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Anti-ISA Candlelight Vigil at Blog House

OK, this is a bit late, but here is my account of the hastily organised vigil last Sunday (15th September). It was very hastily organised: from what I can gather it was decided on at about 3pm and then announced here, here and here; the message also spread by SMS (the way I heard about it) and surely by email too. It started at 9pm and in all about 125 people there (some have placed the figure higher at 160-200). In any case, the speed of mobilisation is testament to the significance of blogs in terms of communication and mobilisation. Although the SMS, email and word of mouth are key to actually making it happen, by having a recognised blog such as the ones listed above (Rocky’s Bru, Nat Tan, Tok Mommy) announcing an event – it immediately has credibility, and provides a stable reference point to check any information that comes from elsewhere. I know that I always check Rocky’s Bru for things to do with SoPo blogs, and Malaysiakini for any political/national information I hear; because there are rumours that swirl around easily too.

Nat Tan, who MC'd for the evening, kicked off by mentioning how when he had been arrested, the knowledge that there were people outside supporting him helped give him strength. Then he asked for a minute's silence.

The people gathered around in the drizzling rain to hear a succession of speakers argue that the ISA is a reprehensible law, and should be repealed and detainees set free. You can get more information in the links below but the basic points were made by the President of the Bar Council Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan who reminded everyone that it was not just about the recently incarcerated ISA detainees, but all of them; YB Wee Choo Keong said that UMNO were making an intra-party problem a national problem; and YB Sivarasa Rasiah said that the government were trying to scare bloggers and the media into silence.

Faisal Mustaffa spoke in BM, so unfortunately I couldn’t understand, but I guess his clothes told me the bulk of what he was saying :-)
Continue reading "Anti-ISA Candlelight Vigil at Blog House"

A year for All-Blogs and 100 days for Malaysia (more or less)

All-Blogs started around April last year , Blog House opened in August, and Malaysian politics entered a dramatic new phase 100 days ago (actually 122 today). To celebrate the 100 days, All-Blogs organised a dinner last Saturday.

Given all the heated political happenings recently, you might have expected there to be some serious politicking going on, but the evening turned out to be much more relaxed than I expected.
Soon after I arrived. More people turned up later.

I arrived about 8pm, and after signing in and signing my own cup (part of an effort to avoid wasting plastic cups – good idea :-)), I got a beer and some of the nice food provided. As the evening went on more people turned up, and I was surprised by the number of YBs there – seven in all: Nurul Izzah Anwar , Mukhriz Mahathir, Jeff Ooi , Loh Kwo Burne , Wee Choo Keong , Ronnie Liu , and Tian Chua came by – I didn’t see him but saw a photo afterwards. Notice the odd one out? I asked Mukhriz Mahthir if he had a blog, and he said no but maybe he would get one...

This gathering really seemed to reflect some of the momentous changes happened over the last year: from ‘stupid unemployed women’, (some) bloggers have been promoted to legitimate political commentators on a national scale, BN and UMNO have been shaken to the core, and the opposition is in the ascendant.

Blogs really are the flavour of the week: when I went to the Blog House opening last year, there was a definite feeling of being a bit ‘underground’, and blogs were regularly being attacked and demonised in the press. And you would not have seen major companies sponsoring them! This time round, a whole slew of companies donated funds, including Air Asia and LG in particular.

In Rocky’s post there are some comments questioning the implication of corporate sponsorship, to which Rocky has responded; and someone has suggested the formation of an alternative bloggers group.

Continue reading "A year for All-Blogs and 100 days for Malaysia (more or less)"

All-Blogs 100 Days event – Before

Continuing with my data collection re the event, below is a list of posts online before the event. I try to find them by searching for ‘100 days All-Blogs’ in Google and Technorati, and checking the first 10 pages of results (Google returns more than Technorati). Then in the posts I try to follow links from commenters and such, and also guessing who might have posted about it.

To be honest, they mostly say the same thing – just announcing the event details, and so on, some emphasising more the ‘Meet your YB’ aspect than others. I guess what is does show how blogs are used for organising events: 16 21 [updated 08/07/08] blogs in all mentioned it, which may not seem a lot, but the collective readership of those blogs will be in the thousands (mostly concentrated on the big names – Screenshots, Rocky, The People’s Parliament, etc.) [& Malaysia Today 08/07/08].

At the end of the event, one of the last announcements was about the protest the next day, saying ‘see you tomorrow… if you don’t know the details, check the blogs’. Not to re-state the obvious, but it the way it was said – so matter-of-factly – it just brought home to me how much blogs are interwoven with contestatory political action in Malaysia, and how effectively blogs enable the bypassing of controls on information that were so prevalent before. They act as essential logistical nodes that disseminate information and provide an ‘always-on’ low-level mobilising tool for political action.

