It is easy to appreciate why Yaacob Ibrahim may harbour a personal grudge against the internet. After all, it was through WikiLeaks we learnt of his choice of a Puerto Rican for a life partner, a decision that must have caused discomfit to his parents and relatives. A Malay neighbour once lamented how his father's eyes would brighten up at the sight of his grandchildren, and yet pay scant acknowledgement of his Chinese wife. Some matters are just plain visceral.
Leading his own crusade in the social media, Ibrahim boasts, "there are people out there who want to make sure the Internet doesn't get killed by the downsides.. and they are prepared to be part of the process." Downsides as in how rumours can be spread like wildfire, such as a Green Card could be convenient route to evade NS obligations. Whilst maintaining that traditional media can "separate the wheat from the chaff," he revealed that, as of last December, government ministries and agencies have set up more than 140 Facebook initiatives, 60 YouTube channels, 60 Twitter accounts and 30 mobile applications.
Somewhere after warning that there are laws in place which can deal with those who cause harm, a Vietnamese journalist asked if the local media had gone overboard in publishing the names and faces of those charged with dealings with a teenage whore. She said the families of those accused would be affected, maybe even harmed. We are, after all, in a society where loan sharks periodically harass innocent family homes due to mistaken identities.
Showing his bias, the Minister said "you can't prevent the newspapers from reporting on it", and veered off his pontificating with "In terms of coverage, we leave it to the better judgment of the media providers." Well, how about leaving the truth coverage to the likes of Julian Assange and similar media providers? The Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do to you", the basis of many of the ethical systems on which societies have been built, is found in Islamic, Taoist, Sikh as well as other religious texts. Surely the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs knows that.