The March to Putrajaya now available in Internet
LETTERS/SURAT

Sunday, 03 October 2010 Combat

By Kim Quek

The book The March to Putrajaya Malaysias New Era is at Hand, which was recently banned by the Malaysian Home Minister, is available at the Internet. By going to www.themarchtoputrajaya.com, readers can view as well as download the contents of the book.

This is as it should be. Citizens of a country should not be deprived of free access to information by the government simply because such information is deemed unfavourable to the regime.

A country where its citizens are habitually fed with state-controlled information and nothing else is a backward country which is bound to fail in this information and globalised age.

The reason is simple. No government likes to churn out information that puts it in bad light, and no society that is starved of open and balanced information can thrive and prosper in this fiercely competitive IT age.

If we look around the world, all the countries that are consistently ranked the best and the most admired for its social and economic achievement are societies that have free media. It is only through free flow of ideas that potentials of the mind can be fully developed. And it is the quality of the mind that determines the rate of progression or even regression of a society.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) government says Malaysia under its rule will leapfrog to the developed-country status within a decade. But that is a boast that no one believes, given the wretched state of affairs that BN has led the country into. The vitality of our economy has long sapped due to drying up of new investment, our institutions have lost the confidence and trust of the people, social dissension due to endless racial and religious squabbling has reached unprecedented levels, and corruption continues to thrive.

Aware of these problems, BN has decided to do window dressing to check dwindling popular support. It has spent hundreds of millions of ringgit of taxpayers money to produce mottoes and massive publicity while ignoring and not treating the root causes. And part of that strategy is to stamp out unfavourable media material and suppress political opposition. This is manifested in the rapid rise of harassing of bookshops through confiscation, banning of books, withdrawal of publication licenses, summoning of politicians and dissidents to police stations on frivolous grounds and even arbitrary arrests.

These repressive measures only confirm that BNs reform slogans are hollow.

If there is serious intention to institute reforms, BN would have taken long term measures which would have tackled the root causes, instead of these ad hoc and short term reflexes which ironically would work against BN instead, by catalysing further opposition and brewing greater discontent.

BN should have realized that the age of repression Nazi style through clamping down the media and blaring loud propaganda and arbitrary arrests is long gone. The Internet and the various IT gadgets have made that system of rule obsolete. This is easily proven in the case of my banned book, which is now propelled to the world stage through the Internet instead of being burried by repressive laws, as anyone in the world can read it instantly with only a click of his finger.

If BN is sincere to bring happiness to the people, it will never throw a blanket on free dissemination of information, because that would cause mass ignorance and degradation of the mind, which would in turn retard social advancement. The inevitable end result in the long run is mass poverty and misery.

Genuine reforms mean eradicating corruption and abuse of power, and the substitution of bad values with good ones. And what better way to achieve that than by allowing a free media to act as watchdog as well as conduit and nursery of creative ideas? Unless, of course, there is the absence of political will to leave the existing comfort zone of corruption and decay. Malaysia-today....