My Donkey Blog

Blogging Safely & Responsibly

If you are a government servant, its not really easy to blog. Your every words and pictures would be scrutinised. Surprisingly not from the public but more from your colleagues (you know who you are people!). There will always be someone who will give their comments - saying "that you have stepped over official your boundary. (Okay - sorry for the heated words, shall we kiss and make up?)

"That is official news" "You cannot put that in your blog" "Your blog is a personal website. You cannot use official materials and pictures for your blog".

Then they will throw the Malaysian Official Secrets Act at you....bearing in mind that the "Malaysia's Official Secrets Act is a broadly-worded law which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, as well as significant lesser penalties for the actions associated with the wrongful collection, possession or communication of official information. Any public officer can declare any material an official secret -- a certification which cannot be questioned in court . The act allows for arrest and detention without a warrant, and substantially reverses the burden of proof. It states that "until the contrary is proven," any of the activities proscribed under the act will be presumed to have been undertaken "for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of Malaysia." It is not necessary for the authorities to show that the accused person was guilty of a particular act, and states that even if no act is proved, the accused person may still be convicted on the basis of "the circumstances of the case, his conduct or his known character..."

Duh! I do not know how my other fellow government servants are faring in their blogging activities. I have Cikgu Dunstan who shares with us the sad conditions of his school in Dalat area. There is Numpang who gets a word or two about his bosses and other government departments performance's. If you see that Act, blogging now seems to be a dangerous actvity, and in my case, its like walking into a minefield.

Sure, I agree that there should be some kind of self-censorship, especially if it involves Official Secrets. But its really hard to identify which are official secets and whether they are 'Top Secrets' ....even tough its public knowledge already. Then again there is the good intention of sharing the knowledge and experience - to me its like informing fellow blog readers about the life in the State Government, the challenges in executing our duties. There used to be a similiar publication known as the Sarawak Gazette where the Sarawak Administrative Officers write down their experiences in the daily administration of the Districts under their charge. Datu Hatta Solhee (formerly a Deputy State Secretary, now retired) at one time commented, "...that Public Officers now seldom write about their experiences".

With the increase connectivity and the increased sophistication in the Internet, tech savvy officers tend to write in weblogs which, whether bad or not, are accessible to the web community to read. It is quite hard to differentiate between personal and official matters when one wants to put pen on paper, especially if you are a public officer - its like trying to find a fixed point at the rivermouth....where do you put a line for the river water to meet the vast sea. This may be a repeat of my earlier work blog which got me in trouble. I merely blogged about the effectiveness of the Performance Appraisal. Probably I am in the wrong department. I am thinking of putting up a transfer request to join an Agency or Department which is tourism based. At least my blogging activities would compliment my work if I share the beauty of Sarawak. Right now the effort of trying sharing the challenging moments of serving the State Government is misconstrued as leaking government secrets.....alas.... people will use every opportunity to shoot you down. Some people are trigger happy at this point in time - probably due to the coming elections maybe. Then maybe we can learn a thing or two from a Donkey's story.

I used to read Aesop's Fables especially the one about The Man, The Boy and The Donkey. If you know the story, just read it again the moral of the story or you can just skip it.

A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to market.
As they were walking along by its side a countryman passed them
and said: "You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?"

So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their
way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said: "See
that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides."

So the Man ordered his Boy to get off, and got on himself.
But they hadn't gone far when they passed two women, one of whom
said to the other: "Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little
son trudge along."

Well, the Man didn't know what to do, but at last he took his
Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to
the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The
Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said:
"Aren't you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey
with you and your hulking son?"

The Man and Boy got off and tried to think what to do. They
thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied
the donkey's feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to
their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met
them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one
of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end
of the pole. In the struggle the Donkey fell over the bridge, and
his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.

"That will teach you," said an old man who had followed them:

"Please all, and you will please none."

Let me see now......from the moral of the story it seems that my mum and dad has given me some good advice, my wife says I am crazy, my other buddies says I am asking for trouble.....and many more who are concerned....thank you thank you.... I am beginning to feel like the Man in the Donkey Tale. But hey, these people who gave feedback are those who are close and dear to my heart and I do believe they are concerned about what I put in my blog. I do not have the inspiration of Jeffooi's strength to challenge the unwritten rules in the Official Act? Thus it is only right I follow the will of the majority? After all the Prime Minister had also chosen a similiar path (to avoid making sacrifices that are not beneficial) when he decided not to go ahead with the Malaysia - Singapore Bridge. Due to too many 'sensitive' information and also 'sensitive' people I myself have to be 'sensitive'. Yeah...I am on the way to be a sensous person. But then again, if people remember the Five Thrusts of the Ninth Malaysia Plan, its also about building First Class Mentality among Malaysians - here we are presented with the Internet, a First Class Technology. Wearing a Third Class Mentality hat would mean that everything we percieve about the Internet and its contents would be negative. Innovativeness,competitiveness and global mindedness will be stifled and the potential of using ICT to propel us to greater heights would just be an illusion.....purely virtual without the substances.

