‘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)  

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18 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Civil society by whose definition? Bloggers? I’m afraid not. The majority of bloggers have their own interpretation of what civil society should be and more often than not, forcibly impressed it on their readers. Why? Their readers’ mind have been shaped by the bloggers and what these bloggers are to say would be taken as the gospel truth. Perhaps these ‘civil society bloggers’, for want of a better word, idolised Goering. If you tell a lie often enough, than it becomes the truth.

    Similarly, when one is to talk about the Court of Public Opinion, it is critical to determine who and what circumstance shape the public opinion. Granted, there will always be those who are anti-establishment, no matter who is in power. Given these sets of rule, then the Court of Public Opinion is no better than the court appointed by the legal government in power. The shapers of the public opinion continuously promote what they perceive to be facts, not discounting the slanders and innuendos they might throw at the person stand accused, and they have the temerity to say that the person accused has been adjudged by the Court of Public Opinion. So, now who takes on the role of Judge, Jury and Executioner? Whatever happen to the legal maxim that a person accused is innocent until proven guilty? Provide facts, not slanders and innuendos. Don’t talk about “facts discovered” at your regular boozing haunts. Don’t talk about issues uncovered while having coffee at swanky places. That, my friend, is something that we all have to learn first before promoting Civil Society.

    Another salient point to be noted is that in a Civil Society, be civil to each other. Alas, bloggers and commenter alike, they let loose profanity under the pretext of freedom of speech. Right, like I like to read profanities, slanders and innuendos. And just in case bloggers have forgotten, young people, even at school-going age, do read blogs. So, it is not wrong to use profanities, spreading slander and innuendo in an attempt to educate our children. I hope you guys can remember this. I for one do not want my child to end up a swearing rumour monger. Perhaps you do. This is a situation that can be best described as Freedom in Fetters… We only have ourselves to blame if the freedom granted now is curtailed as we do not care to express ourselves in a civil manner.

    Until we can address this, forget about civil society.

  2. Well said big guy..totally agree with you..i’m starting to feel that some bloggers not sincere and like to spread rumours than facts..

  3. Agree with you too. Sometimes the articles in the ‘other’ blog are too much , not to mention the response by some of the readers. I do feel that the owner of the blog thinks that he is well above the law.

  4. court of public opinion is likened to a free market enterprise

    u have story, u can tell, if it is too good to refuse ppl will clamour to buy it..in the end reality set in, it is just a piece of crap

    we should be grateful, in anything there is TRUTH, so as long one leaned on nothing but the truth we shall fear nothing but the truth

    especially from the standpoint of any Muslem

    so i wouldnt be so fearful of this court of PoP but one thing that surely can impede for example government policies in progressing the nation is what impact such PoP to ‘the masses’

    because once any news reach the masses, herd mentality will set in, no matther truthful somebody is, the emotion of the masses acting like a tsunami , over run the truth(temporarily) for sometime till situation is settling down and for this reason the Police or ISA are so important in the fabric society like Malaysia.

    in the end one needs to decipher anything reached oneself but being human, emotion always rules oneself so jumping to the bandwagon is the what ppl normally do, saving cost of thinking too.

  5. Ah yes, the all famous “Freedom of the Press”, can’t blame many people for believing it is another Western invention to say anything they want about developing countries. I remember TDM saying that “yes of course we want freedom of the press, but it doesn’t mean you have the freedom to print lies”. Similar to blogging, it was meant to simply share your writings, not to instigate, which sadly the blogs in Malaysia are more well known for.

  6. civil society? apa anak musang apa 2 perkataan ini dalam kamus Melayu di sini? ada juga dengar civil society pun berkumandang di negara jauh Cuba untuk jatuhkan kerajaan revolusi sana. jika konsep civil society diterjemah jadi ‘masyarakat madani’, sapa yang bawa, sapa yang jemput masuk ke Tanah Melayu peninggalan moyang saya?
    sebahagian golongan menengah semasa giat berfungsi menjadi wakil arus perdana yang menciplak dan mendendang konsep-konsep hidup dakwa mereka universal. jika ditanya apakah civil society itu universal, dengan tegas sudah tentu kepala mereka akan mengangguk setuju. mungkin ditambah penanya soalan bertanya soalan bodoh. mungkin diketawakan jika soalan itu tiba-tiba timbul oleh si mamat entah dari mana dalam kelompok majlis peguam.
    kawan, apa itu universal? sejak bila hidup dalam sebuah negara yang wujud dan jelas rantaian warisannya perlu terhegeh-hegeh memeluk, menelan konsep-konsep hidup luar dari alam sempadannya? Yang kononnya adil?
    dulu ya, kebenaran disumbat dalam otak nenek moyang saya. kononnya demokrasi, adil maksudnya – natijahnya berteriak-teriak menuntut hak. gila! tuntut hak pada siapa?
    individu kampungan yang jarang-jarang sekali ke bandar akan terhegeh-hegeh menghayun tangan waktu keliling bandar, sampai berpeluh-peluh (maklum saja bukan biasa dengan bahang bandar). kategori individu kampungan ini SAMA dengan individu yang asyik mendendang civil society terhegeh-hegeh bersilat tangan ke atas dan terkumat-kamit mulutnya, sampai berpeluh-peluh juga berpusing cakap mengulang perkara sama (maklum saja idea didengung idea ciplak dan hanya mengikut kandungan skrip orang di luar sempadan sana).

