‘Court of Public Opinion’ is the right tool within a ‘Civil Society’?

Today is World Free Press Day. It is a commemoration that the cyber citizens of the borderless blogosphere are reminding ourselves that in our world, information flows freely, limited only with the advancement of technology and access.

Free Press means that there is an absolute democracy in journalism and broadcasting, over conventional or alternative medium, including the blogosphere. The proposition that the user will decide on the acceptability of the information presented. The issue of ethics and moral conduct is never a parameter or consideration.

It also means the ‘Court of Public Opinion’ rules the day. In this court, what matters most is about how the information and arguments have been presented. Of course, the rate of intensity of the issues brought forth, is pertinent to make the propaganda work and be instilled into the mind of ‘like-minded’ people. Bloggers and blog users, now increasing at an exponential rate, are free to talk about anything, anytime, anywhere, without any regards to convention or legislature.

Malaysian bloggers has also embraced this. In the recently concluded Bloggers United Malaysia (BUM 2008 ) do, themed ‘Civil Society’, this issue was raised as a ‘compulsory agenda’ and as terms of reference. This is supposed to be positive and good, as the Malaysian society is being propelled into the ambit of a more mature, open and organized structure and practices.

In actual practice, are we really progressing towards all of these positive nodes? Or are we digressing, with some other vector, worst still, at an alarming speed?

This ‘freedom of speech and expression’, that so many talked about and aspire to practice, is currently moving towards an unjust and if one may add, ‘uncivil’ direction where baseless accusations and figments of someone’s wild imaginations being hurled at a third party which such intensity. Coincidences and convenient circumstances have been arranged, angled and presented in such a convincing choice of words, that some of these ‘like-minded and civil socialites’ personal agenda, hatred and morbid obsessions had been trumpeted into somewhat deafening message, especially in here, the blogosphere. Of course, this comes as very popular and much sought-after materials of the many alternative media junkies lurking within this fifth estate.

As they say in propaganda theory, that when a lie is talked about and passed on ten times over, it becomes the truth. William Shakespeare also said “The bigger the lie is, the more people would believe in it”. Worse of all, the weak mind, craves for these ‘nonsenseness’ and such carefully worded concoction of, till present, unexplained mysteries have now been regarded as the ‘Gospel truth’, or somewhere there about.

‘Court of public opinion’, made popular and now obsessively clear deemed with a direct intended agenda by some politician, who saw himself coming back into the mainstream political at the misery of other people and lies propagated into the ‘Gospel truth’. This is not something new. Nine-ten years ago, it was the same node and modus operandi, only with lesser intensity as communications and information technology were not as sophisticated then.

A convenient example is the case against Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak in his so-called involvement of the ‘Altantuya brutal murder’ and of course, the kickbacks from the Scorpene and Sukhoi military acquisition deals. Here in blogosphere, as far back as June 2007, we saw how “Blogosphere Drama Queen” Susan Loone obsessively posted on the murder and Najib’s involvement, 63 times before the trio were actually charged in court and the trial commenced. That was at a rate of one posting every three days, on the same topic! Then again, during the Ijok by-election in April 2007, Anwar Ibrahim’s entire campaign was solely centred on the “Scorpene and Sukhoi deal kickbacks” and nothing else. Not even how PKR is supposed to help the Ijok people.

Again, at the point where BN leadership is very weak, BN at its lowest ebb in history and the PKR-led Pakatan Rakyat is not quite anywhere yet ( in forming a Federal Government), the ‘gun sight’ is centered back onto Najib’s head. Most probably, it is because Najib would be the best option on the plate so far, to take over and revive BN. It became so intensive this round, that they even dragged poor and desperate Dr. Setev to Parliament (on top of the various press statements already arranged, including in PKR HQ). Later, they even resorted to make slanderous accusations against Najib’s wife, without any shred of adducible evidence, except in the ‘Court of Public Opinion’.

So as we, in blogosphere, ever so zestfully moving towards the ‘Civil Society’, want to be played and pawned into someone’s political agenda, at any time? Is the agenda of a ‘Civil Society’ is actually marionetted into someone’s conniving agenda into a state of anarchy, where one shall rise to power and brilliantly thrive as the “Saviour”, from the ashes of burnt and dismantled society?

Players and pawns in this particular ‘Court of Public Opinion’ provoked the system, in whatever avenue they can and want to capitalise every opportunity whenever actions be taken against them, be it through public or private prosecution. They blatantly disregard any form of structure, ethics, conducts and rules, except when played by them, with constantly changing goal posts and size, at their convenience.

As we clearly remembered, all these accusations hurled by the same man who once accused the authorities of arsenic poisoning him whilst in jail, promoted and instigated grave disobedience and uncivil conducts via ‘Reformasi’ and whose political secretary went to jail failing to adduce the “Six boxes of corrupt practices documents”, till present. This man, is known for his ability to put up an act to different sets of audience.

At the end of the day, the rules of the ‘Court of Public Opinion’ varies no difference from the ‘Court of Anarchist’, where lawlessness and civil disobedience rules. So if we are really going towards a ‘Civil Society’, then we should find any other means, platforms and venues to exchange healthy and intellectual discourse, especially with some degree of structure, accepted rules of conduct and civility, but the ‘Court of Public Opinion’.

Published in: on May 3, 2008 at 15:51  Comments (18)