Monday, February 25, 2008

158] Of "badangs" and "blogoticians"

Of 'badangs' and 'blogoticians'
Azly Rahman | Feb 25, 08 2:20pm

The mythical Malay Frankenstein, Badang, has now morphed into "Agent Smiths" of movie The Matrix, fame in circa Malaysian 12th general election. If one is to believe in the Last Supper, the next one will see a banquet of a new regime. It might take the 13th general election henceforth to install a good check and balance system, in tune with "the scales" - the symbolism of the current ruling regime.

Badang is a monster created by human imagination—the technocratic fantasy of Man. It is a surrealistic being; meaning that Badang was created by a mad Majapahit scientist in antiquity, to help human beings extend their capability of roaming rudely but justifiably into cyberspace.

The Malays are not poor in Nostradamic ideas of change – the Puteri Buluh Betong was the first test-tube baby, Hang Tuah was a prototype of a Robocop and disguised as an over-glamourised fool, Hang Nadim was actually a clever investment banker who fooled the King of Temasik into importing banana trees to be planted along the shores of Singapura during a pre-meditated swordfish attack, Si Tenggang was a warning to Malays not to venture into frontierland and not challenge autocratic regimes. Raja Bersiong was a warning to modern Malaysians to be aware of blood-sucking leaders who control the oil-rich country's wealth and leave the poor of all races to protest on the streets and get arrested and pepper-sprayed.

As one who grew up in Johor Bahru, perhaps Si Bongkok Tanjung Puteri reminds me of the Malay's Beauty and the Beast—trapped in a dungeon waiting for the right time to come out and runamuck protesting against the rape of Johor through the newly-built corridors with a hegemonizing name "Iskandar Development Region".

When I begin my doctoral studies analysing the impact of digital communication technologies on "cybernating nations" such as Malaysia, I had statements I made in my weekly seminar on dissertation writing at Columbia University; that hypothesised the possibility of the Internet as a major player in the changing landscape of Malaysian politics.

I was studying the web "Laman Reformasi", run by Raja Petra Kamaruddin, way back in 1999 and sympathized with the plight of Malaysiakini when their servers were confiscated by the current regime. Little did I know that, through Fate decreed many years later I would be a columnist for both online portals. I decide to become a columnist after watching the story "A Beautiful Mind" about John Nash, the Princeton professor and Nobel Laureate in Mathematics.

I have since enjoyed sharing my views on many aspects of Malaysian politics, true to my calling as an academician. This is my contribution to society, from far.

Major force

Back in the year 1999, I made the prediction that the Internet will be a major force in "cybernating nations" such as Malaysia and that democratic spaces will be widened. In politics, the government, I hypothesised will be challenged by this protean technology and will be made aware of the death of distance and the birth of 'digital proletariatism". There will be creative anarchy in the nature of Malaysian democracy evolving.

I do not consider myself as a blogger in the real sense of the word, merely an archiver of some of my own writings. But I do see a role I can play in raising the level of political, cultural, and philosophical dialogue to a challenging level.

As campaigning begins, I see the impact of digital communications technologies increasing. I see bloggers you have never met, running for political office. One that will be the prototype is perhaps Mr. Jeff Ooi, an interesting case study of Malaysia' first "blogo-tician".

Broadcast media might be supreme as long as the rakyat is not yet fully digitally-literate. Government-owned and controlled television stations will be useful when the rakyat can be made to be stone-glued to their television sets. Hegemony of the ruling regime can continue to be maintained as long as the rakyat is given bread and circus (or roti canai and fun-fairs). This is the feature of the success of the previous 22-year old regime; one that began to crumble after the fall of the Thai Baht of 1997, after the Tom Yum Effect of 1997.

