Blogging – the greatest national threat?

sorry, this is another CnP job again. in fact i would say CnP WC. whazzat? CnP without comments! (for the uninitiated who still don’t know what’s CnP, it’s ‘cut and paste’).

yesterday i gave you a CnP article from our monthly catholic magazine. today i will give you a CnP article from our weekly catholic paper, the herald. it comes under the youth column and it is about blogging and nathaniel tan’s arrest. (there’s a nice picture of nat too in the herald). today our living room light was not working, and with the computer in the living room, it was not good for my eyes to stare at the computer screen which glared at me brightly under the dark, thus i have to made a quick post (this CnP) and call it a night.


The Herald
29 July 2007

Blogging – the greatest national threat?

The way the government and law enforcement bodies are taking blogging, you would be forgiven to think that blogging truly is the nation’s biggest threat to security. After the ‘successful’ attempt to downplay corruption, apparently, the government has decided to shift its focus to another monster threatening national harmony: BLOGGING.

 The question here, however, is pretty simple. IS blogging truly as harmful to the nation as the government says it to be? And if it truly is, WHO are the true culprits?

 Before we delve into the whole primary issue, let’s understand a little about blogging. What exactly is it all about? What is it that compels nearly half a billion people around the world to blog?

A blog is often a mixture of what is happening in a person’s life and what is happening on the Web, a kind of hybrid diary/guide site, although there are as many unique types of blogs as there are people.

People maintained blogs long before the term was coined, but the trend gained momentum with the introduction of automated published systems, most notably Blogger at Thousands of people use services such as Blogger to simplify and accelerate the publishing process.

Although blogging is something universally known and is an act that has been going on for some time, for some reason, the government has recently categorised the personal views of the many unregistered bloggers as a threat to national security.

Of the lot of them, there was one that truly caught my eye.

At approximately 4.30pm on July 13, registered blogger Nathaniel Tan, pic, was arrested, (note I say arrested and not remanded) against his will by about four to five policemen. The reason for his incarceration proved to be a comment posted on his blog by an anonymous contributer who, in his comment, decided to slander a renowned datuk.

Instead of investigating the matter thoroughly, the officials proceeded to interrogate Nathaniel, denying him legal counsel and holding him incommunicado and basic human rights while under their captivity. He was arrested under the Official Secret Act.

All the while, the policemen were trying to coerce Nat into admitting to committing a crime of which he had no connection to.

You see, Nathaniel worked as the Secretary for the Chairman of Foundation for the Future which is an NGO focusing on grant making in support of democracy and reform. It would, however, be prudent to add here that the chairman of the board is none other than renowned victim of the ‘Black Eye’ in police hands, Anwar Ibrahim.

Nathaniel also happens to be a Harvard Graduate in Special Concentration: Peace and Conflict Studies and is an aide to Tian Chua, the Information Chief of Parti Keadilan Rakyat. It is also interesting to note that Nat, in all his success and numerous achievements, is only 27 years old.

He has also been actively involved in humanitarian and volunteer efforts in Acheh, Indonesia and Sierra Leone as well as with human rights groups in Malaysia.

Needless to say, Nat may have been a little politically partial to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). Nevertheless, nothing as such would justify him being treated as he was treated by the police.

Upon Nat’s arrest, police seized Nat’s Personal Computer from his house together with some CDs and they asked him to bring along his notebook computer. After this, upon reaching Bukit Aman (if the words of the policemen were anything to go by) there was some six hours where Nat was virtually undetectable by the outside world. According to Nat, the officials did everything within their power to suppress his legal and human rights wherever they could.

According to Elizabeth Wong, a human rights advocate, Nat was not allowed legal counsel, even before he was to be produced in court. He was also, reportedly, not fed a single grain of rice.

 It rather raises doubt as to why the police REALLY arrested Nat, does it not? While many would be apt to believe that the slandering of a high and important Malaysian figure to be the case, many are prone to believe otherwise.
One anonymous employee of Nat’s communication firm, JCB Networks, says that Nat was taken in because, ‘this FEAR, UNCERTAINTY and DOUBT is exactly what the government wants to spread…’, ‘They want to send a message to the people who want to and can make a difference in our society — BACK OFF…,’ The Barisan National regime thrives on suppressing the dissemination of information…’.

While all this sounds rather harsh and somewhat biased based on personal feelings, I believe one thing should be taken into consideration, that information is the right of every man and no one, in all authority has the right to suppress it.

While not opposing the ruling government in any way, it is the belief of all in human rights that no one should have been treated the way Nat was treated, in spite of the charges brought against him.

At the end of the day, quoting that same employee, ‘what we are working for is a better Malaysia, a changed Malaysia…,’ ‘Assert your rights as a citizen. Do more than just talk; take action in some way…’

This, I reassert, is NOT a ploy to get readers or anyone for that matter to rebel against the ruling government outright, it is just a stand of a young man wanting to make a difference for the future Malaysia his future children will grow up in. Nathaniel Tan has already taken his stand and he was treated as such but, at the heart of it all, freedom of speech and true democracy is the basic human right of every individual. Fight for your god-given right, even if it is through a simple blog.

— By Marcus Peter

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