Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bersih 2.0 article on "The Economist" censored

I discussed about the recent Bersih 2.0 rally for free and fair elections with my university lecturer. When I returned and read Malaysia Today, I was surprised to read about censorship of "Taken to the cleaners" article on July 16th-21st issue of The Economist.

In the print edition of the magazine, heavy black permanent marker ink was applied by the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs to censor part of the article reporting on the Bersih 2.0 rally on 9th of July in Kuala Lumpur.

Readers were not permitted to read that:
  • One man died of heart attack
  • The march was declared illegal, a stadium was offered as venue but later withdrawn
  • Heavy handed approach by the police provoked anger
  • An inquiry into police brutality was concealed by the government
  • Video showing tear gas and water cannon at Tung Shin maternity hospital

An online version of the article is available intact on The Economist website.

I reproduced the full article with censored portion coloured red:
Political affray in Malaysia
Taken to the cleaners
An overzealous government response to an opposition rally
Jul 14th 2011 | SINGAPORE | from the print edition

MALAYSIA is one of South-East Asia’s stabler nations; but a rally in Kuala Lumpur on July 9th in demand of electoral reform turned surprisingly nasty, leading to the arrest of more than 1,600 people. The police fired tear gas and water cannon into the crowd, and one man died of a heart attack. All those arrested were released fairly quickly, but Amnesty International, a London-based human-rights group, called it “the worst campaign of repression in the country for years”. The government’s reaction showed a lot of nervousness about how much opposition it can tolerate.

In fact the crackdown started a few weeks ago after “Bersih 2.0” announced that it was going to stage the rally. Bersih, also known as The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, is a loose alliance of NGOs and activists (bersih means “clean”). It argues that all candidates should be given access to the mainstream media and that indelible ink should be used to stop people voting more than once. It all sounds uncontroversial, but not to the government. Bersih was declared illegal on July 1st and about 200 activists were rounded up. The march itself was then banned, although the authorities offered Bersih a stadium to meet in—and then withdrew the offer.

Perhaps the government was looking back nervously to the first Bersih march, in 2007. On that occasion, too, thousands protested against the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition government and demanded reform. Subsequently, in the 2008 general election, the BN lost its largest share of votes since 1957 when it started ruling the country after the British left. The current prime minister, Najib Razak, deputy prime minister in 2007 before taking over the top job in an internal party coup, must have feared that the second Bersih rally might be a similar portent. He has to hold an election before 2013, but wants to do so earlier to win his own mandate. Opposition politicians were quick to join Bersih. The pre-eminent leader of the opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, was shoved to the ground and injured in the affray.

None of this bodes well for Malaysia. The heavy-handed police tactics have provoked a lot of anger; the government has conceded an official investigation into claims of police brutality. In one instance (caught on film), police seemed to fire tear gas and water cannon into a hospital where protesters were sheltering from a baton charge. Few old laws were left untouched in the attempt to round up suspects before the march. It was reported that 30 people arrested in Penang were investigated under Section 122 of the Penal Code for the charge of waging war against the king. Dragging in the constitutional monarch, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, seemed particularly desperate, reminiscent of the abuse of the monarchy’s position in neighbouring Thailand. On the eve of the rally, the king came out with a statement reminding everyone that “street demonstrations bring more bad than good, although the original intention is good.”

Mr Najib defended the police and accused the marchers of sowing chaos. Dismissing the motives of Bersih, he cast it as a desperate attempt by Mr Anwar to grab power. The immediate upshot is that Mr Najib may choose to delay calling for an election for some time, to let things settle down. He presumably hopes that if he waits long enough, people will have forgotten about this ugly incident. But the longer-term effects are hard to judge. It might also help to unite a fractious opposition against what they portray as an assault on democracy.

I don't understand why Ministry of Home Affairs, Malaysia would take such measures providing that the original material is available on the Internet in full? This is really a 1980-ish mentality in the Information Age of 21st century. What's more, information censored from the article are well known by well connected Malaysians. Maybe they want to prevent kampung people from reading the article? I wonder which people from small town will ever pick a copy of such magazine...

This is not the first time censorship of the magazine is happening in Malaysia. According to The Economist, Malaysia often censor articles deemed to offend Muslims. This time the censorship drew attention due to high impact of the Bersih 2.0 rally. The weekly has ranked Malaysia as the third country that practices censorship most, below India and China.

Additional links:
Censored: KDN blacks out the Economist - uppercaise
‘Economist’ report on Bersih rally ‘censored’ - Lim Kit Siang
Home Ministry censors Bersih article in The Economist - The Malaysian Insider
Censored: Magazine’s story on July 9 rally - Free Malaysia Today
Blacked out - Where The Economist is censored - The Economist


  1. nice one... came across this one wen i'm doing a small research on Bersih 2.0 and post effect of the rally. thank you very much for uploading a good document.


    Dengan berhormati penganut ke dalam Dhamma,

    Sebelum saya memulakan penulisan surat saya ke arah anda semua, saya ingin memaklumkan anda semua bahawa saya tidak berpuas hati dengan peguam Dato YIP KUM FOOK Pengerusi MCA Bahagian Gombak kerana tanggapan menyemangati buruknya kerana dia menghantar inspektor untuk datang ke PERSATUAN PENGANUT BUDDHA SAMNAK SAMBODHI NO: 19-21 JALAN 38 TAMAN DESA JAYA KEPONG 52100 KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA untuk menangkap saya tanpa apa-apa sebab yang baik, tambahan pula, peguam YIP KUM FOOK tidak berpuas hati dengan Ketua Sami.

