's the very FIRST thing they do? Take over, or shut down, the radio and television stations. Why do you suppose they do this?
Simple... Repeating: If you control the press, you control the people!
Just in the past few weeks we here in Malaysia have been in the middle of a fight over whether or not a Catholic newspaper can publish in Bahasa Malaysia (the official language of Malaysia).
WHAT?!?! Can a newspaper publish itself in the official language of the country?!?!
The Malaysian government says it can NOT! Wanna know, (in my opinion), why?
Since this paper is Catholic, I believe they are afraid the teachings of Christians will somehow "pollute" the minds of Muslims, if they can read about it. Especially in rural areas, where English isn't as widely spoken or understood. (Note for people outside Malaysia, if you didn't know: Islam is the official religion of Malaysia)
What does this mean? The government doesn’t think you’re smart enough to make an adult decision for yourself? Or perhaps they think your faith isn’t strong enough, that simply what someone writes or says will make you leave the faith?
That's another topic for another day, if I REALLY want to piss people off and put myself in danger of an ISA raid! (haha!)

OK, back to my point about freedom and rights...
Most importantly of ALL is... with that freedom comes RESPONSIBILITY! Just as with "rights", you don't just get rights, you have the responsibility to use those rights. Most people shout about their rights, but forget that they are responsible for what they say, do, and write about, and the consequences of those actions.
Americans are famous these days for dumping their responsibilities. It's one of the most annoying problems WITH the USA. In the past few decades, with the court systems being so screwed up, NO ONE has to take responsibility for their actions anymore.
And, of course, it doesn't hurt that there's a lawyer on every street corner just waiting to take up your case.
A lady sues McDonalds because she spilled coffee on her lap and it burned her? She sued because the coffee was HOT?!?! WHAT?! Idiot! But worst of all is the judge who allowed this case to go to court. The judge SHOULD have just laughed and told this stupid woman and her attorney to stop tying up the court system with stupid lawsuits. Honestly, I don't blame irresponsible people, or cold-hearted, shark-like lawyers, as much as I blame judges. They have the power to throw these ridiculous cases out. But they do not. They let them continue. This ability to sue just about anyone, over just about anything, is screwing up nearly everything. From tying up the court system to even raising prices! Do you KNOW how much insurance business' pay for just this problem?
We Americans have over legislated ourselves to death!
You slipped on the ice in front of my store? Well, too bad. next time be more careful! It's ICE moron, it's SLIPPERY! Duh!
But no, I'll sue your business and probably win, and own your ass for he rest of your life!
Look, I grew up in a time when if you slipped on the ice, you laughed about it... Eventually. Even if you hurt yourself, you realized that YOU were the stupid one who wasn't careful enough, and fell. But forget that now. We don't have to be responsible for anything we do.
Remember "The Twinkie Defense"? Look it up.

This all brings me back to my original point. (See? It was there somewhere!)
Be responsible!
Freedoms and rights, yes, but only with the responsibility to enjoy them.
Freedom of the press? Yes, complete freedom. Freedom to print whatever you want, even if it's anti-government or anti-religion. The public should be, or needs to be educated enough to read ANYTHING and make a sound decision as to what's good and what's crap. If your beliefs are strong enough, what you read won't change your mind. If your faith is strong enough, what you see, hear or read, won't make you question your faith.
You'd be surprised to know just how many silly Americans actually believe what they read in newspaper rags like the National Enquirer or The Weekly World News.
"Aliens ate my ears off!" Come on people! Get real! Geeeez!
If people or the government agrees with it or not....Print what you like, say what you like, broadcast what your like, film what you like. but damnit, be responsible for it.

I am now getting down from my soapbox. Wow, what the hell did I write?
See what happens when you get me started and touch a nerve?!
I'll go back to writing about bird-watching or OB the cat or something now!

Just a thought...


Blogger kumbangtanduk said...

jay, you nailed it. i love it when people argue with themselves. only intelligent people can see both sides of the coin. The problem in Malaysia is not about lack of freedom, but lack of responsibility when it comes to having that freedom. i hate to tell you this but "long live ISA!!"

2:29 AM  

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