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Setting the bar a little too high?

The Malyasian Deputy PM is none too impressed with that nation's bloggers, and had reminded them of section 121b of the penal code: "Section 121b deals with offences against the authority of the king, ruler or Yang DiPertua Negeri and carries a maximum penalty of life in prison".

He added "In the name of freedom, these websites allow the broadcast of slander, lies and swearing, the use of harsh, degrading language and racial slurs without regard for the reader or those concerned".
(Good job nothing like that happens on this side of the planet, eh?)

However, it is what the Deputy PM thinks blogs should be doing that is the interesting bit: "
We want blogs to be clean, a place to obtain accurate information, a reference point for honest opinion, not a platform to abuse and slander people".

I would wish him good luck, but for the fact this seems to be more about attacking freedom of speech than trying to raise the tone...

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Blogger CityUnslicker said... 9:34 pm

Malaysia and Singapore must be well up there in the dullest countries on Earth to try and live in.

I have not been to either but by all reports they are tragic.

A friend lives in an oil camp in Saudi which is dull, but the jihadi threat ast least keeps them on their toes.

Any other additions to this list C?  

Anonymous Nomad said... 9:41 am


With all due respect:

1. "dullest countries etc". You should not believe everything you read in the newspapers.

2. The Malaysian and Singapore Governments (and people) have a fine line to tread to keep their truly multi-cultural countries peaceful and in one piece, something they have both managed successfully since Independence 50 years ago - unlike so many other countries around the world. In Malaysia, criticism of members of the government or parliament is permitted, and generally accepted, but anything, whether written or spoken, that is likely to upset this delicate balance is rapidly squashed, and this is a policy that everyone understands and (generally) approves of.

3. The local blogosphere is watching intently as this saga unfolds and the whole gamut of opinions has been expressed and can be freely read on a range of SE Asian blogs; just go looking...

4.You really should try to get out more. Come and spend a week or two in this part of the world - you might be pleasantly surprised. And I guarantee your bonuses will go a hell of a lot further here in Malaysia than in the hell-hole that is currently the UK!

5. Dull they may well be. But, for example, you do not have to wait 18 months to get on a waiting list see a specialist if you are seriously ill and you can go to any dentist at the drop of a hat and get your teeth fixed for very little cost. The food ain't bad either! So lots of silver linings to be had to counteract the dullness...

6. I too have spent time in desert oil camps and whole-heartedly agree they are, just like some English towns I have visited, dreadfully dull places (despite the easy availability of .. er.. naughty sand-covered movies).  

Blogger Ed said... 10:18 am

Blogs are rubbish - they should be banned!

I have never been to Singapore or Malaysia but they both sound interesting places. Malaysia sounds a bit more chaotic so might be more my scene although apparently in Singapore once you scratch the surface you can find things which aren't quite a prim and clean as the public image suggests.

I think there's a lot to be said for the Singapore model of public restraint and politeness - presumably what you get up to in your own home is your business.  

Anonymous verity said... 2:08 pm

CU is outrageously ill-informed and Ed is a fantasist. You don't have to daringly "scratch the surface". Oooooh, Mrs!

Malaysia is not "more chaotic", Ed,and I don't know where you got that impression. It is an extremely well-run, orderly country full of three different races who rub along together pretty well.

Singapore is not dull. It's wonderful. And as Nomad said, the food in both places is beyond anything anywhere else in the world. (Nomad, have you been to Singapore's Peranekan Place for Nonya?) And I defy any straight man to walk down any street in the business section of KL or Singapore and not fall in love 20 times in the course of 10 minutes. (And plenty of dishy men for the girls.)

I worked in both countries. I love them both. I think I love Singapore the best, but Malaysia also can, lah! They are both vivid and vibrant and wealthy. They are certainly one hell of a lot less provincial than most English towns and cities and much better informed about the world. Singapore so rich that, even though the bus shelters are just a plexglass curve with a roof, they're air-conditioned. To save you the bother of crossing a busy street, they built escalators over them. Somehow, one fails to long for mean-spirited England.

