Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim feels obliged to let us know (again) that the space for free speech (er, for want of a better description) around us is shrinking. Fast. In a news report, our old, new minister claims there is a 'proposal' by some quarters to register bloggers, that while it's a "good idea" our minister thinks it needs indepth study. Bloggers are grateful for the reprieve.
"Meanwhile, we are studying a new Act, the Multimedia Signature Act, which has been in the pipeline the past three years. This Act is expected to support the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998," he said.Well, the man is busy busy keeping the pipeline flowing for sure.
If you ask me, all these pronouncements since Rais took office (and in the wake of March 8 too) are part of an ongoing psy-war to put the lid on dissenting voices. A hint here, a dinner there, a meet-the-bloggers session, another comment on acts and laws, a reminder on patriotic songs, etc. They have the cheery disposition of Hannibal Lecter - mildly genial, but laced with menace.
Newspaper editorials are on the offensive - more than ever. TV is unapologetically slathering viewers with propaganda and spin. And no, you're not allowed to mention a certain mongolian. Nor are we allowed to see the poor Perak speaker manhandled and dragged out like a sack of potatoes.
Out on the streets, candlelight and black are ingredients for a night in the slammer. It's amazing what a shiny badge and a loudhailer can do to an otherwise dawdling man in blue. The police are flexing their muscles with new found relish arresting people for illegal assembly - imagine, 40 riot police descending on 16 non-violent protesters. Lawyers are detained for doing their job. So who's minding the streets and keeping us safe from the mat rempits (or samseng jalan, now that these guys no longer enjoy UMNO youth's attention)?
Something is certainly going on, since our new PM heaved upon the stage in a blaze of PR, trumpeting a new national slogan. But it's all ear candy. You can fool some people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time. Malaysians know the 1 thing on PM Najib's mind and the 1 thing on BN's agenda. And it's not about what the people need.
The Empire is striking back.