TQ YAB PM Datuk Seri Najib and YAB TDM for understanding us, the bloggers

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak promised Malaysians today that his administration would never censor the Internet. Speaking at the 1st Malaysian-ASEAN Regional Bloggers Conference here this morning, the Prime Minister declared that Malaysia has one of the most liveliest and one of the freest, “if not most free”, blogospheres in the world.

The government does not fear bloggers but wants to be part of them and know their views even if it is constructive criticism, says Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. “I believe this relationship will be an important relationship based on mutual respect. We might not agree all the time but we cannot be disagreeable.

“Malaysians have to thank Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for this.

“When he was the Prime Minister, and Malaysia was developing our Multimedia Super Corridor, Tun made the promise to the world that Malaysia would never censor the Internet.

“My government is fully committed to that wisdom — we intend to keep his word,” he said in his opening address during the conference at the Intercontinental Hotel here.

 

“What is important for us is to put forward your (bloggers) views, even your constructive critism and together we can build a better Malaysia and future for us,” he said in his keynote address at the First Malaysia-Asean Regional Bloggers’ Conference in Kuala Lumpur today.
Also present were the patron of Blog House Malaysia Dr Mahathir Mohamad (below) and his wife Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, president of Blog House Malaysia Syed Akbar Ali and Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor.

Najib said the era of government knowing everything was over and the government needed to know from bloggers who represented the Malaysian community, their views and criticism.

“But we should draw the line; if we use the cyberspace to tell lies and half truths, that is wrong. I agree with Tun Dr Mahathir that there must be a line that we cannot trespass.”

He said if bloggers worked within those parameters, he believed they could indeed play a vital part in shaping a better future for Malaysia and Asean.

Najib said the governments of today were being challenged not just with the use of guerillas and mercenaries armed to the teeth with deadly weapons, but also by the deployment of cybertroopers who waged viral warfare with the might of their keyboards, keypads and smartphones, as the Iran “Twitter” and Egypt “Facebook” Revolution manifested.

“We are also one of the most ardent Facebook fans – there are 10.1 million FB users. I have no doubt whatsoever that Malaysia has one of the liveliest blogospheres in the world and definitely one of the freest if not the most free.

“Malaysians have to thank Tun Dr Mahathir again for this. When he was prime minister and Malaysia was developing its Multimedia Super Corridor, Tun made the promise to the world that Malaysia would never censor the Internet. My government is fully committed to that wisdom; we intend to keep his word,” he said.

Najib believes that the Internet is an engine for economic growth, the portal that opens up to a knowledge society.

“This is applicable to all societies, even a government that is not too keen about the democracy part of ‘digital democracy’ should embrace the digital part, as the economic implications are simply too great to ignore.

“The social media, blogging and microblogging are capable of bringing nations closer as for the first time in the history of mankind, people are able to communicate with each other in real time and without having to wait for days or even weeks for the mail,” he said.

The two-day conference, starting yesterday with the theme of “Blogging Mindfully and Responsibly” is organised by Blog House Malaysia, an association that provides a platform to derive defensive mechanisms to protect the plethora of bloggers in blogosphere, especially on Malaysia and Malaysia-centric postings.

The objective of this conference is to bring together regional bloggers from the Asean region and to highlight the obstacles faced by these bloggers as wellas the adversity that bloggers might experience in their day-to-day tackling of various issues.

There had been two attempts to put a Chinese-style “Green Dam” to filter the Internet in Malaysia in the past while a number of Malaysians protested last week over the free 1 Malaysia email service which they felt was unnecessary.

Speaking at the 1st Malaysian-ASEAN Regional Bloggers Conference here this morning, the Prime Minister declared that Malaysia has one of the most liveliest and one of the freest, “if not most free”, blogospheres in the world.

“Malaysians have to thank Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for this.

“When he was the Prime Minister, and Malaysia was developing our Multimedia Super Corridor, Tun made the promise to the world that Malaysia would never censor the Internet.

“My government is fully committed to that wisdom — we intend to keep his word,” he said in his opening address during the conference at the Intercontinental Hotel here.

While stressing that it is important for bloggers and Internet users to “draw the line”, Najib said his administration still welcomed constructive criticism and wanted to work with them as partners.

“We do not fear bloggers. We want to be your partners,” he said.

He said the administration may not always agree with the views expressed by bloggers but it was imperative that both parties were not disagreeable all the time.

“There is difference between disagreeing and being disagreeable.

“But what is important is for us to put forth our view to help build a better Malaysia,” he said.

Najib noted that the social media apparatus has been used by many nations to galvanise the masses to march against the establishment, but stressed that his government recognised that practising an open digital democracy is the way forward for Malaysia.

He said that many Western governments, which often promote freedom of expression and information, were now “forced” to review their positions.

“Some of their politicians are even calling a gag on the internet, or at least some form of government controls and regulations, in the name of national security,” he said.

But Najib said the Malaysian government would stand by its pledge to keep the Internet free from censorship.

