Right, to most Malaysian bloggers, this has become pretty much old news within the last 48 hours. But if you are still in the dark, it turns out that for the first time, Malaysian newspapers and certain parties have begun suing Malaysian bloggers for libel and defamation. The unfortunate blogs that are facing this happen to be Rocky’s Bru and Screenshots. Both of which are usually quite outspoken socio-political bloggers who would know what they are talking about. Now the question that I’m saying is that, why is anyone surprised by this? We all should have known it would come to this.
I warned all of you about this before. I blogged about the consequences of freedom of speech in a country without laws to cover our own asses. Yet because we’re too happy and carefree to think about the consequences of our actions, some of us are going to have to pay for that, it’s nice to know we can start acting only after things happen to us. At least that’s being Malaysian.
The thing is, while most people are talking about blogger solidarity and its support (which is good), I find that a lot of people are taking this without much objectivity (which is bad). I like the whole rallying thing among bloggers, but at the same time I’d like to know what’s going on before I start putting warpaint over my face and unloading my guns in the air. I know this case was set in motion a long way before this way back with the Mitch Albom/Brenden Pereira plagiarism scandal and political spin doctor people. But because that’s as far as I know, I’m not going to say anything more than that or draw any conclusion based on this. I would like to know the facts from someone that knows something and not just hearsay.
What I will say though is that this is unprecedented and when this goes to court, the future of how bloggers blog in Malaysia will rest solely on how we play this publically and how Jeff and Ahirudin play their hand. If they do have solid case then we really got nothing to worry about. If they don’t or if Malaysia is a little more screwy with its legal system than anyone thought, you can be pretty sure I’m staying put right here in Australia for years to come.
It’s a fact that Malaysia (whether it be bloggers themselves, the mainstream media or even the government) has underestimated it’s local blogging community in terms of what it can do with free speech. Then again, with only a handful of bloggers who are responsible for what they say, the rest of the local blogging community isn’t much of a role model for responsible blogging etiquette in the first place. Without some sort of an organized community with a useful purpose, blogging would never be taken seriously, not at least by the people higher up.
That being said, I do wish Jeff and Ahirudin luck in defending their right to free speech. I’m sure they can afford the legal fees, the rest of us however should take heed and will have to be a little more responsible of what we say rather than fearful of what will happen because I know I sure can’t pay any lawyer should I be dealt the same hand. I doubt a lot of you can too.