Part of the Do'a Iftitah

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

UiTM's CMIWS National Seminar on Bloggers -Issues and Challenges of the 21st Century

Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

The Centre for Media and Information Warfare Studies @ CMIWS of the Faculty of Mass Communications and Media Studies of the Universiti Teknologi MARA invited me to participate in the very first National Seminar of Media and Technology with the topic of 'Bloggers - Issues and Challenges of the 21st Century' on Tuesday 24th July, 2007 at the Concorde Hotel in Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan.

They sent me the invitation last month and I attended it yesterday. It was a whole day session and as expected, I got caught in the traffic snarl crawling all the way from after Angkasapuri right till I reached Shah Alam.

Gosh, it sure must drive those who commute between KL and Shah Alam daily to and fro from work nuts!

No wonder KLites get heart attacks and so worked up almost everyday! Sheesh! Talk about the pressures of going through traffic jams day in, day out! Can drive one to an early grave!

Anyway, I managed to register myself at 0930 hours , half an hour late due to unavoidable circumstances.

I met Datuk Kadir Jasin, the Editor of Berita Harian, who is himself a fellow Blogger and I believe to be the first Malaysian Blogger to have his 'blook' published!

One of my comments to his blog was also featured in it, prompting many to call me up from my contact number published in his book. We exchanged pleasantries and I took the opportunity to pose for a snapshot with him, shown below.

He was quite amiable and not a proud man. Good for him to be that way. May Allah SWT bless him. Ameen.

I was given my seminar door gift @ a very nice notebook bag and other seminar materials and ushered to my seat just behind fellow Blogger Zaharin Mohd Yassin @ Sang Kelembai, who was among the panelists.

The seminar was officiated by the Vice Chancellor of UiTM, Professor Dato Seri Ibrahim Abu Shah, who spoke about the important role that Bloggers today play in the field of media and communications.

Amongst the many things he spoke upon was the need for Bloggers to be responsible over what they post or allow to be in their blogs. Cases in relations to bloggers was touched by the Vice Chancellor who even cracked a few jokes at his own expense.

Who said academicians can't be funny?

Hehehehehe...he even shared with the audience how a student's blog comment calling him a 'fat pirate' drove him to go on a crash diet just to prove the student wrong and managed to slim down a bit after he took it as a challenge against himself!

Well, to cut it short, this goes to prove that blogs affect everybody , even those staid and serious academics like Professor Ibrahim! Blogs are here to stay and the masses have to keep updated and informed about blogs if they want to be on par with the rest of the world.

Sang Kelembai stole the show with his witty comments and lambasting PM Abdullah Badawi with his constant jibes against Pak Lah who sacked him from UMNO for the way he blogs against the Premier.

Zahrin is infamous for being sacked twice in UMNO. He still defiantly bamboozles Abdullah Badawi and I believe will do so as long as he lives.

When I left the seminar, Zahrin was talking to the Johor Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Ghani and one of Malaysia's billionaires, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al Bukhary , whom I greeted and complimented on building a fine mosque at Jalan Hang Tuah. He was happy to hear that and asked me to stop by at the mosque often. Insya Allah, I will.

Dato Seri Ghani Othman, the Johor State Chief Minister, was courteous as well but I didn't stay long to chat with them as I had to make my way through the after office rush hour traffic to fetch my missus from work.

This is Datuk Kadir A Jasin speaking about the transition he made from active journalism when he retired, to now being a blogger.

He declares his blog to be the most boring blog in Malaysia compared to all the technological gizmos and gadgetry in many of this nation's young bloggers space.

He referred to himself as a 'goblog' with the emphasis on the sound 'k'.

I have it all in tape. :P

His gist of presentation was that Bloggers are here to stay but they also ought to moderate their blog comments section so as not to allow unsolicited problems from those anonymous and crude commenter's who stir trouble by malicious and unwarranted statements that goes against the civil decorum of public discussion and debates over anything especially where it involves sensitive matters such as what we all know is discouraged and unlawful in this nation.

Things such as Malay Sultans and Malay rights, Religious Sensitivities, Racial matters, etc.

He also agreed with me that he too got upset when his articles were also subject to the foul speech and comments in Malaysia Today when Raja Petra Kamaruddin republished his articles in the alternative news web portal but left unmoderated the vicious and irresponsible manners by which most of the anonymous spineless cowards in MT ( I would pretty much like to use the b!@#$%ds word but its not to my taste) spewed forth their verbal swill online in response to such republishing of our postings by RPK without our knowledge back then.

RPK has stopped doing that after I called him up and requested him not to do that anymore.

Thanks for your sparing me the heartaches RPK!

This is Steven Gan, Editor in Chief of Malaysiakini, speaking about how Bloggers have come to be a new kind of journalists @ citizen journalists, who despite being thought of as a new threat to the mainline journalists, actually complement the media world with their active blogging.

Steven spoke at length of how his Malaysiakini came to be what it is today because he wanted to cut through all the editorial firewall in the mainstream media and establish a common platform for all Malaysian citizens to be able to discuss and debate about things that are considered taboo all these while in Malaysia.

We all know how Malaysiakini got raided by the Cyber Crimes Division before and how to this day, they aren't exactly free to post as they please.

Accountability. That's the key word for anyone who writes anything online meant for public readership.

I for one do stand by this requirement as posting something that's a clear fabrication will not only destroy any iota of credibility that one has but also open up oneself to legal action by those whom one has wronged!

I try my best to be as factual as I can be in my posts. Insya Allah.