Continue reading "All-Blogs 100 Days event – Before"

Bloggers allied

The 25th August was a very significant date for the Malaysian blogosphere: the National Alliance of Bloggers (All-Blogs) was launched, complete with its own bricks-and-mortar locale in Bukit Damansara.

Blog House All-Blogs Malaysia
The first 'Blog House' in the world?

Despite not having registered, the organisers were kind enough to let me in after I dropped Cheryl's name (thanks Cheryl!:-)) Once I was in I spotted a few familiar faces, such as Wattahack?, muststopthis, Howsy, Jun x 2 and desiderata; and also met some new people, such as the prolific graphic artist mob1900.

After a while Rocky opened the proceedings by leading a rendition of the Negaraku, and giving a brief history of All-Blogs, then Haris Ibrahim expounded a bit on the theme of Bangsa Malaysia which had been the subject of the forum in the afternoon.

I won't go over the evening in detail, as others have given various accounts of it (I parked the urls in a previous post), but I thought I'd go further into something I said while there. At one point bloggers were asked to introduce themselves, and I was 'volunteered': I said a few words, then proceeded to say that the event there - the forming of a blogger alliance and Blog House, was possibly unique in the world. Afterwards, I wondered how accurate was that - so here is a little research into the issue...

'Blogmeets', bloggers meeting offline, have been happening for a while (I don't have any accurate information there, but I do remember Reed mentioning them happening in UK, at some point between 2001 and 2005), and in my opinion usually mark a certain 'maturity', or stage of development, of a blog 'community'. In terms of the virtual/real discourse, it marks a confluence of the 'virtual' and 'real' worlds: though I prefer to use the terms online and offline, as it's all 'real' to me. Blogmeets were usually somewhat informal events, social gatherings with no particular objective in mind apart from getting to know other bloggers better. So bloggers meeting offline isn't new, but the Blog House inauguration was specifically about inaugurating a place to house a formal organisation designed to represent the interests of bloggers - All-Blogs. This is unusual I think. It was also the venue for the launching of PELITAR, a movement to promote the concept of Bangsa Malaysia - but I'll not go into that in any depth as it doesn't relate specifically to blogs.

To find out more about alliances, I googled the following terms: 'blogger alliance', 'blog alliance', 'blogger union', 'blog union'. I also searched in Technorati, but surprisingly hardly any of the blogs I got through Google turned up in Technorati. This is what I got, grouped into rough categories. Continue reading "Bloggers allied"

Blog House / Bangsa Malaysia posts

Here is a list of all the blog posts I could find that relate to the Blog House/Bangsa Malaysia/All-Blogs inauguration on the 25th August. If I have missed any out, please tell me.

I'll be posting a couple of posts on blog alliances in general shortly.

[ g h o s t l i n e ]: Bangsa Malaysia: The Event (Pt 1)
A Little Taffer's Room: The Bangsa Malaysia Report
Bangsa Malaysia: Profile of Bangsa Malaysia
Bolehland: Saya Bangsa Malaysia
Can you see it?: 25th August 2007. Be there.
desiderata-ylchong: Pelitar to Foster the Malaysianness in Us
Euphoria in Misery: Idealism isn’t dead in Malaysia
June x 2: Merdeka!
MageP's Lab: Bangsa Malaysia: The way forward
Magpie: I don't know......I have always been Bangsa Melayu and Rakyat Malaysia!
MY JOURNAL: 22. Bangsa Malaysia Forum
myAsylum: One Voice, One Malaysia
Nuraina A Samad's 3540 Jalan Sudin: Kita, Bangsa Malaysia.....
O.B.E.: Bloghouse is up.
Rocky's Bru: bangsa malaya to BANGSA MALAYSIA
S.O.B Nation: Bangsa Malaya to BANGSA MALAYSIA_XXX
Screenshots...: Lest we forget... This Merdeka is for Tunku (for only if not for Tunku...)
shanghai fish: 66,Lorong Setiabistari 1, Bukit Damansara, 50490 Kuala Lumpur.
Sivin Kit’s Garden: Random Thoughts after the Bangsa Malaysia Merdeka Get-Together
t.he. r.e.b.e.l w.i.t.h.i.n u.s: Making of “Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia”
The “thirteen million plus Ringgit” guy rambles…: All-Blogs logo is up
The “thirteen million plus Ringgit” guy rambles…: “Bangsa Malaysia” forum at Blog-house dedication
The Life of a Bapak: Pengertian Merdeka
THE NOCTURNAL MIND: Bangsa Malaysia Merdeka Get Together @ Bloghouse
The People’s Parliament: Bangsa Malaysia Merdeka Get-together : The Real Thing
The Sensintrovert: More Than Just Karaoke Singers...
Wattahack?: LOGO OR LOGO?
yeah, sure, whatever: The Blog-house do
zorro-unmasked: WHEN WILL IT BE OUR TURN?