Semi-Feurdal Cyber-colonialism

Yes! thank you, Evers and Nordin [of course it is always slightly embarrassing to be posting citations, but the occasional acknowledgement of a phrase I particularly dwelt long on is quite a reward – its from a text from 1999 that was in the Nettime Read Me! Reader (download via the download link in the left column)]

The Symbolic Universe of Cyberjaya, Malaysia
Number of pages: 24 Posted: 10 Jun 2012
Hans-Dieter Evers and Ramli Nordin
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn
Keywords: urban development, urban symbols, identity, knowledge, Malaysia

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the institutionalization of the entire Cyberjaya project is the extent to which it collapses the claims to being multicultural and transnational to a much more familiar pattern of control. Almost all the key decision-makers in the five key agencies – chairmen of boards, chief executives, chief operating officers – are drawn from a very specific social group: a Malay elite that has close ties to the state through bureaucratic arrangements, business contracts and social networks. They represent that generation of Malays who emerged during the NEP era and greatly benefited from Mahathir’s later support for the emergence of ‘modern’, entrepreneurial class. Representative of a highly technocratic managerial style they are, at the same time, rooted in deeply-embedded traditional ties of ethnicity, religion, party politics and personal ties. They are emblematic of what John Hutnyk (1999) calls, in a memorable phrase, ‘semi-feudal cyber-colonialism’.

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Semifeudal Cybercolonialism: Technocratic Dreamtime in Malaysia

Thanks Kaloy Cunanan for recovering this from ascii-land.

An article on the multi-function polis in Malaysia, from 1999

Hutnyk 1999 Semifeudal Cybercolonialism Technocratic Dreamtime in Malaysia

appeared in Bosma, Josephine et al (eds) 1999 Readme! ASCII Culture And The Revenge Of Knowledge, New York: Autonomedia.

A longer unpublished version is Semi-Feudal Cyber-Colonial.

 

Malaysia

Closet cleaner: links to my stuff on Malaysia from when I used to visit a lot (1990s) – I am now looking at another proper visit soon.
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Here are my reminders to self.
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Internal Security Act:
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Prime Minister Najib Razak said last November he would abolish ISA and allow trials! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14937820
But I presume this was largely after pressure from Bersih Movement:
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Australian colonial patronage
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A short squib summary on the anniversary of the Australian Air Force base renegotiation (1988) (Australia still has a force in place there, the rhetoric of the agreement is more ‘inclusive’)
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Hydro Electrical Dams and complicit anthropologists:
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I wrote something about the Hydro scheme in Sarawak, Bakun Dam. I had a piece on this in Left Curve, in 1999, here
Update[backdate] my 1999 Left Curve article: here
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Rio Tinto
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The nasty bastards at Rio Tinto mining corp of course have long set their sights on Malaysia: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2007/08/24/sarawak-sights-rights-and-might/
Tin mining, copper etc – extending into today the old treatment of Malaysia between the wars as number one extraction site for colonial Britain. With attendant racialization – Indian, Chinese Mayal, Orang Asli – and subsequent trouble, language riots, nepotism etc. An uneasy compact of the business associations.
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Multimedia Super Corridor project.
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I followed this science park mega city development (land grab) that in some respects now exists, though in changed form.
In 1999 I had a piece called ‘Semi Feudal Cyber Colonialism’ in the Nettime Reader, but its not online http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Readme_filtered_by_Nettime.html?id=AHbSOwAACAAJ&redir_esc=y
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Communists/The Emergency.
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If there is one thing to read that tells the history in an interesting way, its the autobiography/history fo Chin Peng – communist decorated by the English for fighting against Japan in WW2 but subsequently hunted by them through the ‘Emergency’ and then sidelined at Independence, and still living in exile in Thailand. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alias-Chin-Peng-Side-History/dp/9810486936
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Bersih
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I do not have any real details on this beyond personal emails with activists. And a few squibs or snippets of news:
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Tian Chua
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Opposition youth leader now MP and prominent figure in the opposition Tian Chua, known via activist groups in Sydney:
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What else do I need besides a metro card and Lonely Planet? Also gifts for certain MPs (!)

#occupy Dataran: Mask up for Malaysian New Year

 

This just popped up on you tube and I’d like a ticket. If you have a mask, and you are in KL, this is the new year party to ring in something special. (Londoners, see you at Holloway)

I do, like many of you, enjoy lepakking at home and watching TV.