    Apabila Ketua Sami terpaksa saya pergi ke Kuil beliau sudah dan dia pergi dan membiarkan Aku sendirian untuk menjaga sehingga Ketua Sami kembali kepada Kuil dan dia juga memberitahu saya supaya tidak meninggalkan Kuil jika mana-mana jawatankuasa atau pengerusi mahu menghalau saya keluar, anda tidak meninggalkan Kuil di semua faham? Lalu saya berkata, mengapa? Kepada ketua Sami! Pada hari kedua, YIP KUM FOOK (MCA Lelaki) datang ke Kuil kami dan bercakap dengan saya. Dia letih untuk membuat siasatan beberapa daripada saya dan dia bertanya kepada saya, di mana saya datang dari? Saya memberitahu beliau bahawa saya datang dari Pulau Pinang.

    Kemudian, saya memberitahu kepada peguam YIP KUM FOOK (MCA Lelaki) bahawa Ketua Sami datang ke Pulau Pinang dan menjemput saya dan menjemput saya untuk menemaninya untuk pergi ke kuil di Kuala Lumpur. Saya tidak sedar bahawa YIP KUM FOOK Pengerusi MCA Bahagian Gombak tidak berbaik-baik dengan Ketua Sami, Ketua Sami sudah dengan cara ini, YIP KUM FOOK cuba untuk mencipta masalah dengan saya yang tidak perlu.

    Itulah sebabnya, peguam YIP KUM FOOK mahu untuk menghalau saya keluar dari Kuil. Kemudian saya bertanya kepada peguam, kenapa anda mahu untuk menghalau saya keluar dari Kuil? Selain itu, Kuil yang bukan kepunyaan anda, MEMAHAMI? Kemudian, saya bertanya kepadanya, yang anda? Saya tidak tahu anda semua, anda tidak mempunyai hak untuk menghalau saya atau mengawal saya pada semua, MEMAHAMI? Anda adalah sama seperti orang biasa sahaja. Adakah anda tahu peraturan-peraturan bahawa mana-mana pengerusi atau jawatankuasa tidak dapat mengawal Sami-Sami dan biarawati(Nuns) sama sekali, juga MEMAHAMI?

    Saya memarahi dia seperti itu. Kemudian peguam (YIP KUM FOOK, MCA Lelaki) tidak berpuas hati dengan saya dan dia memberitahu saya bahawa dia akan dipanggil polis untuk datang ke Kuil dan menangkap saya. Saya beritahu dia pergi ke depan dan dipanggil polis untuk datang dan menangkap saya. Saya tidak akan melarikan diri, saya berkata kepadanya seperti itu. Saya telah melakukan apa-apa salah ke arah anda, kenapa anda mahu untuk menangkap saya? Beliau berkata, dia tidak suka saya tinggal di sini. Saya bertanya kepadanya, mengapa? Sekali lagi. Selepas ini beliau menjadi amat marah dengan saya, maka dia menelefon kepada polis dan polis datang ke Kuil dan memberitahu saya untuk meninggalkan Kuil.
    Saya memberitahu kepada pemeriksa itu sekali lagi, saya maaf, saya tidak akan meninggalkan Kuil kerana Ketua Sami telah mengarahkan saya supaya tidak meninggalkan Kuil tanpa persetujuannya, FAHAM? Kemudian inspektor itu memberitahu saya untuk meninggalkan, sekali lagi. Saya memberitahunya saya tidak boleh meninggalkan Kuil kerana Ketua Sami tidak kembali lagi. Masa ini, inspektor itu menjadi amat marah dengan saya dan dia telah mengambil gari dan cuba untuk mengugut saya, maka saya segera menunjuk-nunjuk tangan saya untuk beliau untuk mengunci saya tetapi dia menakutkan, maka sekali lagi, inspektor itu memberitahu saya meninggalkan Kuil sekali lagi tetapi saya masih tidak mahu meninggalkan Kuil.

  3. Kemudian saya telefon kepada Ketua Sami lagi dan aku memberitahunya bahawa pemeriksa berkeras mahu menangkap saya, lebih baik anda datang kembali untuk menyelesaikan kes itu bagi saya. Selepas peristiwa ini, Ketua Sami datang kembali kepada Kuil dan membawa saya untuk pergi ke kuil lain dan penginapan mereka. Itu semua tentang kejadian ini! Akhir sekali, saya ingin memaklumkan kepada anda semua, bahawa tiada jawatankuasa atau pengerusi boleh mengawal semua Sami-Sami dan biarawati di semua juga MEMAHAMI? "Mereka adalah lebih tinggi daripada Raja," juga! Jadi bagaimana orang biasa, jawatankuasa dan pengerusi untuk mengawal mereka:- WALAUPUN RAJA YANG JUGA DISEGANI SAMI-SAMI DAN BIARAWATI(Nuns). Kenapa pengerusi Kuil tidak menghormati Sami-Sami dan Biarawati? Mereka akan membawa dosa-dosa kemudian, FAHAM?

    Anda Dhamma,

    Ven. Piya Phra Dhammo.
    Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.

    Kita menterjemahkan Bahasa Bahasa Inggeris ke Bahasa Malaysia (sebab!) kerana kita mahu memberi semua orang tahu dan memahami terperinci maklumat mengenai, juga untuk memberi orang ramai mengetahui perkara ini (SEJARAH), ini bukan untuk menyerang individu DATUK YIP KUM FOOK, sila klik di sini untuk melihat: - http://margeemar.blogspot.com/2012/02/blog-post.html?commentPage=3