  7. If RPK is wrong, then arrest him and get him in court. Expose his fallacies. Why is Rosmah wayang kulit? “everything they say is salah, only I know the truth”. Typical UMNO, only UMNO knows the truth but they are not going to share it. So trust them…
    We’ve seen the impact of trust given to UMNO and BN (PKFZ, Balkis, ladang babi Selangor, shredded files upon changing state governments, etc.).
    Guys grow up! Otherwise there will be no BN to talk about by 2013.

  8. Curious isn’t it? It seems that Mahathir’s terminal case of double-standards has also unfortunately infected his followers.

    Tell me BigDog, is sauce for the goose not also good for the gander?

  9. Don’t need to be arrested or sent to court. I think somebody needs to remind him that he is a Malaysian Malay who still lives in Malaysia..I do felt that this guy thinks he is a white man living in Europe or US..

  10. Hi, hi, biggie.
    Very good one… are u trying to confuse the enemy or are u confused yourself ??

    The main issue here is UMNO has lost the control… fix that one first, from inside !!!

  11. muahhaha…dari dulu lagi aku kata..si mamat RPK bengong ni dah besar kepala..kononya dia sekor pandai..makin lama pihak berkuasa tak ambuk tindakan..makin la merapu dia…

    setiap kali dia dipanggil siasat..dia buat2 cerita kononya masa dia dsiiasat…dia mencabar polis..dan membuat lakonan semual untuk pembaca blognye(majoriti cina)agar nampak dia SUPER COOL EXTRA BRAVE AND MAGNIFICENTLY CLEVER GUY…dan menulis bagaiman dia membodohkan polis dan semua yg nak dakwa dia…

    mauahahhah…tu aku kata…tak mungkin polis bodoh sampai macam diceritanya…tali hayat si RPK ni hanyalah paklah dan anwar yg berpakat supaya dia lepas…memang susah nak percaya..tapi ape lagi logical explaination yg dapat kita buat???

    -dia buat perbagai cerita merapu dan fiksyen ..tohmana2 tanpa bukti ape2 pun..malah siap tulis nama yg difitnah tanpa selindung….kenapa takde tindakan???

    – dia selalu incite racialanger…selau provoke islam dan melayu..selalu provoke cina dan india supya benci islam dan melayu..terang2..dan tanpa fakta…kenapa takde tindakan???

    -malah dia biarkan cina2 apek dan kerling komen dan hina islam sampaikan mengata nabi ti paedophile….pembunuh etc2…bila forumer islam nak sangkal..dia ban..(aku dah kena)…

    so tak yah la layan blog merapu tajaan yahudi tu…dia pun bukan ngaku melayu pun..bini cina….perasan mat salleh..dan bongkak sebab hari2 cina apek dap komunis duk puji2 dia dalam tu…kononya “OPEN MINDED”..tetapi apasal cina2 tu kalau open sangat..sekolah cina tak mau tutup???uhhuhuuhhu..kata “OPEN MINDED”ONE NATION..MALAYSIAN MALAYSIA????

    mauahahh…..tu la pasal..melayu yg “KONONYA” open minded dan profesional ni terlalu ikutkan konsep yg dibawak cina ni…kalau nak tentang mereka melayu ditufuh melayu kuno..otak tak open la etc2….bodoh betul..kalau nak hujah..guna je isu sekolah cina tu pun dah memadai..tapi ape nak buat…mereka hanya pentingkan pujian dari kaum2 racist komunis ni je….

  12. I would like to quote some extracts from the Mufti of Perlis (http://drmaza.com/english_section/?p=51) in respect of the above caption which is most apt to my Muslim bloggers.

    “This period is like a season of ‘political fitnah’. The word fitnah is always translated by our Malay community as making untrue accusations. However, the word fitnah as it is being used by al-Quran and Sunnah does not imply such meaning.

    As for the words ‘a period of fitnah’, it means a period of tests and tribulations that can potentially disturb the Muslims’ faith and life’s serenity. It confuses people making it difficult for them to make their standpoints and to hold firmly to the correct principles due to the challenges, trials and pressures that exist during that period.

    Various kinds of talks are being heard everywhere. SMS’s are also flying around. All those are carrying many kinds of stories and some are humorous, some are full with anxiety and fear. It is very difficult to tell which news is genuine.”

    Insha’allah, I hope that all Muslim bloggers while in “the Court of Public Opinion” adhere to the advice of the said Mufti so as not to disturb the Muslim’s faith and life’s serenity.

