Wednesday, March 16, 2005


“Tightly controlled” is how Malaysia is often referred to. Although in some ways its citizens enjoy greater latitude compared to other Muslim countries, there are signs that the grip is tightening. Take blogging for instance. Opinionated Malaysian bloggers who think freedom of expression is a right will find out soon enough that in this country at least, it is a privilege. No, not just a privilege, but a risk.

This privilege is defined by legislations implicit and explicit (and a host of unwritten taboos) purportedly to serve national interest. Stick your nose too far and you’re liable to have it bloodied. Popular blogger Jeff Ooi of Screenshots knows something about this being one of Malaysia’s most read blogger (if not the most influential). Now fellow blogger Mack Zulkifli finds himself playing host to ‘unofficial’ visits by the police and government officials. No one relishes becoming a celeb blogger with fans like these.

That’s not all. Veteran journalist and commentator MGG Pillai laments ugly comments from ‘vigilante bigots’ who threaten civil discourse. I do not always agree with MGG’s views but he’s right that we have become a nation cowered into silence, not least by fear of the law, stalkers and bigots, but also a deadening of the spirit. It may explain why so many Christian bloggers here (including myself) find it easier to write about theology, church, philosophy, travel, the arts, books, what we did last weekend, who made us cry. Politics? Uh-uh. Social commentary? Ditto.

Controversial Christian intellectual, activist, and student of Francis Schaeffer Vishal Mangalwadi once wrote:
“Christ’s mercy did not touch the individual alone. It sought to touch the heart of a society. It sought to awaken the sleeping conscience of society. It troubled the stagnant waters which brought about a torrent of retaliation from vested interests.”
He was commenting on Jesus’ healing of the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda in John 5. Mangalwadi insists that Jesus’ act of healing did more than make a paralysed man walk; it was a deliberate provocation of the Establishment. Jesus went about doing good, but for all he taught and the good he did, he was above all seen as a troublemaker.

Now that’s scary. Provocateur. Troublemaker. Who? Me?

1 comment:

Sivin Kit said...

thanks for the Vishal link ... exciting!