A dangerous precedent has happened in Malaysia: A pro-government mainstream media, and individuals in senior positions with the newspaper, had mobilised the company’s corporate resources to sue individual bloggers!

The first two targets are bloggers Jeff Ooi (www.jeffooi.com) and Ahirudin Attan (www.rockybru.blogspot.com); and the plaintiffs are The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad, its deputy chairman Kalimullah bin Masheerul Hassan, Group Editor-in-Chief Hishamudin bin Aun, CEO Syed Feisal bin Syed Albar, and former employee Brenden John a/l John Pereira.

The intention of The NST, according to theSun newspaper, is to “promote responsible blogs”. Wire agencies (choose: Associated Press or Reuters) have disclosed that the source that theSun used to portray The NST’s position is none other than the plaintiff, Kalimullah Hassan.

And to prove the case, The NST decided to invite the Court to define the opinion space, now with the power paradigm changed due to the Internet, by suing the blogging individuals for defamation.

It’s a big irony because both parties — the plaintiffs and the defendants — are each using the opinion space to define the Freedom of Speech in this Internet Age, and yet, the journalists are now using corporate resources to sue the individual blogs in their pretext to seek redress for their griefs and their grievances, and more outrageously, to “promote responsible blogs” instead of promoting “responsible journalism” in Malaysia.

The law is clear in enabling any party who wants to seek legal redress by moving the court to listen to arguments posed by the plaintiffs and the defendants in any court case, and avenues are open from the lowest to the highest court before a final verdict is arrived at.

However, it’s evidently not a levelled playing field in this case of NSTP et. al VS The Bloggers.

Bloggers can’t make money by blogging but newspapers, especially the ones listed on the Malaysian Bourse, can wax their financial muscles to muzzle the bloggers. This is a battle between the David(s) and the Goliath.

Today, it may be just Jeff and Rocky. But there’s no guarantee that you won’t be the next.

This blog is set up to raise your awareness about the fight: Freedom of Expression comes with a price. You are the Goliath when you have the luxury to sue bloggers using a corporate organisation’s financial resources.

We mustn’t allow the mainstream media to wax their financial muscles to muzzle the bloggers. We mustn’t let the newspaper use the Court to define the opinion space in the Internet Age. The power to define the opinion space should be the Internet-empowered populace. They deserve the right to information that defines the country.

WALK WITH US. Get the story out.

wwu-walkwithus1930.jpg

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win… Mahatma Ghandi

WHO WE ARE.

The name of this blog is taken from a 2006 entry by Jeff Ooi, entitled: Walk With Us. He has premonition of sorts as attacks on bloggers have begun!

This blogsite is set up by a group of Malaysians, scattered locally and globally, who are gravely concerned with the current state of affairs in Malaysia. However, due to occupational hazards and our job security, we have to remain anonymous to the public, but we will keep a small circle of selected bloggers informed of who we are, and what we do. This is our strategic option at the moment. Admittedly, we are gripped in a total state of fear, and no one can trust no one. You may not even want to trust us, which is perfectly sensible and understandable. But knowing this country, we simply can’t take chances.

We must also declare that, while we accept commentaries to the postings in this blog, we don’t have the time, energy and resources to respond to each and every message, let alone to moderate them. We are doing this out of goodwill and in the interests of fellow Malaysians. Ultimately, you may judge us by what we attempt to do in the days ahead. Just let us withstand the test of time and public opinion as time goes by. By the look of it, we believe, these defamation suits are designed to wear off the bloggers, and ultimately to muzzle them. So be prepared for the long-haul.

On the larger issue, in the opinion space, we want to make sure that the power paradigm changes with Internet time. The modes of mass communication have changed drastically, so must our thought process and outlook. We thought democracy will be refreshing only if bottom-up voices are heard and endeared.

While we will stay focussed on the Big Picture issues pertaining to the opinion space, we are not here in support of just Jeff Ooi and Rocky alone. We are here for the sake of fellow Malaysian bloggers who are now gripped in mounting fear. The ‘Chilling Effect” is what NSTP and its political masters intended!

First, they intimidated you with threats of ISA. Next, they vilified you with all sorts of names, and all sorts of pretexts. Next, they sent for the ministers to hurl veiled threats on all bloggers, calling us penembak curi. Now come the defamation suits. What else from this NST-Umno unholy tie that binds?

We can’t allow certain media operatives of the Power-that-be, who cleverly camouflaged themselves as practitioners in the mainstream media, to usurp corporate financial resources to fight the small guys.

We should unite to give them a fight, that this country deserves better journalists and better journalism.

CONTACT US

Don’t email us as we don’t have paid staff to manage the secretarial work. However, if you have critical information that could help the sued bloggers fight their case, please email us at walkwithus2007 AT hushmail DOT com.

9 Responses to “About Us”


  1. Dear Walk With Us,

    A good effort you have here, thanks for the work!

    I would humbly and sincerely invite you to post the names of the people involved in this site, as while anonymous blogging may have its time and place, this may not be it. After all, without putting our name to our work, are we not after all being penembak curi? 😦

    Thanks again for your initiative!

