Monday, June 25, 2007

Re-thinking (again) Malaysia

Media and Civil Society. When EU envoy Thierry Rommel criticized the NEP the other day, most of the major dailies and tv stations failed to report it. Was it self-censorship, did they all miss it, or were they told to ignore Rommel? But when the Deputy Prime Minister reacted to Rommel by telling him not to interfere in Malaysia's domestic policies, they all went to town with it. Was it because it's politically correct or were they told to front-page Najib?
How does such editorial conduct affect Civil Society?

This may be one of the hot issues that will be discussed at the Siri Pemikiran Kritis on "Re-thinking Malaysia" this Wednesday, 27th June 2007, at 8pm. It's being organised by the Bar Council and the Youth for Change, and the venue is the Bar Council auditorium in Leboh Pasar Besar, KL.

Two of the panelists are from All-Blogs: Ms Elizabeth Wong, who is also member of Suaram, and Jeff Ooi the Screenshots blogger. They'll sandwich the third panelist Paul Low, the secretary general of Transparency International Malaysia.


  1. Anonymous10:06 am

    if it was this coming Wed, should the date be 27th June?...maybe just a typo error there...

  2. thx anon, correction done.

  3. Its EU envoy not US!

  4. ok! ok! it's EU envoy, sorry again! must have been the bic mag i had!

  5. Anonymous3:27 pm

    did you mean 'big mac'. ( sorry....)

  6. Bar Council/Y4C’s continuing “Rethinking Malaysia” forum series hit a sour note last night when one of the panel speakers advised youth to seek “greener pasture” if the situation in Malaysia becomes untenable.

    The advice was given by Datuk Paul Low, Secretary General of Transparency International Malaysia, when he cautioned the Malaysian Government against unjust policies in this age of globalization where people have high mobility.

    Last night’s forum titled “Media and Civil Society” saw a turnout of about 60 people most of whom were below the ages of 20.

    The first panel speaker Jeff Ooi, a prominent blogger in www. lamented the fact Malaysia media was controlled tightly by the ruling parties. As such the newspapers devoted all their effort one-sidely on pro-government news. The rest of it was the sentionalisation of rape, murder and robbery.

    On a civil society, his wish-list would contain one where Malaysia would get rid of what he called “Merdeka 1234”—1 for Malay, 2 for Chinese, 3 for Indian and 4 for Others.

    “Let us one day be colour blind in this regard,” he said.

    The second speaker, Elizabeth Wong of Suaram and also a blogger under, pointed out that the “other news” which could balance the citizens’ exposure were unfortunately in the blogs. But the majority of Malaysians do not have access to that.

    She gave the example of her experience during the Ijok bye-election. There was no broadband and she had to use the slow connection.

    “When the bill came, it was more than a thousand ringgit for just the 7-day of usage!” she exclaimed.

    Datuk Paul Low of Transparency International wanted all news touching on sensitive issues be banned from being published. He gave the example of “burning of a temple” and having the media asking and getting all the provocative answers.

    “If these were to be published then we may have a riot. There will be a curfew and you and I will not be able to go about our business,” he said.

    But the question is, in the Malaysian context where many of the actions are media-driven (Ask Michael Chong, he is an expert in this) would not silence create more frustrations and non-action.

    A member of the audience put forth a query that given the unique Malaysian situation, would the “Rethinking Malaysia” called for a new social contract as the current one was creating a lot of frictions among the various races.

    Paul Low replied a new social contract was unnecessary in this age of globalization as young people can easily seek “greener pasture” elsewhere.

    When pointed out that he should not be giving such advice to the young impressionable minds but instead should tell them to stay to make this place better, Paul Low drew the example of the European Union where there was great mobility of people and labour.

    If Asean thus become like EU then the movement would not be out of frustration. But it would definitely not happen in the next 50 years, and leaving Malaysia for “greener pasture” is a defeatist solution. The “Rethinking Malaysia” calls for a reflection on the past and a peek into what the future holds in the next 50 years. Those wanting a easy way out by leaving should not be participating in such a forum in the first place.

    Those young people present when the altercation with Paul Low was taking place, instead of listening and then speak up their mind, bowed their heads in silence. Is this a good or bad omen for the future of Malaysia?.

