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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Friday, 25th January 2008:

Call on Prime Minister to clarify whether government scholars are monitored and penalized for blogging on critical socio-political issues

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should clarify whether government scholars are monitored and penalized for blogging on critical socio-political issues.

The government is doing the very opposite of what it has preached that it wants to create a new generation of Malaysians who are critical, creative and constructive, as it fettering the minds of the young when monitoring and penalizing government scholars who blog on critical socio-political issues.

This is another example that the Abdullah administration is not prepared to bring about the radical changes in government mindsets and mentality to move Malaysia from a “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” to a “First-World, First-World Mentality”.

Government monitoring and penalize scholar-bloggers came to light in a letter sent to my blog by a frustrated Public Service Department scholarship holder, viz:

“I am writing as a Malaysia JPA (Public Service Department) Scholarship holder (awarded in year 2006).

“I am 20 this year and I am currently pursuing my pre University studies in a local institution and according to my study plans, I am supposed to depart to an overseas country in September 2008. But, the problem is, I am also an Active Blogger on, touching mainly on socio-political issues.

“To be frank, I have been very much careful in my writings by not touching religions and names and by remaining neutral politically. Yet, my fear is imminent.

“My dilemma stems from a recent incident happened to one of my fellow scholar (of batch 2007) from my institution.

“She is a blogger herself, and apparently she went 'over-the-line' by attacking senior lecturers and institution administration on her blog.

“Consequently, her blog attracted attention from both students and administrators and the news went to as far as our sponsor, the JPA.

“She faced the institution's internal disciplinary hearing and was subsequently suspended by the institution late last year and currently, she is pending decisions from the JPA on whether she will continue her scholarship or face termination.

“I certainly do not agree on her writing style, but still I am appalled.

“This incident sparks a 'spree' of warnings given by intuition administrators to us, the students.

“Allegedly, some of my fellow bloggers-students (including some who are already being sent overseas) are being 'monitored' by JPA officers and institution administrators.

“Others, with tendency to blog explicitly on 'controversial issues' such as atheism and socio-politic issues, are forced to shut down their websites or delete some of their posts due to the personal fear of losing scholarships. I am one of them.

“The situation is even more frustrating as there are no official statements issued to scholars by the JPA regarding blogging.

“Meantime, our lecturers and administrators provide no help by spreading cloud of rumours and warnings to scholars in local intuitions.

“It is pathetic and sad.

“We are being drafted to be the creme-De-la-creme, the so-called future leaders of the country, and yet we are forcefully being silenced by our own government.

“We are angry to see each day in papers, that the scholarship that we are holding, are being abused by politicians to gain recognition and fame.

“Most of my fellow non-Malay scholars (supposedly all) gained our scholarships purely on meritorious basis and not by any political favours from any party.

“But it’s a shame that certain politicians treat us as political chess pawns as if we are in debt to them.

“Personally, I was invited by SOME party youth to participate some recent '9points event' as a 'government scholar' to share my 'experience'.

“Of course, I told him off.

“Forgive my arrogance but we, the 'bloggers-cum-scholars', are among the few enlightened youngsters of our country who happen to care about what is happening to our beloved nation, politically, socially and economically.

“And I strongly feel bound to voice out an opinion, a cry-out for awareness among youngsters, and a demand, for a little, if any, changes.

“Shamefully, I am heavily guarded by higher institution acts and constantly being threatened to keep quiet on political issues in campus or online by pointing a knife on our scholarships.

“For your information, most of us, the scholars, come from middle and lower class families, and we can never afford to lose our scholarships. Most of us thus, choose to comply or remain silent. It a pure tragic.

“I feel angry at myself for being a coward. Yet, I am studying in an environment full of hypocrisy and authoritative fear.”

* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


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