The Malaysian Government has begun what many think is a crack down on dissent. It has arrested one MP, one journalist and a vocal online editor under the ISA. nd its issued show cause letter to three newspapers. The feeling among many Malaysians is that the crackdown will intensify.
This crackdown comes against a backdrop of a perception of rising racial tensions. It also comes a few days before September 16, the date that Anwar Ibrahim has said he will seize power by getting government MPs to jump ship to his camp.
By cracking down the Government is trying to frighten people into silence and submission. To strengthen this intimidation someone is fanning the racial fires behind the scenes so that the fear is intensified – fear o arrest by the government plus fear of another May 13 type racial riot.
This is the same modus operandi of the government in 1987 when they mounted Operasi Lalang.
It worked then because Mahathir was Machiavellian and brutal. He was also smart and resolute. But it also worked because in 1987, once you shut down the more vocal mass media and cowed the others you essentially had a blackout on news which helped to fuel the fear, paranoia and interracial suspicion.
Unspun thinks, however, that this time it won’t work. It won’t work because this time the Web has made information freely available and Malaysians can talk to each other. Whereas before information and communication isolation made people vulnerable to paranoia, this time around you have Chinese, Malays, Indians and others speaking up on the net, asking their fellow Malaysians to remail calm, to let level heads prevail and that we are more Bangsa Malaysia rather than Malays, Chinese or Indians.
The Government is now a lame duck and unless there is an excuse for them to crack don brutally its lifespan is abou over.
What all Malaysians who care about their country should do is remain calm, refuse to be panicked and refuse to be afraid. The ISA is an instrument of fear. But it is only as fearful as fear itself. So Unspun‘s little contribution to a freer Malaysia is the button above. Not because Unspun is brave or gung-ho. But because Unspun, like so many other Malaysians is fed up with the arrogance of the Barisan Nasional. Absolutely fed up.