  7. Anonymous9:56 pm

    Check out the formal report on the SPK II - Session 3 here:

  8. The formal report sounded like the usual government press statement. As Jeff and Elizabeth said at he forum, unless anon is deaf, only the bloggers could provide the other views and the balance.

    For a forum with such high sounding title "Thinking Malaysia" (again as Rocky insinuated) one would have expected that it would be a thought provoking session.

    Yet the altercation over "greener pastures" wasn't reported in the formal version. The young people present didn't stand up to make known their views was also left out.

    Again when the question was asked if the Rethinking Malaysia would involve a new social contract, the moderator for the night, Amin Idris,instead of asking the 3 panelists for their views, told them to just state their wish-lists!
    This is for the record as I would like to take on him whenever opportunity calls to explore his substance when he could quote "the prolific Turkish author and theologian, Adnan Oktar saying, “Yes, there is freedom of expression, but after that, there is no freedom after expression.”

    I wish anon would identify him/herself so that I could tailor my reply accordingly. From my expereince I would think he/she is one of them.

  9. Further to my comments, there was no "cry for freedom of expression, national unity and Bangsa Malaysia reverberated n the Bar Council Auditorium" as proclaimed in the formal version. Only the 3 panel speaker uttering with most of the audience of under 20s bowed their heads in silence. What a miserable propaganda. I was there and from how the forum was conducted I don't think I would ever attend another of the so-called "Rethinking Malaysia. It was a real farce.

  10. Anonymous10:30 am

    Mr Simon Wee,
    With all due respect to a senior citizen like you, I must say that you were not a shining example of how a fine discourse should take place. I was there and I cringed every time you spoke up. Did you have a bit too much before that, I wondered to myself. You were blabbering and you were not making much sense. I decided that you are one of those people who, as the song goes, are best and they don't say anything at all.

    As for the greener pasture remarks by Low, what is so wrong about that? You have made your point so why not agree to disagree. The topic of the forum itself is "re-thinking" Malaysia. Migrating is "re-thinking". Staying put and trying to make a difference is "re-thinking". We young ones at the forum are hungry for change and for new, bold ideas. How many people would be bold enough to tell us to get the hell out of here if we are not happy.

    On that note, I must congratulate you however for your boldness to declare that you won't attend another of the Bar Council's forums after that evening. Yes, Mr Wee, you are doing what Paul Low was telling disgruntled Malaysians to do - get out if you don't feel good or needed.

    Do you see his point now? Somehow, I doubt it. I still believe you might have had too much before coming to the forum. About time the Bar Council conducts breathalyser test next time.

    Good day. I thank God we won't be listening to you next week!

  11. Dear Wee-d off, as in piss-ed,

    Thank you for your feed-back. The point of contention here, as you rightly pointed out, is leave or stay.
    It is surprising for a man from Malaysian Transparancy to advocate leaving to the young impressionable minds as the way out. Then what will happen to the rest of those,who invariably are their friends and relatives left behind. That is exactly what the majority wants the rest of us to do and they would welcome Paul's contention, like what you are doing.

    My argument is that we must all stay and contribute to make this place a better place for all. Lets start by having a new social contract as the existing one is becoming obsolete. As I have said in my other blogs, the starting point would have to be acknowledgement of malay political dominance and the institutions to allay Malay phobia. Otherwise we can talk like in the "Rethinking Malaysia" series until the cows come home.

    Instead of listening to the altercation and then stood up to speak their minds, all the young people present, including "Wee-d off, as in piss-ed" bowed their heads in silence.

    You yourself need not cringed as there were only 2 questions from me, but instead should stand up and said your piece as in your comment above and not hide under "Wee-d off, as in piss-ed" and then open your "big mouth". If I were blabbering, then how come Paul could put up credible answers like refering to EU and greener pasture.

    If I were to make a guess I would say that you are from the Bar Council. By hiding under "Wee-d off, as in piss-ed", and using expletives and insinuating that I was drunk, is not setting a good example to the young people either.

    To say the least, the formal text is but a bias version. Where was the reveberation and where was the altercation. Accusing the government of bias newspaper reports? now you are doing it yourself like pot calling the kettle black. Is it a good omen or bad for the future of Malaysia.

