Update: Read also “Was there a coup on blogosphere?” by Politics101, Ideas Incredible’s post on the same issue “All-Blogs representing bloggers without a mandate?”, Arifadull’s “All-Blogs Hijacked – Part I“, his interesting analysis on “All-Blogs Hijacked Part 2” and Whatever’s “All-Blogs – United?“.
All-Blogs (National Alliance of Bloggers) visit to the Parti Keadilan Rakyat advisor’s office in Petaling Jaya has recently raised some blog brows. Bloggers kTemoc and Mahaguru have both come out with an impassioned plea asking All-Blogs to remain non-partisan. Although, how a visit to an Opposition figure’s party office – Anwar Ibrahim to be exact -could make people perceive All-Blogs as being partisan is beyond me.
When All-Blogs visited the BN candidate K Parthiban in Ijok (ignoring the Opposition candidate), and later blogged some positive things about his candidature, people also accused All-Blogs about being political. Which is why I’ll fuss little about this coz there are bigger issues here at stake, and which we should question as far as All-Blogs is concerned.
What is the role of All-Blogs
Several bloggers have approached me asking about what exactly is the role of All-Blogs. Yes, the official line is “All-Blogs aims to protect the rights of bloggers and promote blogging in a responsible manner. It also plans to register with the government, appoint a committee and impose membership fees,” said Rocky, All-Blogs pro-tem committee president over here.
“We also want to make contact with the authorities and engage them in discussions to raise the level of awareness about the positive and negative impacts of blogging,” Ahirudin said, underlining the non-confrontational nature of the alliance.
This is what makes bloggers out there wonder: should All-Blogs speak for all bloggers? Truth is, I know many bloggers, while supporting the unity of bloggers (as in the efforts by Bloggers United, a loose grouping of bloggers), do not want to “register with the government”. Some I know even refuse to be members of any blogger association, preferring to be free. They see the registration bit as the government’s strategy to control bloggers. Worse still, some bloggers see this as All-Blogs trying to impose their views and ideologies, political or otherwise, on others.
Therefore, I think it’s only right that All-Blogs speak for themselves, and their members only. All-Blogs should make this clear to all and sundry that All-Blogs do NOT mean All- Bloggers. That until their members are registered, they cannot claim to be speaking or representing all bloggers (for example, yours truly).
But who are the members of All-Blogs?
Ex-blogger Freelunch2020 aka Jed Yoong, who stopped blogging due to a political controversy, whom I shared my concerns with, had this to say about All-Blog’s membership:
“All Blogs must come clean that they HAVE no members, is an UNREGISTERED society with a pro-tem committee elected by about 40 bloggers (figure according to the STAR’s report), most of which appears to be pro-BN (Barisan Nasional), part of an anti-pak lah (Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi), pro-najib (Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak)/Tun Mahathir Mohammad (ex-Prime Minister) faction.
“Then we have the outliers, loose cannons. So if I was still blogging, I would like All-Blogs to change their name as it is a misnomer, to quote KTemoc,” said Jed.
She went further on to remark that “It’s misleading to say it represents bloggers in Malaysia and the new media movement which champions freedom of speech and media freedom as a pillar of a true democracy, although at the same time, as part of the Bloggers United movement, we support Rocky and Jeff in the lawsuits from NSTP as we feel it is an infringement on freedom of speech. But our support does not mean we are sympathetic to their personal political leanings”.
“Why are we blogging? To be part of some elitist social club or to express our views as citizens of a democratic nation?” she asked.
I agree with Jed. This is simply how some bloggers feel. Perception is everything. In fact, I had mentioned this at the All-Blogs meet in April, that the group must represent the interest of other bloggers.
It is quite clear now that some bloggers, yours truly included, fear that All-Blogs and its members will be used as a political lobby againt the current regime. Already we see manifestation of this in several blogs or bloggers who vehemently trashed others who go against their views, or who express views detrimental to their party interest. This phenomena exist on both sides of the political divide. But yours truly experienced it most of all from the pro-BN bloggers.
Meanwhile, in relation to all these, other questions arise, which were not made clear, before, after or during the formation of All-Blogs. For example, bloggers are still not clear as to how All-Blogs arrive at its pro-tem committee members list. The selection process was not transparent. There was not even a proper meeting, or an election process. It seems the names have been pre-determined. I hope someone clarifies this as I am not able to, because I arrived late at the National Press Club on April 5, when All-Blogs was set-up.
(Note: Before the usual suspects jump to conclusion and accuse me as being envious because I am not in the committee, let me say this loud and clear, that I am not interested in any position as far as All-Blogs is concerned, whether now or in the future).
Other questions for All-Blogs to consider include:
(2) Will All-blogs campaign for free speech? If yes, how? If no, why not?
(Updated: This is a relevant question for those who want to see All-Blogs take a more active role in championing freedom of speech, instead of just being a social club, yours truly included. Championing freedom of speech does not mean taking sides on party politics. This must be made clear. This question is relevant because the answer or the decision will affect some bloggers decision to be part of All-Blogs).
(3) This question is specifically for Rocky, who said in an interview with Malaysiakini on Press Freedom Day that some laws on press freedom need to be retained. “What do you mean by that, can you specify?”
(Updated: I am uneasy with this statement. I believe we have more than enough laws to curb press freedom, and the time now is to dismantle all laws. Like CIJ (Centre for Independent Journalism) executive director Sonia Randhawa said, in the same interview, “You either have freedom or you don’t“, as the PPPA and press freedom cannot exist side by side.
I have forwarded all these questions to Rocky, the president. Rocky has replied saying he will look into all these issues during the weekend. It would be really good to hear your views on this, Rocky.
But while, Rocky is doing this, All-Blogs must speed up with its Constitution now, and the least they can do is list down their potential members, so that we know, and the potential members know, that they are being represented by All-Blogs.
All-blogs cannot and must not speak for all bloggers, this much I am clear.
(Updated: But like Ktemoc says in the comment section, of which I totally agree, I wish All-Blogs well in their future endevours).