"I am here because of women". Tourism Minister Tengku Adnan and I sat side by side this afternoon at a press conference after the National Press Club-Celcom VMY Treasure Hunt 2007. He was asked about the "blogging" controversy. I was not taking notes so please refer to Malaysiakini and the media for exact quotes. But it was clear the Minister was denying the Sin Chew report last week that he had described all bloggers as liars. He said he had meant only the Indonesian blogger, Nila Tanzil, not bloggers in general and not women bloggers. He said something to the effect that he loves and respects women, that he relies on women for support in his electorate, and he wouldn't have been in this world if not for a woman (his mother).
A reporter then asked me what I thought about the controversy and I said I would respond as a blogger after the press conference is over.
Engage the bloggers!
At the press conference after the press conference, I was asked several questions, mainly by Malaysiakini and the NST:
Q: How could you sit side by side with the minister, shook his hands, and then took his money when you have condemned the Minister in your blog for remarks that riled the women bloggers?
A: i/ I was there as President of the NPC and it was NPC which is taking money from the minister on behalf of its members, i.e. journalists like them and me; and
ii/ I believed bloggers should sit down with people who seem to be opposed to them and try to make them understand blogging and bloggers. Much of the fear against blogging, I added, was due to the fact that people did not understand why there were people who blogged; and
iii/ If I were representing the National Bloggers Club, it would have been a different story ...
Q: Is there going to be such a club for bloggers?
A: We are working on it. I need to speak to more bloggers. We might be able to make an announcement in April.
Q: Are you happy with the Minister's response?
A: I can see that the Minister was trying to appease the bloggers. But I don't think all the bloggers are going to be happy (with the response) .... people like Marina (Mahathir), Nuraina (Samad), Susan (Loone) and Elizabeth (Wong). They aren't going to be happy with how the Minister deals with the complaints made by Nila Tanzil.
Q: What do you think the Minister should do?
Engage the bloggers. The Minister knows who they are. Get in touch with them and engage them. There's a lot bloggers do and can do but the authorities must take the initiative to understand them.
Q: But why did it take nearly one week for the minister to clarify his remarks?
A: Why didn't the papers chase after him earlier? Why did you only ask him now? (The reporter said the Tengku had been asked on the issue yesterday or the day before but had declined to comment).
Click here and here for my earlier postings.