The Pro-Tem Committee
Ahirudin Attan, in his speech to welcome fellow bloggers this evening, spoke of why there was a need for a national alliance of bloggers.
Most importantly -- to promote blogging and to protect bloggers.
Ahirudin, better known as Rocky said the idea to form the alliance came about following the lawsuits against him and Jeff Ooi.
"When I found out I got sued, I felt alone. Really alone. Comforting words from friends and fellow bloggers followed. Of course, that helped. Then, Bloggers United, a virtual united gathering of bloggers in cyberspace came about, thanks to Sheih.
"But, in time, after speaking to several bloggers, I felt that we need to be a solid gathering of individuals in order to protect ourselves. I don't think anyone of us should be alone when something like lawsuits hit us.
"I was lucky to have lawyers defending me pro bono. But I'm not sure if they are able to provide a similar service if there are more and more lawsuits against bloggers," Rocky said.
He said that bloggers were not under seige yet but they soon will be, given the attacks by certain members of government including Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin. And just yesterday (April 4) Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister Shaziman Mansor suggested that bloggers register with the ministry.
I beg to differ with Rocky on this. I believe that bloggers are already under seige.Precisely the fact that attacks on them have been consistent and unrelenting.
These attacks will not cease because I believe there is paranoia (of bloggers).
Rocky also pointed out that the attacks were actually aimed at a small group of socio-political bloggers and on-line writers who have been pretty critical of what they perceive to be excesses and abuse (of power) in and by the government.
"So hanya nila setitik, rosak susu sebelanga, or because of nyamuk , and we are the nyamuk-nyamuk, they are setting fire to the kelambu", he remarked.
On this, I do agree. But what a sad state of affairs.
I believe that these "pain-in-the-butt' bloggers are the target of the attacks by ministers and government representatives and officers.
Bloggers have been demonised. Bloggers equal anti-government.
The message to the people is that bloggers cannot and must not be trusted because they are liars.
But this attempt to discredit bloggers only serves to present acknowledgement of their influence.
Yet, at the same time, the government cannot seem to be acting against just this small group. Hence the attack against b l o g g e r s.
You wonder if these government representatives are aware of the existence of thousands of blogs in this country representing a cross-section of interests.
There are many bloggers who do not blog about politics!
Some 50 bloggers turned up for the meeting. Among them were Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Ruhanie Ahmad, Syed Imran, Malik Imtiaz, Haris Ibrahim, Zaharin Yassin, Susan Loone (who flew in from Bangkok), Elizabeth Wong, Eric Woon, Nizam Bashir (who drove up from Malacca), Amir Hafizi, Rusdi Mustapha, Norzuhaira and Stephen Francis. Also there were Mob1900, QueenB, Anon fr.Miri (who flew in from Miri), Mat Salo (all the way from Kalimantan) and BigDogDotcom, Paul Yusoff and Shar101. Elviza came but had to leave just before the start of the meeting. She had to attend a wedding.
Rejal Arbee who writes for KMU and Agenda Daily chief editor Rosli Ismail were also there.
This first gathering of bloggers was held at the National Press Club in Kuala Lumpur. A pro-tem committee was elected to work towards the formation of the National Alliance of Bloggers.
And what do you know : our two blog brothers -- Rocky and Jeff Ooi - who are being sued for defamation have been elected pro-tem president and vice-president respectively. But, here's the full list:
President: Ahirudin Attan
Vice President : Jeff Ooi
Secretary: Nuraina Samad
Treasurer: Tony Yew
Council Members: Patrick Teoh, Bernard Khoo, Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz, Syed Jamal Al-Idrus, Elizabeth Wong, Rajahram Ramalingam, Annuratha K, Ami Husni and Soon Li Tsin.
The pro-tem committee will meet soon to draw up the Constitution, identify sources of funding, and submit the necessary papers for the Registrar of Societies.
The initial address for the Alliance is the office of Malaysiakini, the on-line news portal. Tea was subsidized by a Datuk blogger.
Click here for m-Star's report.