Malaysia, he said, has over a million registered mobile phone users today, about 10.1 million Facebook users and before the 2004 general election, had over 500,000 blogs in existence.

“I’m not sure why other governments do it, especially if it is true that these told of the Internet can be a pain in the neck.

“But on behalf of my own government, I can say for certain that it is because we know that this is the way forward.

“We practise open democracy, and as digital democracy is concerned, it is inevitable, that it would be silly — perhaps even futile — for governments to resist or ignore,” he said.

Najib reiterated that the power of the Internet in Malaysia was shown during the Sarawak state election last Saturday when Barisan Nasional cruised to a victory but also lost in a significant number of constituencies.

He said the online media or digital democracy had made it more difficult to win in the election.

“That is the fact of the matter,” he said.

But despite this, Najib noted that Malaysia would continue to spend and invvest to promote open democracy and digital democracy in the country.

“Malaysia is spending RM11 billion just on high-speed broadband. We have a scheme to provide free laptops to a million people, including school children, in the interior.

“The private secctor spends billions every year on infrastructure and research and development, and to get that smartphone or latest Tab or Playbook to the market,” he said.

Earlier, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told the conference that blogging should be encouraged as it helped the people to become more involved in the running of their own country.

Mahathir, an avid blogger himself, reiterated that he had turned to blogging as his avenue to air his views after he stepped down as prime minister as he had found that the pro-government mainstream media were no longer interested in publishing his statements.

“The mainstream media would support you as long as you are in power and this should not be the way.

“Blogging has a role to play today…. not because there is censorship but because sometime people are too willing to be sycophantic or supportive of the authorities without even being told to be.

“Once in a while, the people should criticise the government… of course, I am saying this now that I am not in government,” he said, laughing.

Dr Mahathir added that it was “frustrating” when a person’s voice could not be heard.

“But bloggers should treat the government and the people fairly though their blogs… make comments to contribute to the betterment of society.
“Bloggers should be treated fairly and justly and if they cross the line, then they should be ready to face the consequences,” he said.

 Mainstream media in the country should allow themselves to be critical of the government now and then, said former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

 

He said that many were unwilling to criticise the government as they felt that they should support it all the way.

Dr Mahathir (right) said the mainstream media also practised self-censorship, and this had given the wrong impression that they were being censored by the government.

“So, the government sometimes gets lopsided views about what the public is thinking. They (media) think that they should self-censor.

“And, of course, this gives the impression that it’s the government who’s restricting them,” he said at the inaugural Malaysia-Asean

Bloggers Forum opened by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak here today.

Dr Mahathir, who is also patron of Blog House Malaysia which organised the event, said constructive criticism should be given when it was for the betterment of the country.

He said while bloggers should give fair treatment to the government and the people through their blogsites, they themselves should be treated fairly and justly.

About 35 bloggers from the region are taking part in the forum which carries the theme “Blogging Mindfully and Responsibly”.

Source:MInsider:
  1. Najib repeats promise of no Internet censorship By Clara Chooi
  2. MKini:’Mainstream media should criticise gov’t at times’

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2 Responses to “TQ YAB PM Datuk Seri Najib and YAB TDM for understanding us, the bloggers”

  1. drkokogyi Says:

    BE MORE INCLUSIVE AND BRING ON BLOGGERS FROM “THE OTHER SIDE”
    NAJIB URGES BLOG HOUSE MALAYSIA. From Rocky Bru’s blog @ http://www.rockybru.com.my/2011/04/what-happened-to-anti-establishment.html

    Just before lunch, a Singaporean ex-journalist who now lectures for a living, and who was invited as a speaker at the 1st Malaysia-Asean Regional Bloggers Conference which ended today, asked what the PM would do to reduce “polarization” in the Malaysian blogosphere.
    The Prof observed that the “usual suspects” were missing from this inaugural regional conference. The “usual suspects” is a term he used in apparent reference to bloggers harped as anti-Establishment.
    Najib said he, too, would like to see more inclusiveness and less polarization in the Malaysian blogosphere.
    “Perhaps this is something the Blog House of Malaysia would want to take up …”, he said, throwing a challenge to the Blog House Malaysia to rope in bloggers “from the other side” of the political divide.

    The PM is, of course, being consistent with his “inclusive” approach in almost everything he undertakes.

  2. drkokogyi Says:

    Continued from BRU’s blog:
    The (draft) KL Consensus
    1. The establishment of an Asean social media and blogging network to promote understanding, good relations, unity and cooperation for regional betterment and progress of the new media practitioners in the spirit of mutual respect;
    2. To assist in achieving and promoting the common values and aspirations of goodwill and to promote greater understanding and familiarity of the social media;
    3. To promote the freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom from persecution;
    4. To promote ethical practice of the social media; and
    5. To meet regularly and promote the growth and progress of social media in Asean
    In short, we were not concerned at all about what their ideologies and we were not trying to make anyone interested in ours. There is more to blogging than politics and I believe that today we have pushed blogging to the next level.

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