  12. Further to my earlier comments, what I have said at the forum are were out there in my blog"
    Am I making sense or "Wee-d off, as in piss-ed" is himself blabbering.

  13. And just a little education for "Wee-d off, as in piss-ed".
    A lawyer once told me that Chinese don't make good litigation lawyers because their body language is shown on the face, discerning even from the bench.

    A flush face of a Chinese does not necessary mean infuenced by alcohol. In my case it is a sign of good health and that my grey matter is functioning. I am always ready to be proven wrong.

  14. wee-d off, as in piss-ed off,

    I don't want to be the last on this as it is not healthy for democracy.

    If I am last in this, then I may be attempted to attend the next Rethinking, walk up to you to shake your hand and ask if you are "wee-d off, as in piss-ed off".

    Of course you can indulge in your namecalling as such senior citizen, drunkard, blabbler etc. And don't forget the breathnalyser machine.
    According to shrinks, resorting to namecalling is a sympton of idea-depletion. Anyone will know that in any discussion, anyone worth his salt would try to bring the other person down with ideas and not by namecalling. Maybe the shrink's prognosis is correct in this regard.

    According to "wee-d off, as in piss-ed off" "leaving" is also part of the "rethinking". He appears to me to be in the Young Lawyers' Committee. Maybe he could convince the committee to issue a statement to the effect. It may also want to include namecalling as part of the Rethinking. Then we can have a "fine discussion" to find out who is talking sense and who is blabbling.

  15. Dear wee-d off, as in piss-ed off, or is it Mr H.R.Dipendra of Young Lawyers Committee (I stand to be corrected),
    I am waiting...

  16. Dear Rocky,

    I would appreciate if you could publish this, which I hope will correct Simon Wee’s misconception.

    Many thanks

    Dear Simon Wee,

    My attention was drawn to your loquacious comments on this blog by a few readers who are also members of my committee. You have readily assumed (and without good reason I add) that I posted comments about your sobriety at the lecture under the pseudonym "Wee-d off, as in piss-ed". I now wish to assure you that I am made of a stronger constitution and possess the necessary scrotal gumption to, at the very least, identify myself in full as I have now. Thus, in the event of any doubt that you may still have, it was not me. I hope this clarifies the issue.

    I also wish to add that you are entitled to your own views on the way the National Young Lawyers Committee of the Bar Council (NYLC) and Youth4Change conducted themselves in relation to the 3rd Lecture of the on-going “Critical Thinking Series”. Your comments are noted and are taken into account.

    Obviously, we cannot please everyone and the report that you have commented on is prepared to be as objective as possible taking into account the views of the majority. When the NYLC and Youth4Change created the “Critical Thinking Series”, it was designed to promote and air different views. We did not set out on a quest to vilify anyone for their views. The fact that you were able to say so much last week without any hindrance is proof of this fact.

    Should you have suggestions and constructive criticisms on improving the “Critical Thinking Series”, please e-mail me at

    Many thanks

  17. Now that I have been corrected (as I have said I stand to be corrected), will “wee d off as in pissed off” have the same constitution and “scrotal gumption” to stand up for identification instead of hiding under a cloak spewing expletive, insults and ridicule. Other namecalling bloggers will call such a blogger a coward. The Shrink's prognosis, on the other hand, is idea-depletion.

    My “loquacious” comments (sarcasm noted) was the result of the name calling such as senior citizen, drunkard, babbler and ridicule hurled at me by “wee d off as in pissed off”. He even jested about putting a breathalyser by the door and exclaimed “thank God we won't be listening to you next week!”

    I am not quarreling with HR’s committee over not speaking enough at the forum. But my retorts which you described as “loquacious” with obvious bias, were over “wee d off as in pissed off”’s sweeping ridicule of my participation at the forum. Even the pseudonym used , “wee d off as in pissed off” speaks volume of his illwill. What I have done in this regard is the minimum in the face of such insult.

    Since HR is modest enough to seek contribution to improve the forum, may I ask what is his stand if “wee d off as in pissed of” happens to be a member of his committee.

    As for me, like I have said, if there is no further feedback from “wee d off as in pissed off” ,then I am tempted to attend the next Rethinking forum to make him cringe even more so as to draw him out in the open.