    Best wishes,
    nat

  2. Nani Says:

    I enjoy reading blogs but confused here.

    If a blog say something about me is not correct, is it wrong for me to sue the person who wrote the false story ?


  3. Dear Walk With Us,

    I’m saddened to hear about the defamation lawsuits brought against Jeff Ooi & Ahirudin Attan. 😦

    It is unfortunate that the rich & powerful have the resources, especially financial, to bring about such lawsuits. As is also the case here in Singapore where, over many years the ruling Peoples Action Party is infamous for suing its opponents for defamation and winning its cases within a compliant judiciary. And extracting large amounts of money. The victors call it “damages” but I call it “blood money”. 😦

    Its heartening to see that both of them have supporters like you rallying behind & beside them. I pray things will eventually turnout fine for Jeff & Ahirudin. 🙂

  4. susan loone Says:

    first of all NST is not pro-govt, it is govt newspaper. secondly, with all the hype about responsible blogging, no point to stay anonymous, especially if just cut and paste things from every where. thirdly, why no mention or cut and paste about “no to nstp” campaign or even bloggers united campaign? you left a big part of this event by leaving out these two important campaigns because its not supported by a few but many bloggers, in and out of country, many with their names and identity open.

  5. Chris Goh Says:

    Hello,
    Where can I contribute to your legal fund? I am supporting you all the way.

    You all are welcome to visit http://www.durianroom.com.

    “DurianRoom website is dedicated to people who wish to share their interest in spreading good/bad messages, rants, and raves, without fear of retribution or censorship. ”

    Thanks and good luck

    Chris
    http://www.DurianRoom.com
    USA

  6. ylchong Says:


    Desi is reproducing his humble Comment made yesterday (Jan 23, 2007) at the said referred site because I truly feel this subject is of utmost concern to ALL BLOGGERS — veteran, few years old like Desi, newbies alike — and I stress that my views are just One Concerned Blogger’s, and there is enough room for diversity and divergence of opinions. As I posted earlier: “Blogger’s Realm as Diverse as Journalists'”

    ylchong Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    January 23rd, 2007 at 2:39 pm
    Jeff Ooi and Ahiruddin Atan are actual persons who dare to reveal true IDs. Any initiative on their Cause also must reveal their true IDs, otherwise what standards are you following o=if not these TWO LEADERS?

    You guys state as if we Bloggers in Malaysia are caught in a Cloak&Dagger situation, to wit:
    “Admittedly, we are gripped in a total state of fear, and no one can trust no one. You may not even want to trust us, which is perfectly sensible and understandable. But knowing this country, we simply can’t take chances.”

    Take a look in the mirror, you already have planted the seeds of fear and suspicion where in the first instance, there was NONE with me as a blogger who was inspired by Jeff and I started blogging 1-3/4years ago with my ID fully revealed.

    I throw back this challenge to you: Show true grit, otherwise, cease and desisit because you can not rise to the clalenge (dilemma) faced by the owners of Screenshots (Jeff) and RockyBru.

    PS: I’m RE-sending this (with original copy, typos and all!) as my first one did NOT appear since first posting. Hope I’m lucky second time around.~~ Desi

  7. ylchong Says:

    PPS:

    I wil join the walk officially if the Movers behind this initiative today declare their identities.
    DELETE this paragraph-lah: “This blogsite is set up by a group of Malaysians, scattered locally and globally, who are gravely concerned with the current state of affairs in Malaysia. However, due to occupational hazards and our job security, we have to remain anonymous to the public, but we will keep a small circle of selected bloggers informed of who we are, and what we do. This is our strategic option at the moment. Admittedly, we are gripped in a total state of fear, and no one can trust no one. You may not even want to trust us, which is perfectly sensible and understandable. But knowing this country, we simply can’t take chances.” from above Post as my Challenge! as we also follow Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s credo,
    “Writing without Fear or Favour”!

    PPS added: 2.06pm Ferb3, 2007

  8. shar101 Says:

    Guyz,

    There is a similar blogsite named “walkwithus.emuse.cc” which claims to be the ‘official site for walk with us’.

    Thus far, the blogsite is aggregating posts from here, Rocky’s and Screenshots.

    Will it create confusion in due course?

  9. Lim Wing Hooi Says:

    ‘The government is also planning to get bloggers to register with the information ministry. Even though Kong Cho Ha (deputy minister) admitted that the system would be difficult to apply, it could nevertheless push Malaysian bloggers daring to criticize the government to stop publishing and self censor’

    Reported on December 4, 2006, Reporters Without Borders

    source: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=19994, retrieved April 7, 2007

    I was thinking about this piece of news for a while. A few questions crop out…

    1) Why are people critisizing the government?

    2) Why is it that the goverment is trying to silence the critics instead of answering to the criticisms?

    3) Why do bloggers have to use this channel to voice out?

    It seems all of us know the answers, but none would want to hold a mic and say it out loud in broad daylight.

    Till then, as long as none of the government people want to iron things out, and none of the majority of the populace demand an explanation… well, good luck.

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