  13. Big Guy,

    Jelas ini mengenai Raja Petra. Aku rasa dia ni sudah terlampau kurang ajar!

    Raja Petra ini memang seorang ANARCHIST!!!!

    Tidak menghormati sebarang undang undang, peraturan, protokol, etika dan proses norma kehidupan langsung!

    Dia main langgor saja dengan undang undang, peraturan dan tatacara sendiri dan ianya berubah ubah ikut selera dia, bila bila sempat aja!

    Lihat kes bagaimana dia bagi kerjasama apabila Polis memanggil untuk mengambil kenyataan Julai lepas. Lepas tu kes Tan Sri Dr. Nordin Kardi saman dia – buat tak peduli langsung! Tidak peduli untuk minta peguam wakili dalam mahkamah pun!!!!

    Kemudian kes terbaru ini!

    Boleh ka masyarakat kita, bergerak kalau ada manusia yang tidak langsung hormati sesiapa, apa apa atau sebarang undang undang/peraturan/protokol????

    Ini serupa binatang buas, dalam tak ubah tatacara “Law of the jungle”!!!!


  14. Big Dog,
    I do agree on your post to a certain extent.
    However, look at our MSM. The “Court of Public Opinion” rejected them in droves as proved during the GE.

    Most of us believe that we are being misled by the BN owned media. That is why people are looking into alternative news sources and the internet is the best option around.

    Until the MSM is fully independent, I believe that internet still plays an important role. (whether the facts are true or not, that is another matter. It’s up to the Court of Public Opinion to judge).


  15. Biggie,

    I agree with you totally…. Blogging must come with responsibility.

    It is unfortunate however that Malaysians have an overwhelming appetite for drama and conspiracy theories, and appetite which RPK detected and quickly exploited.

    In the Altantuya case for example, thanks to RPK and his ilk, most Malaysians take it as a truth that the DPM and his wife is somwhow involved. But when confronted directly, and on point to point, everyone admits that there is no evidence except the fact that Razak is a friend of DPM.

    They don’t know Razak, and don’t know his character
    They don’t know that the police officers are NOT the bodyguards of Najib
    They believe in a picture that doesn’t exist
    They believe in a one-liner of a mongolian witness who said she heard (it doesn’t get more “hearsay” than that!)the name “Najib Razak” mentioned by Altantuya. -Who is this witness? what is her track record?who paid for her expenses in Malaysia? Who has most to gain from Najib being smeared?… when you ask these questions of people who allege Najib’s involvement, they cannot answer.

    But they believe that he and/or his wife is involved. Why? Because of RPK and his pandering of lies and half-truths. And now he thumbs his nose up to the police, making himself out like a hero, after he was released following questioning in Bukit Aman. He mocks the police mercilessly, and fashions himself some kind of modern-day people’s martyr.

    I think enough is enough la. Like a previous commentator said: He is an ANARCHIST. RPK shouldn’t be above the law. He shouldn’t be allowed to say whatever he wants to say just because he has a following.

  16. RPK is pushing the authorities to the limit. By allowing and not being able to monitor extreme comments in his blog, he is advocating ararchy. There is a limit to one’s freedom. That is a fact. One’s freedom ends when one incites hatred and becomes seditious. It is incumbent on the authorities to act when that becomes the case. The government has been very lenient on certain bloggers and this has made some bloggers think they are heroes for talking about highly sensitive issues. It is time to return to earth. By being arrogant, RPK acts no better than the people he condems in the establishment. Now he wants us to defend him. Sorry old chap, you are a Malay Muslim who is the mouth-piece of the aliens, as shown in the program “Blog”. Turn to them for support, you have no sympathy from me.

    Slam the LAW on his face. Give him his day in court then send him to jail! At least he can’t claim to be detained without trial!

  17. […] Keyakinan baru ini mula menampakan kemampuan mereka yang mendukung ‘Ketuanan Rakyat’ dan ‘Malaysian Malaysia’ ini semakin berani dan angkuh, terutama mempersoalkan isu isu sensitif. Soal memomokan ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ tidak terbatas disitu sahaja. Malah, isu seperti pengunaan Bahasa Melayu dalam gereja dan persuratan ugama Kristian kini mula timbul. Mereka juga dengan lantang memperjuangkan hak orang Islam yang ingin murtad.  NGO juga makin pesat mengunakan platform ‘perbincangan intelektual’ untuk mengaburi usaha membawa Malaysia ke fenomena anarki. Ini semua dikaburi dengan ‘topeng’ nilai universal seperti hak asasi manusia dan pengenalan ‘Mahkamah Rakyat’, terutama melalui media. […]

  18. […] actually managed to stamp that thought in the mind of Malaysians, especially the urbanised and the more biased ‘civil libertarians’ amongst the educated and professional lot. In someways, it is part of the techno-cyber-anarchism […]

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