Here’s my essay. Hope you guys will take some time off to read and comment on it. A warning though: it might suck, but then again its 4am and I’ve just completed it
Q: Discuss some issue of persona, local, national or international concern and its importance to you.
Tindakan ISA Untuk Pengendali Laman Web Bermain Api screamed the headlines of the Malay daily Berita Harian. I did not like sound of it, but if I thought that was bad, then the accompanying report disgusted me even more. It was another one of those defamation campaigns by the government and this time around, the unfortunate victim was one Jeff Ooi, an outspoken government critic who frequently makes his views known through his blog cum public forum at <a href=“http://www.jeffooi.com%5B/url%5D”>www.jeffooi.com</a>. To me, the fact that the infamous Internal Security Act or ISA was used once again as a tool of blackmail was outrageous; that it would be used based on an inaccurate and biased news report was proof of the totalitarian nature of the Malaysian government.
This was by far not the first case in which scare tactics and defamation through the media have been employed to intimidate critics of the government. People like Ooi have long been seen as troublemakers, and this latest media blitz was nothing but another campaign designed to discredit him in the eyes of the general public. His ability to communicate through the last bastion of free speech in Malaysia the internet made him an even bigger threat in a country where everything from the judiciary to the media comes under the iron grip of the government. This is in my opinion, where Malaysia fails in its role as democracy. The government here is more akin to a one-party dictatorship; a hegemony if you will, where a person is liable to punishment just because he or she happens to be on the wrong side of the fence.
For years, policies have been created to protect the power of the ruling government and draconian laws like the ISA have long been abused to jail political opponents without trial. Even institutions of higher learning, the supposed cradles of intellectual freedom and thought, are not spared. Under the Universities and University Colleges Act for example, students can be expelled for participation in any form of political activism a clear move to undermine any potential opposition to the government. Faculty members too at the mercy of such laws; professors who are found guilty of promoting freedom of thought are persecuted, their positions often filled by unqualified government yes-men who have since played significant roles in eroding the once admirable standard of Malaysian universities. One such victim, Dr Chandra Muzaffar, perhaps best summed up the dire situation in a comment he made not too long ago:
If this witch hunt continues, the consequences for the nation could be disastrous the government should stop its on-going witch hunt on dissident lecturers and students to avoid a numbing of intellectual freedom in universities…
He was right in saying that, for what is an education without the freedom to think? To quote author Ralph Waldo Emerson: for what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail? To be able to think and act without the threat of arrest would certainly make my college experience a complete one, and that is why I hope to study in America. Hopefully too, my experiences there will give me new ideas to unshackle my people, most of whom have only tasted the government’s brand of freedom their entire lives.