Category Archives: writing

Censorship should lie on society, not government



Censorship should lie on society, not government
By Zan Azlee

More than a decade ago, then-prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad declared during the height of the Multimedia Super Corridor that Malaysia would never censor the Internet.

And this remained gospel for a long time even after his resignation, with the government not wanting to offend the country’s longest serving prime minister by going against his promise.

But slowly, things have been taking a turn for the worse. More laws have been put in place to curb freedom of speech and expression, and this has extended online.

And yesterday at Malaysia Social Media Week 2015, even the the 22-year-serving prime minister reneged on his promise that the Internet would never be censored in Malaysia.

“When I was the prime minister, an expert told me I should never censor the Internet. But now I’ve changed my mind,” he was reported to have said.

Why the sudden change of mind? Well, it seems that the regulation of the Internet, particularly social media, would ensure that no sensitivities are touched on that would offend people.

By being able to control and regulate the Internet through censorship then, they are able to control those who abuse it and make sure that it is only used for a “good purpose”.

You see, the Internet has given the ordinary person a lot of power. It gives a voice to them to spread their opinions, thoughts and beliefs with almost no limits.

And with the argument that this power can be abused, Dr Mahathir is saying that we need to curb this power because the people just can’t handle it.

Is it not obvious that this is actually a step backwards in the wrong direction? When more power comes the way of the people, it only forces them to move forward.

And by moving forward, it means maturing and developing more responsibility in order to handle that power. It doesn’t mean halting it and not giving it a chance at all.

The problem I have with this is that the argument is always because there are people who abuse the Internet by spreading hate speech and racist messages that cause division.

Sure, we have the idiots like Alvin Tan and the like who seem to think that they can say anything they want without regard for its effects just because they feel they have a right to.

But you know what? Even though they are idiots, they really do have a right to say whatever they want. And we, the public, have the right to disagree with whatever they say.

Responsibility comes in many forms and it doesn’t just lie on the party that produces and puts out the content. It also lies on the party that consumes the content.

One of the beauties of the Internet is that although it empowers people by giving them a voice, it can also cruelly punish people via obscurity.

The consumers have the power to ignore whatever content they feel is offensive, negative and derogatory, thus throwing it into the black hole of the Internet.

So if people don’t like what obnoxious people like Alvin Tan say, or racist rants by Ridhuan Tee, Datuk Ibrahim Ali or Abdul Rani Kulup, they just need to ignore it.

It is what’s known as societal censorship, and it puts control and regulation of the Internet in the hands of the people rather than the government in power.

But for this to happen, there needs to be time for society to mature and develop. And this is a process that needs to happen naturally without being curbed.

And that is why I strongly believe that the systematic censorship of the Internet with the intention of protecting society is really more detrimental to society.

[This article originally appeared on The Malaysian Insider]

*oday’s ar*icle is brough* *o you by *he le**er ‘*’



*oday’s article is brough* *o you by *he le**er ‘*’
By Zan Azlee

*he Malay Muslims in Malaysia are a very special group of people. Among *heir most significan* charac*eris*ics are *ha* *hey are very sensi*ive, emo*ional and easily offended.

Hence, *hey need special pro*ec*ion from *hose who can pro*ec* *hem. Wha* *his means is *ha* *hey usually have a guardian, or guardians, cons*an*ly looking ou* for *hem.

When *hey are young children, *heir paren*s would shel*er *hem from harm and evil *hough*s by condi*ioning and con*rolling *heir minds cons*an*ly.

*hey are *augh* religion from a very young age and *he reason for *his is so *ha* *hey will have a strong founda*ion in *heir fai*h and won’* be easily corrup*ed when *hey are older.

Unfor*una*ely, a lo* of *he religious *eachings *hey receive are merely ri*uals *hat *hey are told *o perform ins*ead of actually being *augh* *o unders*and *he fai*h be**er.

So, when *hey grow older and *urn in *o adul*s, they can’* be weaned off the pro*ec*ion *hey have been given. *hey lack *he abili*y *o *hink for *hemselves.

*he very *hing *ha* *heir religious *eachings was suppose *o provide *hem with became *he very *hing *hat *hey lacked, which is, a s*rong founda*ion in *heir fai*h.