Why are governments afraid of the power of citizen journalism - and of the Internet in general? What will be the conclusion of this great war between government bloggers and Guevara-inspired guerrilla-like grassroots-based cyber-freedom fighters? Especially the one that is raging in Malaysiakini and Malaysia-Today; war that is bringing criminals from the battlefields of cyberspace into the real world of the interrogation rooms of the Anti-Corruption Agency. Ones that help expose wrongdoings of elected representatives and bring his downfall.

Battles that rage between ideas of totalitarianism in universities and prospects for a freedom of inquiry and anti-fascism in college classrooms. Spaces of knowledge that bring us up to date information on what magnitude of corruption the New Economic Policy has brought us after 37 years.

"Information wants to be free" as some Internet guru and philosopher of this cybernetic age might say. And as information leaves the author and transmits and transmutes itself, it assumes a life of its own. As the great historian Ibnu Khaldun would say, to the effect "as the hands writes nothing is erased…" Or, as the physicist Stephen Hawkings would say, even data that transmutes is a life-form in itself.

But why is the Malaysian government afraid of the power of the Frankenstein it has allowed to roam the streets of Cyberjaya. Why is Malaysia's "ministry of cybernetics" afraid of this creature the magnitude of the mythical "Badang" that becomes like "Agent Smiths" roaming the streets exposing brutishly the corrupt practices of men and women, screaming of these people to be brought to justice?

Who can stop our Agents Smiths – even if counter-agents called Malaysian cyber-troopers as those cybernetic soldiers of fortune are cloned and droned and then released into blogs to engage in battles of the cyberfrontier – in this Mahabaratha of Malaysian cyber-rama as the 12th general elections arrives?

Informational hegemony

The Internet is challenging the very root of informational hegemony; one that is built upon totalitarianism as a consequence of the 22 year-rule of the previous regime. The current regime is trying to create the same formula, not realizing that our Berlin Wall is crumbling. The younger politicians in the ruling regime are not reading the signs on the wall. They are still lulled by the ideology. The middle class has evolved. To demand for respect is wrong, the politicians need to earn them - not force the rakyat to accept them via threats. This is still happening even in our public universities, let alone in schools and the rural areas.

The Internet is going to be the biggest winner in the GE-12. "I blog, therefore I am" as I once said in a gathering of Malaysian students in Washington recently.

The rush to become powerful by the younger politicians is not going to be a smooth journey. Alternative media will play its role in checking them and also check-mating them.

But what changes do we see are going to happen to policies, after the general election? Already we are seeing that the current regime is like a Santa Claus, bringing goodies to the people.

I hope the universities are asking the current regime to release them from the shackles of the UUCA and the Akujanji and to teach our students how important it is to be politically conscious and to have the ultimate freedom in choosing their political future. In America, any student group can be formed based on political affiliation - so that college students can decide the next government free of threats. We are doing the wrong thing in Malaysia. Terribly wrong for the students and lecturers to be threatened if they are involved in raising political consciousness.

What will be the student/faculty respond to this threat?

Whatever the outcome of the GE-12 will be, demands for more freedom will continue to be made. Since four years ago, we have seen how the current regime has been "deconstructed" and made accountable to what they have done. Of course things have worked quiet well but many are still terribly wrong. Criticisms on our democratic practices is an evolving act. Ultimately, I think, race-based politics and political arrangements is going to lose its relevance, making way for a truly multicultural two party system that is going to be evaluated based on the merit of their honesty and commitment to humanistic and humanitarian ideals. In all these, the Internet has played an important role in deconstructionism.

Essentially, through education for political consciousness in cyberspace, Malaysians are beginning to educate each other that race, ethnicity, and color are merely "constructs" and works well with the ideology of "social dominance" such as "ketuanan Melayu" or the "ketuanan of any race".

The real basis of human nature is the DNA. It is with this premise that we can look a the children of all races as "gifts of the Creator" to be fully developed, nurtured, and educated out of the prejudices of their parents. Through the lens of the DNA, we will not need the NEP, nor any form or mutation of race-based politics. Even the "myth of the lazy native" will remain a myth.