I appreciate the comforts of every day routine, the security of familiar things, the tranquillity of repetition.
But in the spirit of celebrating the New Year, with much partying and revelry, I thought we could mark this December 31 with something special.
There are, of course, those who don’t want us to speak. I suspect even now orders are being shouted into telephones and men with guns will soon be on their way.
Why?
Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power.
Words… offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen…the enunciation of truth.
And the truth is…there is… something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?
Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression.
And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.
How did this happen? Who’s to blame?
Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable.
But again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.
I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be?
MAY 13, RACE RIOTS, FEAR OF COMMUNISTS, OPERASI LALANG.
There are a myriad of problems which conspire to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense.
Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to Barisan Nasional.
BN promised you order, BN promised you peace and all they demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.
Today, I seek to end that silence.
2011 will go down in history as the Year of Peaceful, Non-Violent Revolutions. It began in Tunisia, culminating in Tahrir Square, Egypt.
Tahrir Square is now the symbol of human freedom and liberation in the 21st century.
We also saw the uprising of the Indignados, which occupied Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain, giving inspiration to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
This democratic wave, driven by ordinary peoples on the street – as opposed to leadership by elites the world over – is a major turning point in our time.
As the year draws to a close, dark clouds still hang over the Malaysian sky, no different from the previous years.
Repression of human rights continue unabated. Malaysians suffer these abuses in different forms and at different levels. It is often hard for the ordinary Malaysian to articulate and give voice to their suffering and plight.
We want every person to find his or her own voice, formulating his or her own demands.
Some of these demands may spring from a litany of injustices:
the repression of street protests (for example Bersih 2.0),
the passing of the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011,
the Lynas debacle,
the continuous land-grab of Orang Asli & indigenous land in Sabah & Sarawak,
corruption in government,
exploitation and repression of local and migrant workers’ welfare & rights,
deaths in the custody of the MACC and THE POLICE,
the suppression of academic and student freedoms by the UUCA.
And the list goes on!
So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain insignificant to you, then I would suggest that you allow the 31st of December to past unmarked.
But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me and wear you V Mask on New Years Eve at the stroke of midnight, at Dataran Merdeka, and give them a New Year that shall never, ever be forgotten.

Global Day of Action on Military Spending

Memorandum to the Malaysian Defence Minister

By Malaysian NGOs on the Global Day of Action on Military Spending,

April 12, 2011

In 2009 alone, global military spending rose to an all-time high amount of $1.53 TRILLION! Because we encounter countless crises in today’s world -poverty, hunger, lack of education, poor health care, and environmental issues – it is essential that we come together and create a global movement focusing on what IS important: human lives and their needs. It really is up to us… if not, then who? But we must act NOW!

Global Day of Action on Military Spending on April 12, 2011 has been organized to coincide with the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) new annual figures on world military expenditures. On this day, people on all continents will join together in joint actions to focus public, political, and media attention on the costs of military spending and the need for new priorities. Such events will help us to build the international network around this issue.

Join us in this historic Global Day of Action on Military Spending. This day of action has been coordinated by:

The International Peace Bureau (IPB), dedicated to the vision of a World without War. IPB are a Nobel Peace Laureate (1910); over the years, 13 of its officers have been recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. They have 320 member organisations in 70 countries, together with individual members from a global network, bring together expertise and campaigning experience in a common cause. Their current main programme centres on Sustainable Disarmament for Sustainable Development.

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) is a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally. They work with social movements to promote true democracy and challenge concentrated wealth, corporate influence, and military power. As Washington’s first progressive multi-issue think tank, the IPS has served as a policy and research resource for visionary social justice movements for over four decades.

Statement by Malaysian NGOs on Military Spending, 12 April 2011

Malaysian NGOs on Military Spending are concerned about the carte blanche given to the Ministry of Defence for arms purchases while health, education and other social services are still so deplorable. The total security allocation under the Tenth Malaysia Plan is RM23 billion. Through the years, the allocation for security (internal security + defence) has been as high as 15.9% and 15.0% under the 3rd and 6th Malaysia Plans while the allocation for health has been as low as 1.6% and 1.0% under the 4th and 5th Malaysia Plans respectively. The Education Minister said recently that 600 schools in the country are in critical condition, most of these in East Malaysia.

The arms race among the Southeast Asian countries seems the most pointless after all the talk at conferences on ASEAN integration. Even so, each country’s attempt to be ahead in the race is self-defeating.

In 1997, Malaysia was described as one of “East Asia’s Big Eight” countries devoting “lavish resources” to develop its military industries. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said that these countries – China, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia – were enhancing their capabilities in military organization, arms purchases, and military industrialization.