And *ha* is why *hese Malay Muslims will forever require pro*ec*ion and *aking care of. *he sligh*es* change in *he environment *ha* *hey are used *o will shake *heir fai*h.

If ano*her group of people who prac*ice a differen* religion *han *hem s*ar*s *o use *he same language as *hey do *o conduc* *heir prayers, *hey will ge* confused.

So, *he easies* solu*ion in order *o overcome *his problem is *o jus* ban all non-Malays from using *heir language for *heir prayers. Problem solved.

When *hey see *hings *ha* are coun*er-cul*ure wi*h wha* *hey are used *o, *hey ge* easily influenced and *he risk of *hem emula*ing wha* *hey have seen is very highly likely.

And ye* again, the mos* convenien* solu*ion is *o ban every*hing *ha* is differen* from *he Malay Muslims’ own cul*ure so *hey won’* be *hrea*ened. Problem solved.

And so i* is when i* comes to having big crosses being displayed in clear view of *he Malays, *hey would obviously be very *hrea*ened by i*.

From *heir lack of a s*rong religious founda*ion, jus* *he mere sigh* of a cross, or any*hing similar *o a cross (like *he le**er ‘*’, for example), would s*rip *hem off *heir fai*h.

So wha* would be *he mos* obvious solu*ion *o *he problem? Wipe ou* all public displays of *he cross and every*hing *ha* resembles i*. Problem solved.

[This article was originally published on English.AstroAwani.Com]

Pakchic Says: Try these 5 tips to persuade your child to take her medicine



Pakchic says: Try these 5 tips to persuade your child to take her medicine
By Zan Azlee

I used to hate taking medicine when I was little. I remember when my father would have to literally pin me down while my mother poured those disgustingly colourful liquid into my mouth.

And when I was a bit older and had to take pills if I got ill, I would actually spit it out into the water in my mug and then showing my mother my empty mouth as if I had swallowed it.

Devious, I know!

More than 30 years later I get a taste of my own medicine as it is now my turn to be a parent who has to face the extremely difficult task of trying to persuade my child to swallow hers.

But I think I have managed to learn a few tricks to help make things a little easier. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still an incredible challenge. But at least it makes it seem slightly possible.

1. Make it into a game

Pretend like the medicine in the spoon is like an aeroplane flying into a tunnel which is your child’s mouth. Yeah right! This only works about 0.00003% of the time.

2. Lie to her and say that the colourful medicine is really liquid candy

This one will either be a big failure (your child spits it out of her mouth and into your face) or a big success (she gets caught by surprise and swallows it).

But this only works once because little kids are extremely intelligent and they won’t trust you again when you try the same trick twice. Fool me once, shame on you… blah blah blah.

3. Mix the medicine with her milk or food

This method actually has a very high and consistent success rate. The only problem with this is that there will be a risk that your child doesn’t finish her meal.

If this happens, then your child won’t get the full dosage she needs to recover. This is especially not good for antibiotics because these need to be completed to work.

4. Talk and reason with your child

This is the best method a good and sane parent should use. But if you have in your hands a normal and healthy toddler, then this method will most probably won’t work.

They may understand why they have to take the medicine, but their passion and commitment toward their own reason to not take it (ie: it taste like poo!) will beat all your logic and reasoning.

5. When all else fails, pin the little rascal down!

Enough said!

But jokes aside, you can try all the methods above, or even anything else you can think of that I haven’t mentioned, and see what suits your child best.

It may take a few days, or like in my case, years (and still unsuccessful!). But at the end of the day, parenting is really a big experiment and you just need to be patient and try your best.

Good luck!

[This article was first published at MakChic.Com]

Digital radio and podcasts: Is FM radio dead?

(Pic from

It seems that aside from television going all digital and being overtaken by online platforms, radio has also been slowly going down that highway. The popularity of podcasts has been rising, especially in the United States, and we know that what happens there will usually catch on in Malaysia as well (albeit a little late!).

Recently, an article on Gizmodo highlighted that a faraway fairy land called Norway will be the first country to turn off FM radio in 2017. Their Ministry of Culture announced this as they are fast preparing to transition towards digital radio.