Singapore (and, Nomad, I think Malaysia) hang murderers and drug dealers/carriers. No big fuss. No endless appeals. It only happens four or five times a year as most people aren't that stupid, because they know that death means death in those two countries, but the Friday edition of The Straits Times will carry a notice saying "So and So was hanged in Changi Prison at 6:49 a.m. today." And they tell you what the crime was. That's it.

I second Nomad's suggestion that Ed and City Unslicker get out more. What a stream of provincial ignorance.  

Anonymous Nomad said... 3:11 pm

Hallo Verity - I guess we'll just have to teach these stay-at-homes a lesson. The world is much bigger than the daily 07.36 from Surbiton and the 17.22 back again.

Yes, I have visited said victualling establishment in Singapore - and well worth every cent too!

On drugs, Singapore seems to be rather more srict with enforcing its rules than Malaysia. Anyone caught with over a very small amount of drugs will certainly feel the wrath of the law and although the death penalty is mandatory it seems to take years for executions to actually be carried out, and then either they are or the sentence is commuted to life behind bars (ie until you pop your clogs, and not say 20 years and then out again) - not a very enticing prospect in either Singapore or Malaysia. Lawyers always haggle about the difference between possession and trafficking which serves to muddy the waters. So, be warned: come and see these interesting and eminently civilised places, but leave your stash at home for when you get back.  

Anonymous verity said... 3:38 pm

Hello, Nomad. They hang them fairly quickly - they do get an appeal - in Singapore. Their view is, you knew you shouldn't be carrying drugs. You knew Singapore's reputation and you could read the notice on your landing card. (The one that reads "Death for drugs"?) You did it anyway, so we are removing you from the gene pool.

Also, no one, no one, no one who is sentenced to the rotan ever commits a rotan-attracting crime again as long as they live. If the number of strokes you are sentenced to are judged too many by the prison doctor, they give you half at one go, then allow you to heal for a couple of weeks, knowing all the time that you have the other half to undergo. It works.

When he was younger, Lee Kuan Yew was the handsomest head of government in the world. Now his son, Lee Hsien Loong is the handsomest head of government in the world.

Public transport is a dream. No food or drink allowed on the tube or even in the stations.

And they had swipe card passports (and for people with work permits) at Changi, so you just walked through Immigration by swiping your card. No lining up and having your passport checked.

I had a car three times, and then finally, dispensed with a car because taxis are so eeeeaaaaasy in Singpore. You call for one, he dispatcher puts out the bid over the radio, the drivers respond, "Two minutes" "five minutes", whatever. She takes the quickest and gives you the taxi number. You go downstairs and as you walk out the door, your taxi drives up.

You are right, Nomad. There's more to life than the 7:57 from Hemel Hempstead to Euston. I've made myself homesick for Singapore now. Curses!  

Anonymous Nomad said... 3:54 pm

Verity - If I had the wherewithal I would DHL you a crate of ice cold Tiger to help you over the worst of it!  

Anonymous verity said... 5:06 pm

Thanks, Nomad. I'll accept it as a virtual gift.

Actually, I wouldn't mind a virtual Nonya take-away curry while you're at it.

Terima kasi!  

Blogger flashgordonnz said... 1:42 am

I thought Begium was generally considered the dullest place on earth.
I can vouch for Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Great food, great people, great countries to visit and live in.  

Anonymous Verity said... 2:32 am

I thought it was Britain.

Thailand. No thanks. Cannot stand them. Smiling, two-faced creeps. They are copiers.

I don't see Cambodia and Viet Nam as having any personality at all; perhaps because they were French. I cannot see why you are comparing these countries.

If you want inernational credibility, it's S'pore and Malaysia. Who has ever heard of Thailand,and what the hell does it do, anyway? Cambodia and all those little twizzlies ... Viet Nam and all that ...

Singapore is a world player. In many ways, the world follows Singapore. As in swipe passports, invented in Singapore 10 years ago. Malaysia is almost a world player.

ASEAN only has two important countries: Singapore and Malaysia and their economies are mega.

Myanmar? Hello? Indonesia? Not bad, but a follower, not an innovator. They have oil in Borneo, but oil is on its way out, frankly. Then what? All these twizzly little Cambodias and things, who the hell cares? Brunei ... hello?  

