Thursday, August 16, 2012

114A - An Inconvenient Issue

In short, I am still split. But I believe good things have come out of this.

It has been an eventful year for me, full of ups and downs and the lesson for this year, which is THE lesson  every year, is to relax. Especially to the Government. No matter what they decide on this thing, the Government should have one voice and the channels reporting that voice should also be clear.

Remember Lynas? I believe the radioactive bullshit spin by PR worked to a small degree because there was very little info coming out in a digestible, easy-to-understand communique. Screaming and yelling at people, calling them retards would not work as successfully as proper engagement and explanation. The condescending tactics work for only a small section of the people.

The 114A issue, like my year, and sometimes my dick, was also full of ups and downs. Mostly up, actually - also like my dick. For the first time ever, I saw a bunch of people taking interest in something as uncool as the legislature, and how our system works.

Drowning in porn, I didn't give a shit, and so did many of you online right now. But you're listening, right? Some of you are. Not to me - but to the issue.

Granted, most of my observations are made based on social media - and regardless of how many fake followers you have, it is still not an accurate representation of the entire Malaysian population.

That being said, there are real people behind all those names and they have a reach and a network which cannot be ignored. And some of them are quite hot. There are days when I stalk some hot chicks and see the online footprint they left over the years, hoping that some naked pix or porn videos show up, submitted to certain online services by disgruntled boyfriends or husbands.

"Melayu bogel" is a crude search term and totally inappropriate for decent company.

I much prefer the idea of an interactive Government that engages people, crowd sources information and feedback rather than the old version which gambles on getting the right man for the right focus group. Dr M has been a success, in my book, but some others not so.

Back to 114A, everything boils down to a few things:

1. The section is, in my opinion and a few others, a bit too vague and a blanket thing which does encroach on civil liberties. Hearing things from many sources, I concur with some so-far silent parties such as Sore Throat's group who believe there should be a bylaw properly defining liabilities.

2. The accountability of the evidence is not the same as accountability of the crime. So, the equally blanket term used by some opponents, that this section creates "presumed guilt before innocence" is, in my opinion, an over-simplification or Hollywoodisation. That being said, a statement that is closer to the truth is perhaps "presumed accountability of evidence before innocence" which, if we have evil, cunning people in this country, could perhaps be manipulated for injustice or at the very least cause inconvenience to people. Of course, everyone in Malaysia plays nice.

3. Lack of communication. It was not specified what this thing is for. Rumour has it that there could be some cases that would require this law in order to even be investigated. I believe the law people should make clear what this thing will be used for, and how it will be used, thus limiting the cause for speculation - some wild and some not so wild.

4. The unique nature of the Internet. I do not believe that the new media works the same way as traditional media. Therefore, placing the same or similar laws on the Internet as they would on mainstream, may or may not work.

For example, much has been made of tracking IP addresses and server logs and things with molecular structure and this is my boomstick. However, there are ways to go around these things and tampering of evidence is a serious concern. I can think of several ways to try and take advantage of this thing, on how to abuse it and cause lots of mischief. Not convictions, just mischief and mayhem. Granted, I am a novice and proper tech people should be consulted.

5. Faith and trust. Another core matter is our faith in the system as well as our trust in people. This new section will not be abused if nobody tries to do so. Or if any section of our legal system do their jobs properly. I do not believe the AG loses sleep at night, thinking of ways to screw me over. While being handsome, I am insignificant compared to other suspected terrorists such as Mas Selamat, who in my opinion is less handsome. Did I say other, suspected terrorists? I meant, other public figures such as Mas Selamat.

That being said, I have a natural distrust of people. I am unsure that having 114A will not result in it being misused, towards any capacity. Even a small one would be enough of an inconvenience.

In the end, I believe this question sums up my thoughts on the issue: Would you trade your civil liberties - even if a tiny fraction - for the fight against real crimes such as libel and sedition?

It is a debate that is carried by the series 24. We want Jack Bauer to fuck this or that terrorist up, but it's against civil liberties and in some cases human decency. In real life, no, but in fiction, yes? So, where do we stand?

This is a personal, subjective thing. An example is our ICs, which is an encroachment of our civil liberties, freedom, etc, and has caused inconveniences to some people, but has been very good in getting petrol subsidies or for laughing at photos of our friends when they were younger and had stupid hair.

For me, I stand by my original shit, which is for protecting our liberties and our freedom. As a founding father of the United States of America, I am unwilling to trade it for anything else. Not even porn. Well, maybe for US$400 million, but nobody but me values it that high.

I believe there should at least be further discussion on the issue, by learned people, policy makers, law dudes and techno thought leaders, with less politicking and observation of party lines, but more for the interest of  citizens of the country, protecting our freedom, liberties and safety.

It is not an easy issue, and I believe racing to support one side or the other is not in the best interest of anyone. Especially the Government.

When  I heard rumours of the Cabinet not willing to discuss 114A after the PM said they will, I thought, "Holy shit, we have a real democracy?" Of course people jumped on the news - hysterically, both humorous and that other definition.

Then it was clarified by another news source that the Cabinet is discussing it very seriously, and I thought, "Man, I am so cool because I did not react."

Whatever it is they do with this, I hope they get it right.

One last thing is, party line. I have seen that the tendency for people is to react one way or another to toe party, panty or populist lines. Fine. But I hope one day we can make our decisions not based on our labels or brands that we carry or promote, but more on reason and discourse.

I have been quite serious in this issue, and I do not apologise. Internet freedom is something very dear to me and the very idea of a Government that listens to voices usually unheard or even engages with the people at the bottom of the food chain shows me a glint of possibility that we can do away with traditional politics. Maybe one day, we won't even need an Opposition. The Government can speak directly to the people, and we can forward our queries and concerns to our representatives, over new media, sans dick jokes.

It is already happening, on many different levels, and perhaps the most important thing is to keep channels open, safe and secure for now.