The real winner in Malaysia's general elections is again, technology of the body - the Internet and cyberspace. Badangs and blogoticians are the forces that will be with us.


yapchongyee said...
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yapchongyee said...


Politicians are all the same, and they are all consistently unreliable , because if he is reliable then he will not survive as a politician, therefore is Kheng Yaik any better than Dato Seri Anwar; I can say for certain that one is no better than the other. What I am saying is that we do not need to know anything about any particular candidate. We really do not need to know whether he is a good man or otherwise; and this perspective runs counter to what everybody is saying about what this has done or have not done. It is absolutely pretentious to claim that we are able to correctly assess the character of Dato Seri or Kheng Yaik and determine who is the better man. I SUPPORT DATO SERI ANWAR and I live in Australia therefore what do I know about Dato Sari. I do not a thing about him, and that is the thing about politics, IT IS ALL ABOUT PERCEPTION. In fact from my perspective, I will vote for Dato Seri Anwar even if I believe that Kheng Yaik and that Dato Seri is a chameleon and Kheng Yaik is correct. As I had earlier said I do not need to know anything about Dato Seri because I deal with the democratic process, I vote him because he says that under his government, RACE POLITICS WILL BE ABOLISHED and I want that so I vote for him and I do not need to know how good or bad he is. PROVE TO US WHEN YOU ARE IN GOVERNMENT OR WE VOTE YOU OUT. We therefore need to start to vote for the opposition to start the democratic process. We need to throw or better destroy UMNO now.

Dear my Chinese & Indian brothers, do not listen to Kheng Yaik because he is an UMNO dog and he will sell his mother or his wife to gain FAVOUR from the PM and UMNO. These are the UMNO dogs who hang out their tongues for CSRAPS THROWN FROM UMNO TABLE to the dining room floor. I spit on these MCA, MIC and Gerakhan dogs.

Kheng Yaik says that it was Dato Seri Anwar who put in place all those provisions that retarded the progress of Chinese education and that it was he & Najib who repealed it; let us examine Kheng Yaik’s statement to assess the credibility of his claim. I will first call Kheng Yaik A LIAR and then I will go on to examine what I mean by that epithet. I call Kheng Yaik a liar because the minister merely implements GOVERNMENT POLICY. In fact all decisions made by the Cabinet are made binding all ministers as one as ministerial cabinet collective decision. What Kheng Yaik is talking about is government policy and such policy are by the very nature taken by the PARTY IN GOVERNMENT and the minister’s function is to implement the details that will make the policy work on the ground; only UMNO as a party can change such policy and it is disingenuous to say that Najib revoked it. Having said that it can only be true that neither Najib nor Dato Seri could by himself revoke what Kheng Yaik claims credit for himself and Najib.

In this respect the powers of the minister controls only the details of implementation; but of course he has powers to grant exception in individual cases but not to change policy except with the agreement of cabinet. The Malaysian model of government mirrors that of the British. I anticipate that readers will want to ask me if ministers are so without powers then how is it that they can make money so corruptly; the answer to that question is in the power of the minister to approve contracts or such like. These functions belong to the Minister’s portfolio and they relate to “implementation. Therefore it is not true what Kheng Yaik says that it was najib who removed the offending laws that disadvantaged the Chinese.

The democratic process is all about checks and balances; therefore how can there be checks and balances if our Chinese & Indian brothers keep voting UMNO. If UMNO knows that we are all their SLAVES then where is there a need for UMNO to do what is just in line with our minority interests ? We have like a bunch of fools fear reprisals and we keep voting UMNO so do we not deserve to be spat on by UMNO as they are doing even as of now? Our duty to our selves is to vote UMNO out because it has always been UMNO that has formed government. Do we not owe it to our children and their children to pressure UMNO to act in our interests or we will put them out of business. WE NEED TO START AT THIS ELECTION TO START THE PROCESS GOING. If Keadilan, PAS DAP do not act in our interest when they are in power then in the next election we can vote them out. We need to start and now is as good a time as any. VOTE KEADILAN, DAP, PAS FOR CHANGE !

yapchongyee said...
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yapchongyee said...