Anonymous Nomad said... 4:14 am

Gave up late night as it was past my bedtime out east!

I was merely going to pick up Verity's point about the rotan, a large thick stiff bamboo cane, to which certain miscreants are introduced in both Singpore and Malaysia. Personally I am all in favour of a little harmless corporal punishment which in my view should be carried out in the centre of the main square in town to enhance its humiliation and deterrence value! Or is that old fashioned?

Some time ago an American teenager was caught spray-painting parked cars in Singapore. The judge sentenced him to be caned for his vandalism and, despite the howls of protests from the US Embassy and various other groups of bleeding-heart whingers about the poor little diddums's human rights etc, the sentence was carried out. His nether regions got thwacked a few times, spent a few days in jug and was then unceremoniously deported. I'll bet next year's salary that he won't be doing any spray-painting again in Singapore for a while. As Verity says, it is a great place to live and work. Behave yourself and you have nothing to worry about in this virtually crime free city state.

PS: Verity - herewith one virtual Nonya with extra chillis on the side! Enjoy.

PPS: I notice that CU appears to have gone to ground!  

Blogger Ed said... 8:33 am

I seem to have incurred Verity's wrath! (again)

By chaotic I meant a bit scruffier round the edges - it wasn't a negative thing. I haven't been to Singapore or Malaysia but I have been to lots of other places so less of the looking down your nose at my "provincial" attitude thank you very much. You aren't the only person on the internet to have been out of England.  

Anonymous verity said... 12:47 pm

Ed - Believe me, Malaysia is not "scruffy around the edges". KL is one of the sleekest places you will ever travel to. And don't get me started on Penang, which is mainly Chinese and simply wonderful. Everything works the first time. It's stylish, glamourous, slick. And there's an excellent toll highway to Singapore.

Thanks for the curry, Nomad. I'm having it for breakfast. What a great way to start the day!

For the interest of others, the rotan is applied across the entire back, not just their arses, and this is why they strap special, purpose made padding around the kidneys. The rotan is very long and therefore it comes down with great force. (They strap the miscreant down, by the way, as the natural inclination would be to jump off the table and go and crouch in a corner,whimpering.)

Re the little American creep: there were three or four of them spraying cars - one American, Martin someone, and three Chinese youths. Martin's mom tried to get his sentence commuted because her little boy (her little badly brought up boy) shouldn't be subjected to such primitive punishment. That, as I know you will have intuited, went over like a lead balloon with the Singapore government.

I was there at the time and remember it well. It was covered in The Straits Times every day,much to the amusement of the locals.

Martin's mom wrote to President Clinton. Dear God! You'd have thought she was trying to get the death penalty commuted rather than get her delinquent kid out of a thrashing.

Bill, as ever, felt her pain. And probably Martin's pain, too, and - probably balancing it against the pain he felt for the owners of the damaged cars - actually was stupid enough to make representations to the Singapore government. I'm surprised that State did not tell him that this is not a good idea with the Chinese.

Long and short, Martin got his thrashing as planned, in floods of tears,knees knocking in fear. The three or four Chinese boys took their punishment like men, too proud to even whimper. I know who my money's on for making a success out of life.

By the way, every expat I knew,including many Americans, were thoroughly behind the Singapore government and embarrassed by the actions of this dreadful woman.

And you are right, Nomad; the family moved back to the United States - probably of their own free will, I don't know - but let's put it this way: even if they had wanted to stay, I feel there might have been a problem with renewing his father's work permit.

Ed, you have never been to SE Asia so I don't know how you came to commenting that Malaysia is "scruffy round the edges". If you're looking for "scruffy round the edges", stay in England.  

Blogger Ed said... 1:08 pm

Ed, you have never been to SE Asia


Anonymous Verity said... 1:21 pm

BTW- in Changi prison, they sleep on mats on the floor. Their diet is lots of rice with some bits of meat chopped up in it. That's about it. And they work.

The Singapore prison system is one of the most cost effective in the world, and their recidivism rate is 24%. While they're incarcerated, prisoners have to take O Level GCEs (S'pore O levels are equal to British A levels now). Quite a few of them leave with actual O level qualifications under their belts and find employment.  

