Yesterday, 60 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserted the individual's right to "receive and impart information and ideas through any media", some 150 Malaysian bloggers and friends got together at the Lake View Club, Subang Jaya in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day and May Day to discuss the role of blogging in Malaysia. The forum was also aimed at looking into the role bloggers can play in society. An impressive turnout of the national press corps and TV were there to cover the event.
Read the Malaysiakini and Star online reports, here and here.
The afternoon session, chaired by well known blogger Zorro with the theme 'Fostering a Civil Society' started off with speaker Rocky's Bru blogger Ahiruddin Atan, followed by former High Court judge Dato Syed Ahmad Idid (photo), University Malaya law lecturer Dr Azmi Sharom, Dr Lim Teck Ghee from the Centre for Policy Initiatives and MalaysiaVotes.com editor Jacqueline Ann Surin. Jeff Ooi of Screenshots took part in the conference via a pre-recorded video clip. Everyone agreed that the perception of bloggers in this country changed drastically after March 8 with the PM's acknowledgment that he had made a serious mistake by ignoring blogs critical of the government. Dato Syed Ahmad wistfully noted at the end of his speech that he may not have to quit his job after his whistle blowing act 12 years ago, had blogs existed then.
The evening session which was followed by a sumptuous buffer dinner, was moderated by organising chairman Desiderata Chong and discussed the topic "The Fifth Estate (Bloggers) as Agency for Change". The speakers were Selayang MP William Leong, Sun editor R Nadeswaran, human rights lawyer Haris Ibrahim of the People's Parliament and Malaysia-Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin. Raja Petra in particular, quoted media baron Rupert Murdoch as saying that "by 2030 there will be no newspapers as everything will be online. So The Sun, NST, Star and everything else are in a sunset industry!"
By any standards, the event was a huge success.
Update: As I write this, I just received an SMS from a friend that 6 policemen are now in Raja Petra's house to confiscate his PC and laptop in connection with the Altantuya murder case. He is believed to have been summoned to report for questioning at Bukit Aman tomorrow morning.