[And] shall I tell you upon whom it is that those evil spirits descend? They descend upon all self-deceivers who readily lend ear [to every falsehood], and most of whom lie to others as well.

And as for the poets – [they, too, are prone to deceive themselves: and so, only] those who are lost in grievous error would follow them. Art thou not aware that they roam confusedly through all the valleys [of words and thoughts], and that they [so often] say what they do not do [or feel]? 

ASH-SHU’ARA (221 – 226)





Citizen journalism is certainly on the rise if one counts the number of letters to the press and blog postings in cyberspace. Unlike the newspapers which edit input from the public, blogs are personal and allow the writers freedom of expression – the much touted ideal of human rights!


In the main, blogs represent different genres of writing from journals and personal jottings to political analyses and legal argumentations. As with books, blogs vary in  standard and substance. A lot depends on the linguistic skills of the writers and the particular thrust of the postings.


Political blogs get the most traffic even when they are badly written. Many of these bloggers choose to be critical and hard-hitting and therefore invite like provocative and controversial comments, chief among which are those based on slander, rumour and personal attacks. Not many offer rational analyses probably because more thought and effort is required.


Surfing blogosphere, one is shocked by the amount of frustration and anger at the perceived injustices and abuses of government and government related agencies. It is as though the BN government has done no right as the mudslinging is perpetuated by all and sundry, even those that have benefitted most from the national policies! Racial chauvinism is widespread and racism is on the rise as commenters mutually vent their rancour in the most destructive ways!


I shudder to think of what Malaysians have become! Is this what the toil and sweat of 50 years of nation building has created? Is this the first-class citizenry and thinkers that our education system has produced? Is this what freedom of speech is all about? The level of blog discussion is a microcosm of the level of thinking ordinary Malaysians are capable of!  And it is definitely not excellent!


As a recent blogger, I think carefully about the issues I wish to raise and how to articulate them in the most informed and constructive manner! Unfortunately, I don’t attract much traffic or many comments!











1 Response to “”

  1. 1 ninitalk
    April 30, 2009 at 4:21 am

    Of plogs and black swans
    Apr 17, 2009 11:41

    The Boleh Correct Blog
    Welcome to the Boleh Correct Blog. Here, we aspire to provide you with the correct information about what is going on in Bolehland. This is because there is a great deal of “incorrect” information on the Internet about Bolehlah. The Boleh Correct Blog aspires to correct many of those incorrect statements, half truths, and outright lies circulating in cyberspace.

    The Boleh Correct Blog, indeed, was set up to correct the balance of opinion in cyberspace so that it leans more toward what is correct, rather than what is incorrect. It is not correct, however, to say that this is what the bloggosphere and cyberspace are endeavoring to do when it comes to the imbalance of opinion in the Main Stream Media (MSM). This is because the Main Stream Media always prints what is correct, and the Bloggosphere insists on publishing what is not correct (if not blatant half lies)–when it comes to MSMS, there is no need to correct what is already correct. We must focus our attentions on what is NOT correct, namely the Bloggosphere.

    The Boleh Correct Blog is not sure quite how it will achieve this yet without resorting to measures that are the equivalent of using a hammer to crack a walnut. But rest assured, the Boleh Correct Blog will try. And as the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, then deny, deny, and maybe lie, lie, lie. This, of course, is NOT the strategy of the Boleh Correct Blog. We always use correct strategies and correct approaches when seeking to handle incorrect information.

    In our inaugural blog entry here on the Boleh Correct Blog, we want to touch on two points. First, whatever that is written in the political bloggosphere is never correct. It is always hearsay. It is always unproven. It is always without evidence. And most of the time it’s just opinion, hot air and the occasional pile of worthless intellectual muck from a bunch of incorrect people with incorrect morals and values and downright incorrect agendas. So readers should not assume that such blogs are correct by any means. At all times, it is best to assume they are incorrect, until they have been shown to be correct by MSM.

    Indeed, always assume that there is a vested political interest of an incorrect nature in all blogs.

    The second thing we want to emphasis is that Bolehland does allow for dissent and disagreement, but it must be correct dissent and correct disagreement, based on correct facts, and correct information, and evidence that is correct. When dissent and disagreement are incorrect, this leads to incorrect behavior, thinking and opinions. And that just leads to mass incorrectness. And we cannot have mass incorrectness.

    The Boleh Correct Blog–Always striving to correct, be correct, and never be corrected
    Okay, I woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning and decided to be frivolous. No, the Boleh Correct Blog does not exist, although there is a Boleh Blog (damn! the real Boleh Blog is not very political, nor does it seem to be very interesting, either).

    Ed has requested I write more about the state of the bloggosphere, so this will be the first in a series of articles on the Malaysian bloggosphere, to cover plogs (political blogs), flogs ( food blogs), and my new interest, pay-per-post in the Malaysian bloggosphere.

    So, we start with them plogs.

    Today’s entry was prompted by two recent entertaining entries I read in the Star: The first was an article quoting the new Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim. In the article, the Minister explained that the ministry plays an important role in establishing that only the “right kind of information” reaches the masses.

    The second was a letter posted by a blogger Halimah Mohd Said, which was printed in The Star’s letters section. Among the parts of her letter which caught my attention was her final paragraph: “As a recent blogger, I think carefully about the issues I wish to raise and how to articulate them in the most informed and constructive manner. Unfortunately, I don’t attract much traffic or many comments!”

    Since being appointed, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim has made a number of remarks about tackling “errant” bloggers. These range from getting the bloggers into a room for a seminar on Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act 1998, to using legal action against “hardcore perpetrators” and advising bloggers to stay away from “writing untruths and touching on personal matters”.

    When coupled with the recent spate of prosecutions against individuals for making remarks about the Sultan of Perak in a blog, the future of plogs (my term for political blogs) looks worryingly bleak. A chill is, indeed, sweeping over the ploggosphere.

    Even in writing this entry, I’ve been admittedly very cautious and careful. Although I strive to walk a balanced line between my opinion and libel, slander and everything else in between at all times, how does one guard against political offence? How does one write about what is going on without sounding like you’re either “writing untruths” (depends on what the truth is surely?), “twisting the truth” (also depends on what the truth is, right?) and “abusing the Internet” (again, that depends on what abuse means–surely a slow Internet connection by Streamyx does constitute abuse in a sense?)

    I enjoy reading some of the political blogs, but I don’t read all of them. Some of the political wags who are online could really do with a ghost blogger because they’re certifiably awful writers who use their blogs as nothing more than a cheap version of a PR firm. I also do not really bother to read the comments sections in most blogs, which frequently comprise vituperative rants or an endless stream of expletives–I get better-quality feedback at the corner coffeeshop or while taking a taxi ride. Occasionally, there is the odd witty Photoshopped image (what can we say? Malaysians are great satirists) in the comments section. But most of the time it’s just sentence in FULL CAPS expressing ire and frustration. But, equally, there are a growing number of bloggers who do write well and eloquently, as well as being insightful and well-reasoned in their arguments. Then there are the blogs that are just rumor-mongering machines–the best ones! (gutteruncensored, anyone?)

    Here’s my reasoning when it comes to why all these plots, warts and all, should be allowed. I am subject to appallingly overcorrect content in the mainstream media (or propaganda if we want to be mean). Surely I should be entitled then to appallingly incorrect content (okay, I’ll call it propaganda, too) in cyberspace? How else would political opinion equilibrium be established?

    The last survey that was done found that a miniscule 1 percent of blogs in Malaysia were plogs. The rest comprised more pedestrian content such as the national obsession with food and teenyboppers doing blatant pay-per-blog for GLCs like MAS (more on that in my next post). So do we really need to be coming down so hard on just 1 percent of the blogs–most of which hardly even get enough advertising to probably pay for a month’s worth of server space?

    The ploggosphere (political bloggosphere) as it exists now offers me variety. I have the tabloids (ahem, gutteruncensored, anybody?), I have the high-brow serious publications (Malik Imtiaz’s blog Disquiet, for example), and I have the blog equivalent of the Daily Mail which mixes rumor, scandal, analysis and serious news aggregation (Malaysia-today.com obviously comes to mind). What does the Mainstream Media offer me? The same, old boring kitty litter–even the political gossip is of very little “gossip” value.

    Which is why I couldn’t help but scoff when I read Halimah Mohd Said’s remark: “As a recent blogger, I think carefully about the issues I wish to raise and how to articulate them in the most informed and constructive manner. Unfortunately, I don’t attract much traffic or many comments!” my emphasis)

    In her letter, Halimah Mohd Said appears to be pondering why it is that blog readers don’t seem to want to read informed and constructive entries, and choose to read badly written blogs that are full of mudslinging and lack analysis. In between the lines, she appears to suggest that: “I write well and I write with reason–how come people are choosing to read crap instead?”

    For the same reason The Sun is the best selling newspaper in the UK. And yes, those Page 3s may have something to do with it.

    When the so-called informed and constructive do not attract readers, the question should be turned on its head: Maybe it’s not that your content lacks information or isn’t sufficiently constructive. Maybe it’s simply not very interesting, and perhaps involves a line of thought, or reasoning, or involves information or constructive ideas that have passed their time or are out of date, or out of lockstep with the predominant mentality of the broad stream of readers. Kennedy said it first: “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” And by that same token, nothing is as impotent as an idea whose time has past.

    The Internet is a great experiment in wild democracy and not the “guided democracy” variant that local Southeast Asian leaders like to espouse. And it is in many respects arguably a great avenue in which to observe the truism of ideals such as “the marketplace of ideas”. So when a blogger with informed and constructive writing fails to attract readers and comments (although the problem could just be an SEO issue), it could simply be because the ideas do not appeal to the marketplace.

    In the same vein, different strokes for different folks. If you don’t like a particular blog or dislike the way people express themselves in it, or if the mudslinging hurts your eyes, DON’T READ IT. Or start your own blog and put forth your own ideas. And if no one reads it, then they are just putting into practice the above: Which is that if they don’t like it, they don’t read it.

    (A note to the writer of the letter in case she does happen to read this: I tried Googling your name to find your blog. I failed. Might be the reason why not many people are reading it.)

    The ploggosphere is great because it allows for everyone to put forth their ideas and compete on the strength of those ideas. Maybe we just have to believe in the wisdom of crowds.

    If the Information, Communication and Culture Minister thinks he can exert control over the ploggosphere, I suggest he read Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book, The Black Swan. Because what has happened in the Malaysian bloggosphere in the last two years is arguably a Black Swan event. And what happens when people keep on insisting that Black Swans don’t exist?

    NINITALK talks back

    I’m flattered that you’ve chosen to highlight my letter to The Star (April 16). Perhaps this exposure will get me the traffic I’d like but don’t really care to court readership if it comes from disinterested parties!

    I had no problem at all googling “halimah mohd said blog” to get to your posting so do try again and if you fail please try ninitalk.wordpress.com

    I don’t know what you would classify as hip and trendy in terms of blog postings but I certainly do not want to be an old geek trying to be a young fart. And if people like you don’t think my postings are relevant so be it!

    And yes – like you I do consider myself a serious if not a good writer. Do read my postings and post your comments, brickbats and all!.

    And yes – I’m not cocky enough to think what I write is good or exclusive only for blogosphere or the MSM. I write for both in the same language and with the same care and concern !


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