In Southeast Asia, countries like Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and, of course, Malaysia have already been testing digital radio (Digital Audio Broadcasting – DAB). But there are no clear indications as to when FM would be totally turned off.

In the meantime, podcasts are MY favourite audio platform and I’ve been a big fan of a few which I think all of you need to listen to. I repeat… NEED TO LISTEN TO! They’re all non-fiction storytelling-centric…. my cup of tea!

1. This American Life – This American radio show has been around for years but is now available for the whole world to listen to now.

2. Radiolab – Freaking awesome audio design complementing great storytelling!

3. The Moth – Simple straight-up people just orally telling stories that have happened in their lives.

4. Risk! – It’s kind of like The Moth… but on really dangerous narcotics!!

5. Freakonomics – Not at all boring like their books!

6. WTF with Marc Maron – Failed comedian who started a podcast which is now one of the leading interview-based podcasts in America.

Oh… and I don’t download these podcasts. I use the Stitcher app on my smart phone.

And if you want to listen to the podcasts that my brother, Aizyl Azlee and I do, go lah (we host two… one on media and socio-politics called THE FAT BIDIN PODCAST and another on films called THE FAT BIDIN FILM CLUB)!!

TV news and content needs social media to survive

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More people go online than they watch TV for news and content. I challenge you to prove me wrong. Come on! Prove me wrong! And if you do, I’ll give you a signed copy of my latest book, a t-shirt and a framed photo I took in Afghanistan.

Yet, the old farts involved in TV still think they are DA BOMB. Sure, let them stay in the bubble they love so much and watch it start getting smaller and smaller.

Look, I’m not saying that TV will die. It won’t. It just won’t be the number one destination anymore for news and content. And I’ve been saying this over and over again but nobody wants to listen here in Malaysia.

Dale Blasingame wrote on PBS’ Mediashift blog:

– The latest numbers from Nielsen show TV viewership amongst 25-34 year olds (you know, the demo) is down 24 percent from 2010. That percentage continues to grow every quarter.
– The University of Florida released data in February 2015 that show 83.4 percent of young people consider their primary news source as either an online-only news site, the website of a traditional news organization, Facebook, Twitter, or some other social network. Broadcast TV came in at 4.5 percent.
– What’s even more troubling for TV newsrooms? Ask young people how many of them still pay for cable or satellite. Then ask how many consume a majority of their media on mobile platforms (see the MediaShift special on cord cutting here). The answers aren’t good for the status quo in TV news.


And then when it comes to content on the Internet, I have also been convinced that websites and portals are no longer relevant. There is no one place to collate all your content for people to come and consume.

Stories (articles, videos, photos, or whatever) will now sole exist in the realm of social media. And it will cease to exist once the people who consume it say so. People will like and share good content while bad ones just die in obscurity.

So it doesn’t matter where your content is consumed, The important thing is that it just gets consumed. It can be on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or whatever (much less on a single portal!), and it doesn’t matter.

You see, putting something on a single portal and making sure that everyone comes to it for all your content makes it easy to track and it just means that you’re too lazy to think of other ways to evaluate and track your content that exists independently online.

Blasingame goes on to say:

We want news. We want content. But how we consume it, when we consume it and, most important, where we consume it is fundamentally different – and many TV newsrooms either don’t get that or refuse to accept it.

The idea that people still wait for news to be delivered to them on their televisions at 5, 6, or 10 p.m. is beyond outdated. We want content now – in some sort or fashion.

TV newsrooms can’t hide behind the “second screen” excuse anymore. They need to understand the TV may be the second screen when it comes to their content – and that situation will only increase as time goes on.


Also, the fact that TV news and content is so fixed in their ways isn’t helping at all. Just because they have been doing stories a certain way (eg: voice-over, cutaways, stand-uppers, blah blah blah) doesn’t mean that there aren’t any other ways to do it.

See! It’s an old fashion mentality that just isn’t open to new ideas and ways of storytelling and distributing those stories.

Blasingame again:

TV newsrooms have to get out of the box that tells them packages, VOs, and VOSOTs are the only way to tell stories.

Okay. Now that a Mat Salleh has said it, are you going to believe him and ignore the fact that i have been predicting this for years previously? But then again, don’t take my word for it. Go read the blog entry here: How TV newsrooms should use Facebook (and why).