From the Selangor Times 5 April 2013. Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered!
Dear Lord Bobo, I read that Free Malaysia Today (FMT) is being investigated by the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) because of an April Fool’s joke about Parliament being dissolved. Can ah? (Nobody’s Fool, via email)
Dear Nobody’s Fool, April Fool’s Day is celebrated in many countries by the pulling of pranks, dealing in dupes and jousting of jokes. It is harmless fun.
Those mindful of this auspicious occasion will be on constant alert for the more obvious tomfoolery like pointing somewhere and exclaiming with as much sincerity as can be mustered, “Hey look, at flying unicorn with a magical talking schlong!”
The point is that these tricks should be light hearted, funny and thoughtful (see previous example). And it is obvious that FMT has no clue know how to do Malaysian political funny. Hello? You do not joke about the dissolution of Parliament when the Prime Minister is in the middle of his vigorous pre General Election song and dance.
That’s like bombing a massive fart just as Rudolf Nureyev hits the apex of his leap, legs fully extended in opposite directions. Sure, it’s funny in a way, but come on man. It’s Nureyev. Take that fart elsewhere. Please.
So the “report” was not funny, even though any moron who read the article would know it was a joke right from the start. The author is “Loof Lirpa” (for the slightly challenged reader, slowly now, please read that backwards – ah, okay easy now big boy). And to remove all doubt, the article ends by saying: “Commenting on the unprecedented turn of events, FMT editor-in-chief K Kabilan said: “Sorry folks! This is an April Fool’s prank. We just could not resist.”
FMT are now reported to be investigated under section 233(1) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA). This provision says that anyone who uses a communication device, which includes telephones, computers, mobile phones, etc. to send someone something “obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass” can be slapped with a fine of up to RM50,000, jail for a maximum of one year, or both.
The italicized portion is cause for concern. The threshold to cause an offence is now shockingly low. If you are offensive or an annoyance with a communication device you get a summons. So if I send you an SMS that reads “Hey baby, fancy a purple banana for dessert?” to someone, I could get hit with a summons if you were a stranger instead of my best friend.
Needless to say, section 233(1) CMA makes a mockery of a Malaysian’s constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression. That we have such laws on the books should make us wonder who the bigger fools are.
Then again, this fundamental freedom has been derided, ignored, and mocked so often that it almost seems like the powers-that-be think it’s April Fool’s all year round.
Then again, reading that section of the CMA, does that mean that all these spam SMSes we’ve been receiving from our dear political leaders could potentially fall foul of the CMA? Some recipients find them offensive. And it doesn’t take much to realise that they are bloody annoying. Quick, someone call the MCMC!
Why is everyone so desperate for election to be called? Is there a lucky draw with big cash prizes or something? (Liquified, via email)
Well Liquified, since receiving your email, Parliament has in fact been dissolved, so the waiting is over!
Well, except for the waiting for the announcement of the actual election date, but that may well happen before this column goes to print.
But yes, there has been a rather unholy desperation for Parliament to be dissolved, particularly on social media. His Supreme Eminenceness doubts whether most of these desperate folk even knew about the process before this elections. With the array of information now easily available, we suppose people have much more to be emotional and impatient about.
Lord Bobo’s hope is that the concept of democracy will not be distorted to be too heavily focused on casting a vote every 4-5 years. As our loyal minions have been trying to educate people about for the past couple of years (through the most awesome blawg LoyarBurok, and our UndiMsia! campaign), democracy is about much more than voting. So much more.
Sadly, there is much work to be done by LoyarBurok and UndiMsia! yet. We need to ensure that post-elections, the winners are kept accountable throughout their tenure. Yes, throughout, not just in the lead-up to the next General Elections. Malaysians need to move away from the red-carpet, kow-tow, hand-kissing, arse-licking, VVVIP-ing of our elected representatives.
And our elected representatives need to be kept aware that they have a damned job to do, and that job isn’t asking the people to be grateful.
So yes, it is great that the elections are coming, but please remember that democracy does not start and end with the election process.
As for the cash prizes, weren’t they handed out prior to the announcement of the dissolution?
Have a question for Lord Bobo? Call on His Supreme Eminenceness by emailing [email protected], stating your full name, and a pseudonym (if you want), or tweeting your questions by mentioning @LoyarBurok and using the hashtag #asklordbobo. What the hell are you waiting for? Hear This, and Tremblingly Obey (although trembling is optional if you are somewhere very warm)! Liberavi Animam Meam! I Have Freed My Spirit!
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