A related message given by the Deputy Prime Minister has also greatly inspired me on how to tone my blogs after this. The News Straits Time Report excerpts of his speech:

'Criticisms must induce progress'
NST 26 Apr 2006

KUALA LUMPUR: Local publications are welcome to criticise the Government, but they must be constructive in doing so, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday.He said criticism was always a good thing as long as it remained constructive and was meant to induce progress and improvement.

"Criticism for the sake of sensationalism is negative."

Najib said publishers had to be prudent, cautious and sensitive. "I think all of us believe in freedom of the media, but if unfettered by responsibility, that is not freedom but anarchy." Speaking at the Publish Asia 2006 conference yesterday, Najib said publications must be responsible, particularly in countries with multi-racial and multi-religious societies.

He said freedom of the media and information should not be seen as carte blanche to publish, print and disseminate information that would lead to unrest and upheaval.Such restrictions, however, should not preclude publications from promoting discussion.

"This is not to suggest that publications should be tame, banal and mundane," Najib said in his keynote address.

"Nor is it to suggest that they cannot encourage debate or that they cannot criticise authorities or Governments."

He noted the publishing and media industry had changed much over the past decade.Describing the industry as "virtually unrecognisable today", Najib said publishers faced numerous challenges with the changing times.

"We find publishers racing to put out timely online editions with features such as podcasts, instant message alerts, chat rooms and blogs.

"Gone are the days when people used to be satisfied with reading what happened the previous day.

"Today, if it’s not breaking news, it may as well be yesterday’s news," he said.

The two-day event was organised by Ifra, an international association of newspaper and media publishers.

Works for me I guess - if you have to criticize, make sure its constructive. When have I been negative?

Saint Miguel

Before you read this, please bear in mind this is not a negative activity. In bibilical times people have been drinking some form of alcohol. *hic* In looking for some form of new ideas to tranform my future blogs and activities, I went into retreat with my cousin and discovered the joys of San Miguel Beer. Its quite limited here now, so I won't be telling where to find it in Kuching or it will deplete the already limited stock. This is responsible blogging people. Drinking is bad for your health. Let me drink these all up for you so that it may not reach your hands. When political topics are brought up, the beer seems to get sweeter. Discussions like this always seem to mix well with beer, especially San Miguel Beer!*hic*

San Miguel - was it inspired by a Saint Miguel?

My cousin is giving it a 5 Star Ratings! The only thing missing is the Filipino band.

San Miguel website: Making Everyday Life A Celebration

When I got back, I went to look up further information regarding the San Miguel brand, so that I may be able to persuade a few Kuching pubs to stock up on it. Surprisingly it is a famous brand name because when I accessed the website, I discover San Miguel is more than just about Beer! Its about 'Making Everyday Life A Celebration' - hmmmm.. makes a catchy Blog Theme. At least it cheered me up for a while. Yummy!! Take me to the Sheng and Gimme a San Miguel Beer!!


Unknown said…
Good post.

Don't let the naysayers stop you from blogging.

Take due care but don't stop writing what you need to. If you do, the conservative sheep conformists (who I hate with a vengeance) have won and that thought just pisses me off.
Yes man.. let them say what they want. However you also practise some common sense ler.

The San Miguel here is damn expensive ler... It is nice. The Chang is not bad too!
Uchu Keling said…
When we read the blog, we feel that we are standing next to the leaders, and that matter most!

Most of us couldn't even get a glimpse of them.. and you have created that special link between the people and leaders..

I guess your colleague are just checking the English :D
Anonymous said…
Hey bro, whats up, whats goin on in Kch lately? Mac is right, dont let the naysayers stop u from blogging. I visit ur blog almost everyday, here i get bunch of infos and connects me to other bloggers too. Thks for visiting my blog too, I know u're concern about my wellbeing here.
I think I know where to get San Miguel in Kch, the place seems familiar. Come overlah.....tonnes of San Miguel here, take Daniel and Math and Paul with you. We'll go boot scootin' , shoot some pools and get drunk.
Francis Ho said…
Blogging as a civil servant is indeed treading a very fine line; especially in Asia where the governments tend to be very sensitive.

But I know where your heart is and you know the line very well and how to tread it!

Prudence with good sense and judgement is vital in your position and situation.

Keep on blogging d desmond nadia nama nama way!
GerubiTuai said…
Des,Endang gaya iya nya jang...keep on writing. "Passionate hatred" tu just true feeling, and if they act it out reti iya they have responded, ko aku meh. Slow slow catch the monkey jang.
Rentap said…
Blogging about what u do always carry a risk. Risk of being punished for what you blog or what you did not blog. As long as you blog about information in the 'public domain', i can't see how u can be guilty under the OSA.
Those who cucuk u about blogging on ur work did so because they do not understand the spirit of blogging.Itu diaorang punya pasal.
We demand u to keep on blogging abt ur life and work.

Pasal San Miguel, Labuan sini its very laku amongst Rugby players & Brunaians. Don't know why. Maybe it is a 'light' beer and u won't get 'beer belly' if u take it frequently.The kick remains the same. Its cheaper than Carls, Heni & Tiger also.I prefer Carls & Tiger. said…

PS: Bila maok spon nie?