Malaysia’s rivalry with Singapore springs not from ideological differences but from the latter’s forced separation from the Malaysian federation in 1965, after a crisis emanating from the racial politics of their ruling classes. From this rivalry we can see how the ensuing arms race has burdened the peoples in the two countries with billions in arms spending.

Many are not aware of the rapid growth of Malaysia’s domestic military-industrial complex. The top brass of the military guard their power and privilege and this is nourished by easy access to the defence budget and the simple justification of “national security”. Today we have seen the growth of such a complex in many countries, including Malaysia. An offshoot of the arms purchases is the race to develop domestic defence equipment industries in each of the S.E. Asian countries.

It is clear that the BN Government could get away with such huge defence budgets during the last few decades because of the erosion of these safeguards in our democratic system, viz. dominance of the executive over parliament; loss of public accountability; absence of Freedom of Information legislation; inadequate separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary; poor safeguards for civil rights. The National Defence Policy is as good as giving a carte blanche to the Ministry of Defence for “deterrence and forward defence”.

The Non-Aligned Movement was founded upon the principles of peace, neutrality and impartiality to the Superpowers. A genuine non-aligned policy can therefore go a long way toward ridding us of the need to procure expensive arms.

Disarmament must ultimately be inclusive of all the nations within ASEAN. The peoples in ASEAN deserve a better quality of life compared to the status quo which is committed to an irrational arms race among the ASEAN countries themselves and deprives their peoples of valuable resources for social development.

Minimising the defence budget in Malaysia and throughout ASEAN can free more valuable resources into urgently needed social services and socially useful production. Wasting money on arms prevents it from being spent on health, education, clean water or other public services. It also distorts the economy and diverts resources, such as skilled labour and R&D away from alternative economic activity.

Leaders have the responsibility to initiate that fundamental change and involving everyone in that peace-building process. It involves overcoming the fears, prejudices and other contradictions that give rise to misunderstanding, violence and conflict. It involves re-ordering our financial priorities away from wasteful and destructive arms to the social well-being of all our peoples.

Facilitating greater democracy in our society also creates a culture of peace since the more that citizens have the opportunity to participate in the running of their society and the freedom to express their aspirations and criticisms, the less likely are they to take up arms to overthrow the government.

To achieve a culture of peace would require a profound reformation but reform we must. Cooperating in shared goals and nurturing positive interdependence can help to build this culture of peace. A culture of peace should be our nation’s vision. It is a vision that is only attainable in a society that respects human dignity, social justice, democracy and human rights. It is an environment that can settle conflict and differences through dialogue and democracy and not through threats and repression.

Social change will only happen when the people are mobilised in a movement for peace. Only such a movement and consciousness can divert the billions spent on unnecessary and wasteful armaments to peaceful and socially useful production.  Malaysian NGOs on Military Spending have a responsibility for initiating this movement.

Internal Security

Meanwhile, in some countries, they even have a debate about Detention and the Internal Security Act (which has been mentioned before on this blog, here, and in the Weekly Worker, here).

SUARA RAKYAT MALAYSIA

www.suaram.net

Press Statement by SUARAM: 7th March 2011

Mission Report on Malaysia by Working Group on Arbitrary Detention:

Implement Recommendations Now!

The findings and recommendations of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) from its visit to Malaysia from 7 to 18 June 2010 have added to the long list of recommendations and concerns pertaining to the Malaysian government’s legislations, policies and practices of arbitrary detention. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) has despatched Ms Temme Lee, SUARAM Secretariat member to make interventions at the UN Human Rights Council after the mission report presented by the WGAD[1].  SUARAM supports the recommendations made by the working group to the Malaysian government.

“Classic Cases of Arbitrary Detention” under the ISA, EO, DDA, RRA

In their mission report, the WGAD states that it is “seriously concerned” about the existence and enforcement of laws which provide for detention without trial in Malaysia, namely the Internal Security Act (ISA), the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance (EO), the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act (DDA), and the Restricted Residence Act.

“(These laws) impede the detainee’s right to a fair trial, consecrated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by international human rights customary law. They also severely restrict detainees’ access to legal counsel.”

The working group has also stated its concern on the periodic review by the Advisory Board. The working group considers that an appearance before an Advisory Board does not fulfill minimal fair trial guarantees. Although detainees may appeal every six months to the Advisory Board on the preventive laws, the detainees are not notified of its recommendations, its recommendations are not binding and they are not made public. On the other, the defence lawyers may appear on behalf of the detainee, attend the hearing without access to all the documentation, including evidence, and have no right to call witnesses.

During the press conference held by the WGAD on 18 June 2010, its Chairperson-Rapporteur El Hadji Malick Sow stated that detentions under the ISA, the EO, and the DDA are “classic cases of arbitrary detention”. The WGAD also noted with concern that “thousands of people” are being detained under the EO and the DDA.