The morning session of the seminar was chaired by Associate Professor in Journalism, Dr.Faridah Ibrahim, Chair of the School of Media & Communication Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor.

A fellow Penangite from Glugor and ex student of Jelutong Secondary School, next to my primary school, Jelutong English School at School Lane, Jelutong, Penang, our hometown. Prof Faridah was a pleasant person to be with. We sat at the same round table during lunch and exchanged contact details. Nice person.

The afternoon panelists. Except for Sang Kelembai, the other speakers were all Professors and academicians.

Rocky Bru didn't turn up leaving only our man in red , the only blogger to field his working paper to the remaining seminar audience and steal the show, so to speak!

His constant UMNO bashing so riled up a journalist by the name of Ismail that the journo took Zahrin to task during question time and accused him of being one who didn't protest against UMNO when he was in the party but after being sacked becomes the vociferous critic of the government especially of PM Abdullah Badawi and there was the usage of the word 'Blogger Sampah' in Ismail's outburst!

Zahrin responded to the question by saying that he has been criticizing the party leadership well before Pak Lah's time and that his postings are backed by proofs.

Proofs as his saying that the PM wears adult diapers as he posted in his blog before. Zahrin asked the journalist to go check with the doctors as to whether his allegations are true or false? Things were getting pretty hot as a result of this verbal warfare between the two and the seasoned ex-UMNO politician was at his best in refuting and parrying with his questioner.

Zahrin also explained that that's the way that he writes. Each blogger has his own unique identity and manner of writing!

It's stupid to think that when one wants to take to task or counter attack any of one's political opponents or enemies to go about it in a 'polite way'! Hell hath no fury as a Blogger scorned!!!

'Excuse me! I want to kick your ass! Please watch out for my foot!' etcetera!!!

Sang Kelembai was in his element and the man in red never failed to drag poor old me in his statements!

Mahaguru this , Mahaguru that! Sheesh!!! I was getting highlighted every now and then by Sang Kelembai.

Hahahahaha! Thanks for the spotlight bro! Burnt me to my color ! Hehehehehe..Sweet brown. :P

He had his points though. Each blogger has his own way of expressing. If just because he's no longer in UMNO, does that mean he has to change his ways in blogging?

He got kicked out of UMNO because of his attacks against Abdullah Badawi now and Mahathir before!

Why the hell should he change his style just to placate others? Humbug is what he replied to journalist Ismail in the context of his rebuking the clearly UMNO diehard supporter!

Zahrin referred to me saying would I be who I am now if I change the way I blog? He also pointed out to Tian Chua and asked the same? We are all our own individual bloggers!

Hehehehehe...Phew!!! stuff baby! :P You folks should have been there!

Next at the mike was a fellow blogger by the name of Julian Hopkins, a lecturer at Monash University.

Have to listen to the tape again to recall what Julian said but it was nice to meet him in person. Julian and me have linked to each other's blog before and to finally meet each other was a good thing.

This is a view of the seminar scene.

Save for myself, Julian, Ujie, Ismail, a few UiTM students, etc, the participants were mostly not daring enough to come up to the microphone and ask questions or share their thoughts with the seminar participants.

Maybe, an underlying fear of repercussions should they be vocal as fellow blogger Rauff who tells me that it was him who called the UiTM VC a fat pirate and got kicked out from the university as a result!

Wallahu Alam whether this is the true situation still prevailing in our nation's universities?

Tian Chua and Ginie Lim of the PKR were there but merely as observers.

I took the opportunity to highlight his presence amongst us during question time when I commented on Ismail the journalist's statement to Zahrin about the existence of certain bloggers whom he referred to as 'trash bloggers'!

I told Ismail that we who dared to put up our true identities and faces are the true bloggers and who have the courage to stand behind what we say or post in our blogs!

If he wants to refer to anyone as 'trash bloggers' , then by all means please refer to the ones who are anonymous commenter's and bloggers who hide behind a pseudonym and hurl barbs and snipe at people without a sense of responsibility or accountability!

Those are the ones who are trashtalkers and spineless nincompoops of the Blogosphere!

These are the ones who want everyone to give them free unlimited access to come into anyone's blog or website and shit all over the place as they please!

Now, these are the ones whom journalist Ismail should focus on and take to task! But as we all know, Zahrin has been a bloody thorn in UMNO's backside and thus the onslaught against him by one of UMNO's diehard supporters, if I may assume so?

Journalists aren't all picture perfect themselves, are they?
They write bullshit at times too and when corrected, some do not even have the courtesy or the moral fibre to rectify their mistakes! I read recently about Howsy referring to some journalists as 3rd rate bloggers!

So, to say that to Zahrin was uncalled for and he should accord to Zahrin his freedom to criticize the nation's leaders if he has reasonable grounds and cause to do so!

Today's papers are full of reference to Bloggers and threats to muzzle them down!

I asked in the seminar 'as to what this government exactly want?'

Does this government want a nation of oppressed and depressed people or a vibrant free rational , reasonable populace of responsible citizens who are bloggers amongst them, writing without fear or favor and providing valuable feedback straight to the top leaders of this country as to what's taking place at the grassroots level, free from media manipulation or distorted info by any elements who have vested interests?

That sums up the events that i can recall offhand that took place yesterday. I wish to get a copy of the video recordings of the seminar for my records and reference.

Need to contact the organizers about that. Well, that's it for now. Have a nice day!

Wabillahi Taufeek Wal Hidayah. Wassalamualaikum Warahmatullah!