Malaysia cracks down on bloggers
The Malaysian government has warned it could use tough anti-terrorism laws against bloggers who insult Islam or the country’s king. The move comes as one of Malaysia’s leading online commentators has been questioned by police following a complaint by the main governing party. The new rules would allow a suspect to be detained indefinitely, without being charged or put on trial. But officials insist the law is not intended to strangle internet freedom. Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak told The Straits Times that the move was aimed at getting some moderation in postings on the internet, especially on sensitive issues: “Some people feel that they have crossed the line, in making racist remarks,” he said.
But the BBC’s Jonathan Kent in Kuala Lumpur says the government also appears increasingly concerned about the growing online criticism of its record. Raja Petra Kamarudin, the editor of one of Malaysia’s most popular political websites, Malaysia Today, turned himself in to police on Wednesday, to answer allegations that he had mocked Islam and threatened racial harmony. Raja Petra is known for his frequent criticism of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and other government figures.
“I was alleged to have insulted the king, and also Islam and incite racial hatred, so I am going in there to reply to all these charges. I promise I’m going to give them a hell of a tough time,” he told the BBC before he turned himself in.
He defended his website, saying: “Many people, especially the non-Malays in this country, do not have a forum to air their views.” “We should not deny these people a chance to vent their feelings,” he said. Malaysia Today is believed to attract around a quarter of a million visitors a day, giving it more readers than most Malaysian newspapers. The BBC’s correspondent says that with a general election on the horizon, the government seems keen to send a signal to its online critics that it will only tolerate so much.
Indonesia Media Notes
In a recent meeting with the largest VCD/DVD distributor in Indonesia (they handle Sony, Paramount, Dreamworks, MGM and Discovery and have 90 wholly owned stores Indonesia wide) we discussed how the business works. They release 30-40 new titles per month and expect to sell 15-20,000 copies over six months. Their top sellers will sell no more than 40,000 over three years. At some point, these DVDs are duplicated and enter into the pirate market that is estimated to have a 12-15% market “share”. Tarra distributes a number of religious programs, including MATTHEW and ACTS (selling more than 12,000 each over three years), the “Morman Puzzle”, three Grizzly Adams programs, the “Da Vinci Deception”, “Was Mary Magdalene a Saint or Sinner?”, “Did Jesus Walk the Earth”; and the Illustra Media programs, “The Privileged Planet” and “Unlocking the Mysteries of Life”.
This company, the Tarra Group, concentrates on providing product to the B & C demograpic category. This group would have a household income of $500 to $1500 per month – the difference being the Cs would be employed, while the Bs would own their own business. The B category rents more DVDs than they purchase. The D category would be the poor. In the city they would be moto taxi drivers or drive the little 3 wheel Bahaj taxis for example. There would earn under $100 per month.
An interesting phenomen is the rise of original productions here in Indonesia. This is happening because the digital era has significantly reduced the cost of equipment and the rise of the independent producers has happened here as well as elsewhere in the region. These Indonesian language programs are never pirated! Only original disks are available and in most cases they are more expensive.