Anonymous verity said... 1:22 pm

I don't know. Perhaps you indicated that you had never been to SE Asia.  

Blogger Ed said... 1:53 pm

Well, if one your maps Singapore and Malaysia are the only two countries in South-East Asia, then according to the Encyclopaedia Veritia you are correct.

As for my provincial ignorance, my comments were based on what I have heard from people who have been to those two countries. Scruffiness and chaos are of course relative, my assertion was that Malaysia is more chaotic than Singapore and that from what I've heard I would prefer Malaysia. When I've been to both places perhaps my mind will be changed.

In the meantime please don't waste your life looking down your nose at people you know nothing about. I happen to like England a lot, but know it could be so much better. That is why I involve myself in politics and debate rather than move somewhere else and revel in being superior to my fellow countrymen.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 2:22 pm

More light, less heat. Please.  

Anonymous verity said... 5:15 pm

Ed - I don't "revel in being superior to my fellow countrymen." I don't like trite accusations based on uninformed hearsay and will correct them if I happen to know better.

Your friends "who have been to both places" clearly weren't there long enough to make a reasoned judgement. I'm not going to bang on about this,but both countries are sleek and efficient and both value public order. For instance, I never saw vomit on the street in either country. Never saw a drunk, either, except people getting a bit giggly in bars. That American Michael kid and his pals were flogged because people were so shocked at such behaviour. They simply are not accustomed to it. And they didn't intend it to become commonplace.

Nomad, do they still have Instant Café in KL? It was very good satirical caberet and I know that famous government ministers used to sneak in and sit in the back, ill-lit area so they could laugh incognito at some rather clever people making pointed comments about the government. Is it still going? It was very witty.  

Blogger CityUnslicker said... 9:12 pm

well they still sound dull to me, but if Nomad and Verity are prepared to pony up some air tickets for a week's stay I will be more than happy see if I am wrong......

I will refrain from attempts at humour in future.  

Anonymous verity said... 9:51 pm

CU - If I care to pony up for an air ticket for anyone, it will be for me. You are welcome to continue to believe these phantom reports - which I have never encountered myself - that Singapore and Malaysia "are tragic".

You've probably heard that Hong Kong is flat and lifeless,too, and that they roll up the pavements at 9 p.m. Close for two hours for lunch, just like France. Am I right?

I hear Beijing's a real downer. No sizzle.  

Anonymous Nomad said... 4:15 am

Verity: Yes - The Instant Cafe group is still going strong.

Click here for the latest http://www.artseefartsee.com/instantcafe/index2.shtml

Sorry, can't do links so cut and paste gets the same results.

CU: Sorry mate, someone left the stable door open last night and the damned pony has disappeared...  

Anonymous Verity said... 1:46 pm

Thanks, Nomad. I'll save the link until I'm more awake. Caberet Twinings English Breakfast tea together aren't that appealing.

Do government ministers still slip in the back, incognito? I remember one could sometimes spot a minister laughing helplessly at clever jibes about his colleagues. To be fair, they also laughed at themselves. Well, some of them did. Probably the ones without a sense of humour didn't go.

About that horse that bolted the stable, it's OK. No one in scruffy Bangsar would notice a horse running around all those 60-story condos.  

Anonymous verity said... 10:52 pm

Nomad - thanks. And thanks for Boleh! I was hoping Instant Café might have a video online, but probably not. Anyway, how nice to see that they're still soldiering on, and are also getting private bookings!

Instant Café boleh lah!  

Anonymous Nomad said... 3:48 am

Verity: About the ministers, sorry, I am afraid I do not know.

I wonder if everybody else reading this is wondering why we are so engrossed in a discussion about Nestle and Maxwell House beverages...? Ah well, at least Mr C kindly gives us the space to confuse the rest of the (no doubt eminently dazzling, interesting, vibrant, and above all tidy!) world.  

Anonymous verity said... 1:32 pm

You are right, Nomad. Thanks to Mr C and his hospitality! I feel quite cheered up after hearing all that news of Malaysia. I am sending him a virtual Tiger Beer by way of thanks. I really love that place.  

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