The Malaysian political class likes to promote itself as being moderate, tolerant and willing to open up "democratic space". The truth is not nearly so cosy. Authoritarian practices die hard. There is a report here at Malaysia Today, one of the few independent online sources of information, about the clampdown on dissident bloggers. It's a sorry catalogue: Mack Zulkifli's blog at Brand New Malaysian has come in for particular attention. Here's the account of the slightly surreal, low-key harrassment:
the two police officers and two unidenified government officials had asked him to help them "understand the latest development of weblogs". The blogger then spent the next three hours answering questions from the team about blogs and how their contents can be controlled.... he was also asked about his motivation for maintaining his site when he appeared to derive no income from it.Impeccable logic of the law enforcement boys. Ali Bukhari Amir has received similar treatment for his leftist blog as has the doyen of Malaysian bloggers, Jeff Ooi.
This does not yet amount to a full-scale assault by the state on the freedom of dissent. It's more insidious than that. But there is no doubt that the government is sending out a pre-emptive warning, paranoid about any criticism of its carefully-crafted self-image.