You don’t know Jack, Murugesu, Siti Aisyah or Bunyau
JULY 19 — I’ll start by agreeing.
The prime minister is spot on. New media is increasing the spotlight on crime.
However, new media is not increasing instances of crime. Reporting them does not mean crimes have been invented by eager people at computer terminals. Crimes have occurred — and continue to occur — independent of media’s approval, participation, promotion or investment.
Crime resonates with Malaysians because multiple sources of information worry them, second-person recounting encircle them and they broadly opine that the police force is indifferent.
The “feeling” is built over time and has not transpired overnight.
So how has new media changed the game?
It’s certainly a huge step up from gossiping housewives over picket-fences, kids in school buses and harried lunch-time crowds chattering.
The conversations, how people talk, has not changed — they are just carrying them on Facebook and tweeting. They are scaling up and networking conversations.
Unsurprisingly, the government of the day contends these prevalent online conversations are step-downs for our society.
Social media’s nature, allowing all to speak, relay and choose, is seen as dangerous.
But mind you, no matter what is done to curtail the Internet, the sense of despondency grows in our national consciousness.
My former boss relocated to Singapore after he had his bags lifted off him in 2007 at the cashier line during peak hour inside the KLCC mall. Theft is one thing, but confronting lacklustre security staff at the store and mall, no action and finally finding himself in a tourist police vehicle transported to the tourist police station because he was a Briton infuriated him beyond belief.
Too many people living off our tax money are not doing enough, or, worse, don’t care.
BN’s Social Media 101
Reverting back to new media, it would be instructive to aggregate where the Barisan Nasional (BN) government actually stands on Facebook, for instance. Perhaps I’m being overly harsh with them.
For example, Prime Minister Najib Razak is always keen to interact. Those “Like” buttons on his “Fan Page” when clicked put a cheer on his face; apparently they have ended up putting more than a million cheers on his cherubic face.
So he likes them, these netizens. He takes them out to tea occasionally, and gives them “kuih lapis” (a traditional cake) and photographs to cherish.
Elsewhere in the kingdom, the BN Youth volunteer corps — who never lack funding or more appropriately never need to raise funds — want more and more people to join their online activities and events.
And when the general election arrives, there will be unprecedented volume of ad buys and Net presence, stating that BN is about openness and celebrating the commoner on the street.
Online to BN is only good when it trumpets their successes.
They are going to use social media as much as they can squeeze out of it, and then when the election is won, they are going to sit down without the “fear of losing” hanging over them and then devise ways to end social media’s influence.
Obviously they’d fail, but are you keen for that period when they try? You do have Facebook, Twitter, a blog and email. It won’t be Robespierre, but it won’t be pretty.
Truth is hereditary
The debate about social media in Malaysia is actually a dissection of what is truth.
Last year, the government paraded academician after academician who pronounced that Malaysia was never colonised, just to prove British constables of Malay ethnicity never raised the Union Jack at their Johor police station.
Then they ditched the idea and the academics because they started to look intellectually bereft.
These academics are in hiding waiting for another anointed time to reveal nuggets about our past. They are a bit like the A-Team, the series not the movie.
While it lasted, it did seem like the anatomy of a relationship, as in characterising the stages of courtship.
“She’s with him.”
“Well she is with him, kinda, but there is every chance they are very good friends only.”
“There was a time she was with him, and within that time there was a phase when he was with her and someone else, but seriously they were really, really together, some time between 1942 and 1945 when the Japanese influenced Malayan life with great execution.”
The anti-cupid Dr Mahathir Mohamad stepped in and said we should stop talking about it, but left it open-ended enough that his prodigies can dredge it out in the future when it is convenient.
This year, there are unrestrained celebrations already under way to highlight the wonderful independence Umno has “brought.”
The only issue is who gets to monopolise truth.
All else are subplots and footnotes.
Najib and gang silently despise social media’s rise ripping away from them control of truth.
But their politics, their politicking, is shredding the base of the country, its people’s minds.
They are insisting there is only one way to look at things, one manner to appraise actions and one group to listen to life-long.
The crime debate is becoming a slippery fish, about to fall out of BN’s hands because this is one issue the people cannot just surrender to the collective brilliance of the PM and his consultants.
Their lives are involved. Even 11 years of state-sponsored brainwashing in public schools cannot override their survival instincts.
There will be more issues.
I’ll end by disagreeing. It is displeasing to be asked to stomach anything said by those in power indefinitely.
It is condescending throughout that grown men with families of their own appearing on TV telling the rest of us that our freedoms are a danger to our souls.
Are they deluded to think that there is a permanent caste system in this country? That the few get to decipher truth, and the rest of us are condemned to live through their truths or suffer?
We are going to keep talking whether they like it or not. They are welcome to have an opinion, as are all Malaysians.
So present your arguments and let the rakyat (people) decide.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.