February 27, 2016
Orwellian Newspeak Re-Run in Action
by Cmdr (rtd) S. Thayaparan
Words have no meaning for this Unpopular Malaysian Leader
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.” – George Orwell, 1984
COMMENT: Malaysians are used to Establishment personalities using wonderful euphemisms to describe bog standard tin pot practices that characterize countries abandoning their democratic principles. ‘Leakages’ for instance instead of ‘corruption’ was popular at one time, perhaps still is. We now have a new word when it comes to silencing the media, and that is ‘blockage’.
Access to The Malaysian Insider was blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) because “MCMC reminds news portals not to spread or publish articles whose veracity has yet to be confirmed. This could invite confusion and cause unwanted situations,” which apparently is only an offence if you are anyone but Utusan Malaysia , ISMA.org or the numerous other media (including bloggers) who spread unverified information in support of the UMNO Establishment.
Paying the Price of Poor Judgement
This of course is nothing new. When Tony Pua says, “The increasing brute and brazen attempts by the Najib administration to tear down the fourth estate – a critical pillar to check and balance those who are in power – will only go to demonstrate how we are closer to a banana republic than we think we are”, is merely a continuation of public policy that seemed more relaxed under the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi regime.
In ‘the press gangs of Malaysia’, I reminded folks that: ”With restrictions placed on how the opposition can disseminate their ‘news’ and the biased manner in which the state enforces its sedition laws, the propaganda organs of the BN are allowed to run riot (except of course if you’re a non-Malay propaganda organ, then you’re at the mercy of the right-wing faction of UMNO) all the while, the ‘opposition’ is hounded for everything they print as being enemies of the UMNO state.
“The alternative media assumes the role of watchdog for the simple fact that they will print (most times) almost anything that the mainstream media won’t touch. You would be amused at the euphemisms used by editors in the mainstream media in lieu of the term ‘official control’.
“If the Opposition is denied access to the mainstream media, then Malaysians should be thankful that they have an alternative media to turn to. After all, how many scoops of official corruption and individual malfeasances has the mainstream media presented to the public?
“How many times has the alternative media set the news agenda when it comes to issues facing the country unlike the manufactured nonsense meant to detract from governmental corruption put forth by the mainstream media?”
Blocking media is the most effective tool available to the current Najib Abdul Razak regime, fighting a political war on two fronts, the first against the opposition and citizens who support them and the second, against the UMNO Baru refuseniks, who continue challenging his stewardship of the gravy train.
‘The worst is yet to come’
Malaysiakini’s Steven, Freedom Fighter Che, and Asiasentinel’s John Bethelsen
However, as Steven Gan, the editor of Malaysiakini, reminds us, the worst is yet to come. For Malaysians especially those who have been opposing this regime, including the UMNO refuseniks, each passing day reveals the totalitarian endgame of the Najib regime.
In a speech last year, at the General Debate of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Najib opened his speech with this, “This session’s theme – ‘The United Nations at 70: the Road Ahead for Peace, Security and Human Rights’ – is timely. For we urgently need to find new approaches, to rise above the political divide and put people first, in an age when the old ways are proving inadequate to the challenges we face today.”
Of course, this is complete bunkum. The “old ways” which were carried out with a modicum of finesse under the Mahathir Mohamad administration and an accepting vote delivering public, has been perfected into a blunt cudgel under the Najib regime. All the Prime Minister’s men wield this weapon in the hopes that the emperor’s nakedness will go unmentioned.
In addition, as always, under the guise of being wise shepherds to an unruly flock, Islam is introduced as a tool of salvation, when the reality is that as practiced here in Malaysia, it is a tool of repression.
Comparing the goals of the Islamic State as anathema to “true” Islam, Najib laid out an alternative view of what constitutes an “Islamic State”:
“The Malaysian government has helped develop an important body of scholarship that does just that. An international group of Sunni and Shia scholars representing a cross-section of the global Muslim community was convened in Kuala Lumpur. Its mission was to define an Islamic State, based on the continuity of Islamic religious thought through the past 14 centuries.
“It is nothing like the entity in Syria and Iraq that usurps that name. The scholars unanimously emphasised that an Islamic State must deliver justice in all its forms – political, economic and in the courts – to its citizens. It must be based on the objectives of Shariah, or Maqasid Shariah, which is to protect and enhance life, religion, intellect, property, family and dignity.”
Now can anyone put forward the argument that under the Najib regime, Islam is the compassionate religion of peace that its advocates, want the world to see? Beyond banning books, banning the use of certain words, the calls for action against deviant teachings, the meme that Muslims need to be protected because they are easily confused, the demonisation of political parties based on race and religion, economic and social policies based on race and religion, is this really an alternative to the goals of the Islamic State?
Of course, relatively speaking anything is preferable to the goals of the Islamic State but never has the UMNO political Establishment given such a platform to the more virulent perspectives of Islam as this regime has.
UMNO folks who talk to me (they shall remain unnamed. Is this worthy of blockage?) who support the Najib regime, but who express chagrin and most often overt hostility, to the idea that these “extreme religious people” are attempting to dictate policy.
Mariam Mokhtar is uncomfortably close to the bullseye when she jokes in a recent piece “Good buddy, Abdul Hadi Awang of PAS, which is secretly known as the ‘UMNO Baru east coast division’, should be made the new culture minister. Hadi will enforce a ‘no excessive laughter’ rule, and will liaise with the Immigration Department to reject permits for foreign pop groups, unless they are nasyid groups from Aceh.”
With this in mind, as a responsible contributor to Malaysiakini, and as a public service announcement, I urge netizens to contribute to the country by self-blocking.