IN DEFENSE OF Dato Seri Anwar

Hey! Dr Chandra Muzaffar are you trying to dazzle the poor Malaysians with your “Doctor” whatever that stands for; please la Doc. That Phd. Does not mean shit, It does not make you more intelligent and it does not neam that you are any smater than when you started. A Phd. Just means that you had taken an in depth study of one aspect of a subject and as a matter of fact a Phd merely leads to a career in teaching, Our Asian people are so awed by that Phd., thinking that these Phd. Types Know it all, nothing is further from the truth.

Comrade Chandra to my way of thinking, and by your claims made against Dato Seri, I say that you are bloody naïve. We are all humans (I think so) and we have emotions and full of bias and prejudices; and above all we are in truth all racist. I am racist & you are racist, and the only difference between a Mahatma Ghandi type saint and an ARYAN Nazi thug is that most of us who dare claim that he is not racist (you can leave me out because I am racist) are those who’ve got a two bit claim to having higher education, a wanna be intelltual. Comrade Chandra says that Dato Seri in the past had been consistently not in favour of Chinese and maybe he is truthful, while Dr Lim Kheng Yaik claims that Dato Seri is chamileon and in Lim Kheng Yaik’s experience with Dato Seri he could be speaking the truth. Bearing in mind that we all carry a lot of baggage are we correct in our estimation of the man. We are all very complex and we are all driven by self interests; therefore what oue see is not really what is the man ! We can never tell what a man will do in all circumstances because what we see as the man is only the tip of the iceberg.

Politics is all about perception and creating an IMAGE of the politician, and we just cannot know what the whole man is in truth. For Dr Chandra & Dr Lim Kheng Yaik to say that they both ahd worked with Dato Seri and that they know the man is ingenious. Both these Dr.’s are playing their support for the BN and not quite really to give an assessment of Dato Seri for what he is factually, because that will be beyond their capability. Having said that I say both of them are naïve THAT IS NOT HOW THE GAME OF POLITICS IS PLAYED. We can only take Dato Seri at his word and the issue is therefore ARE WE HAPPY WITH HIS PROGRAMME FOR HIS GOVERNMENT ? That to my mind is all that we need to ask and we will have to take him at his word; because we just cannot do otherwise. WE DO NOT NEED TO KNOW WHAT IN TRUTH HE IS LIKE AND THAT BY OUR UNDERSTANDING HE WILL OR WILL NOT DLIVER WHAT HE HAD PROMISED FOR THE ELECTION. There is no need to go too far out of the way; ask yourselves what had BN promised for the last election (1999) and did BN deliver ? I do not think so !

Dato Seri and the United Front of DAP, PAS and Keadilan HAS MADE IT THEIR PLATFORM that if elected he and his United Front will deliver a GOVERNMENT FOR ALL MALAYSIANS AND TO STEP BACK FROM RACE BASED POLITICS. That is what we must accept for the truth; and if he ever fail to deliver then the next election vote him and his United Front out. This is what will therefore develop into a TWO PARTY POLITICAL STRUCTURE. Is this not what we want, and what is the profit if we just not believe him and we merely take the word og the two Dr.’s both of them are pretentious and know it all. I say do not listen to them shooting hot air. VOTE OPPOSITION and let 2 party politics develop.

Lecture: Edward Said


Lecture: Noam Chomsky


Lecture: Jacques Derrida


Lecture: Jean Paul Sartre


Movie: 1984


Movie: Animal Farm


Movie: Chicken Run


Poems: Rumi


Dialogue on Religion: Karen Armstrong


Dailogue on Religion: Huston Smith


















The Bhagavad Gita


Jesus of Nazareth


Siddharta Gautama


Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh)