23
Nov
12

OVER & OUT

 

REBUTTING DIN MERICAN AND HIS BAND

On 14 October, the same day that my article “Who is to blame for graft” was published in The Sun, blogger Din Merican pasted it in his blog with my picture downloaded from elsewhere. He also saw it fit to tag information about the two public positions I hold, presumably to flavour my articulations as a citizen journalist in the column THIS N THAT.

The posting invited comments from netizens, the hollowest among them using pseudonyms such as Mr Bean, Lok1, Vic and Kathy to hide their true identity. Being anonymous they were free to discredit and slander me without understanding the thrust of my arguments. Thus some key points made in the article such as “The answers to the question of who is to blame and who is responsible in the war against corruption must be prioritised lest it be turned into another vicious circle of finger-pointing. The “big fish” who take huge bites of the bribery bait must be as relentlessly pursued as the little ones enjoying the smaller bites. The abuse of power by officials of the government and business houses/ corporations they do business with at the expense of public interest must be seen as societal corruption of the highest order” were ignored. Instead, isolated lines and phrases were taken out of context and nitpicked.

A few of the commenters seemed more intent on hurling unfounded personal attacks than understanding the arguments I presented. As is their usual modus operandi, Din Merican and his supporters took the opportunity to hit out at the government and its agencies for not doing enough to fight corruption. To be fair, there were several good insights and suggestions which deserve a hearing from the authorities.

As I had been publicly vilified in cyberspace it was appropriate for me to make my rebuttal there, and here I quote an extract  “Let me state categorically that I’m not defending corruption and those of you who think I am have misunderstood my intentions in the article. In writing my column (fortnightly in The Sun) I represent my personal analysis of socio-cultural matters and try to understand why certain phenomena exist, and what might be the underlying causes. Except for my own field of academic expertise – language and linguistics – I’m a layman like most of you. I uphold the principle that if I do not have expert or informed knowledge I will not point fingers or make wild accusations about this and that. If I have information, I will report it to the highest authority for the matter to be investigated. I take my official appointments seriously and make my views known in the relevant quarters without fear or favour. I’m not free to divulge official/ confidential matters on your blog Din Merican, or any other public space”

I have also taken Din Merican to task for not moderating/ managing his blog more responsibly. For blogging enthusiasts like him, cutting and pasting other people’s writings is much easier and safer than articulating their own ideas. This way they avoid the personal attacks they happily open other people to. In the name of freedom of speech and in the bid to be popular they approve obscenities and vulgarities.  As a blogger myself, I make it a point to address each query or comment however much it goes against the grain of my own thinking. I invite informed and constructive discourse and encourage my commenters to expand their own articulations. Fortunately, I’ve been spared the slander and insults that other bloggers allow with impunity.

On a more positive note, I’ve invited Din Merican and his band of commenters to come out in the open and form a Citizen Squad to fight corruption. With their professed abhorrence of corruption among the “big fish” and their brilliant suggestions on how to effectively eradicate the scourge, they can be the vanguards in the anti-corruption war. One important area that needs greater citizen involvement is creating awareness and educating the grass roots on the pitfalls of giving and accepting bribes – an area ill-understood by all and sundry or if understood at all, it is relegated to the backwaters of the Malaysian value system.

In order to have a credible public front and a wider outreach, I have urged Din Merican to register the Association of People Against Corruption with the Registrar of Societies. Being an official entity would allow the group to be definitive not only in its mission and objectives but also in its programmes and activities. You alone will decide on the kind of impact you wish to have on the community, and the community will in turn assess the efficacy of your organisation.

Once the credibility and integrity of your organisation is established, doors will be open to invite  greater  participation and engagement with the relevant parties.

 

 

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1 Response to “OVER & OUT”


  1. November 24, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Napoleon is reputed to have once said to one of his generals “never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake”.

    When attacks become personal they have legitimcay only where the respondent is responding to a personal attack against himself. In this case, from what you have written in response to what Din Merican has allowed others through his blog to publish, unless Din Merican and those others who have used his blog to attack you personally in whatever form are themselves engaged in the practice of corruption or tainted by it, they have no legitimacy whatsoever to attack you as the writer of your article on the subject.

    In allowing such personal attacks against you as writer, they have necessarily drawn attention to themselves (a guilty conscience pricks the mind) for further investigation and inquiry by the public. What is it about the subject of defeating corruption and graft that offends these people?

    Argument on the subject of corruption is often deflected and frustrated by members of the opposition and by the commercial classes in society because in a country like Malaysia, corruption does not discriminate. All races are equal and therefore each of these races have something worth defending. Sad is it not that corruption and graft remain one of the few institutions and practices that bind us all.


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