“Systematic” Detention of Refugees

Also of concern to the WGAD is the detention of refugees and asylum seekers. The WGAD’s Chairperson-Rapporteur has described the detention of refugees as “systematic”, noting that even refugees who are in possession of identity cards issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are not exempt from arrests and detentions.

Malaysia’s non-ratification of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and non-recognition of the status of refugees and asylum seekers have resulted in the detention of many refugees under immigration laws in Malaysia for their alleged “illegal presence” in Malaysian territory. The WGAD notes that detainees who have served prison sentences under Immigration laws are often held in immigration detention centres for an indefinite period while awaiting deportation to their countries of origin.

Police Force: Excessive Power leads to human rights violations

The working group has also expressed concern over the excessive power given to the police force in Malaysia particularly under the preventive laws. The working group is of the view that the excessive power given to the police has led to their eluding the normal penal procedure for common crimes and offences. This has given an opportunity to the police and the Home Minister to detain persons without the need to sustain evidence or to probe penal responsibility. The Working group also concludes that the police often fail to inform the detainees about their rights to contact family members and to consult a lawyer of their choice.

The working group also raises serious concern about the deaths that occur during the police detention and while in police custody; the ill treatment and torture in police stations and detention centres in order to obtain confessions and incriminatory evidence.

Repeal All Detention-without-Trial Laws

On detention-without-trial laws, the WGAD unambiguously recommends that the ISA, the EO, the DDA, and the RRA be repealed. In the interim period, while the laws are in force, the working group has urged that the decisions by the non-judicial Appeals Advisory Board should be binding on the Home Minister, and decisions with regard to the Act should be subject to judicial review.

SUARAM thus calls upon the government to re-think the proposed amendments to all the detention-without-trial laws in the light of the latest WGAD’s recommendations. The ISA, the EO, the DDA, and the RRA must be repealed forthwith; the government should immediately end all arrests under the detention-without-trial laws, and release all those currently detained under these laws or charge them in a fair and open court.

End Detention of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Other Vulnerable Migrants

On the detention of immigrants, the WGAD states that:

“Detention of immigrants should be decided upon by a court of law, on a case by case basis, and pursuant to clearly and exhaustively defined criteria in legislation, under which detention may be resorted to.”

The WGAD stresses that immigrants should have an effective remedy to challenge the necessity and legality of their detention at any time; that immigration detention should not be applied to refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable groups of migrants, including unaccompanied minors, families with minor children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, elderly persons, persons with disabilities, or people with serious and/or chronic physical or mental health problems.

The WGAD has also urged the Malaysian government to ratify the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, a recommendation which has been made on numerous occasions by SUHAKAM as well as UN member states during the Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia in February 2009.

SUARAM strongly urges the government to immediately implement these recommendations and to   stop arresting refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups of migrants. The government should provide a concrete timeframe for the ratification of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees.

Invite UN Experts in Other Areas Too

While Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the UN Human Rights Council can only visit a country with the host government’s invitation, SUARAM would like to point out that the WGAD had in fact made a request for a country visit to Malaysia way back in 2008. It was only in early 2010 that the Malaysian government officially and publicly confirmed its acceptance of the WGAD’s request to visit Malaysia.

To date, the Malaysian government has still not responded to eight pending requests by other Special Procedures Mandate Holders, namely the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders (request made in 2002); the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples (2005); the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion (2006); the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants (2006); the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism (2005); the Independent Expert on Minority Issues (2007 and 2009); the Special Rapporteur on Racism (2008); and Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (2009).

SUARAM therefore strongly calls upon the Malaysian government to extend standing invitations to all Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the UN Human Rights Council which have made requests for country visits to Malaysia as soon as possible.

Implement WGAD’s Recommendations Now!

Today, WGAD’s final report is being submitted to the UN Human Rights Council. The recommendations of the Working Group are clear enough for the government to make immediate human rights reforms.  The working group has also urged the Malaysian government to become a party to the main international instruments on human rights, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, (CERD), the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Protocol there to, the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Similar recommendations have already been made by other bodies such as the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), the Royal Commission on the Police, and UN member states. As such, there is no justification for the government to delay implementing these recommendations immediately, especially when Malaysia currently has a seat in the Human Rights Council.

The Malaysian government’s attitude toward these recommendations of the WGAD will be an indication of either its commitment to human rights or otherwise, its sheer hypocrisy while sitting in UN Human Rights Council.

Released by, Nalini.E, SUARAM Coordinator