What an eventful and stimulating weekend it was.
I was at the 1st MARBC, organised by Blog House Malaysia, held over the weekend (April 23-24) at The Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur.
Among the participants were some very prominent bloggers from Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines who arrived at KLIA on Friday, April 22.
They were among some 40 bloggers from the region who were at the conference, themed "Blogging Mindfully and Responsibly".
On Saturday, April 23, BHM exco members, led by its president Syed Akbar Ali, and the (guest) Asean bloggers sat together the whole morning at the Sime Darby Convention Centre for the drafting of the 5-point Kuala Lumpur Consensus that was later adopted at the conference.
The (draft) KL Consensus
1. The establishment of an Asean social media and blogging network to promote understanding, good relations, unity and cooperation for regional betterment and progress of the new media practitioners in the spirit of mutual respect;
2. To assist in achieving and promoting the common values and aspirations of goodwill and to promote greater understanding and familiarity of the social media;
3. To promote the freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom from persecution;
4. To promote ethical practice of the social media; and
5. To meet regularly and promote the growth and progress of social media in Asean.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, accompanied by his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, attended the opening.
Both Najib and TDM delievered speeches.
Najib, in his speech, gave an assurance that his administration would never censor the Internet.
He said the government does not fear bloggers but wants to be part of them and know their views.
"I have said this before -- that the era of the government knows best and knows everything is over.
"The fact is, the government does not know everything."
He hoped bloggers would offer contsructive criticisms.
“I believe this relationship will be an important relationship based on mutual respect. We may not agree all the time but we cannot be disagreeable.
"But we should draw the line; if we use the cyberspace to tell lies and half truths, that is wrong. "
Najib said if bloggers worked within those parameters, he believed they could indeed play a vital part in shaping a better future for Malaysia and Asean.
Najib said Malaysians are among the most ardent Facebook fans – there are 10.1 million FB users.
"I have no doubt whatsoever that Malaysia has one of the liveliest blogospheres in the world and definitely one of the freest if not the most free.“Malaysians have to thank Tun Dr Mahathir again for this. When he was prime minister and Malaysia was developing its Multimedia Super Corridor, Tun made the promise to the world that Malaysia would never censor the Internet. My government is fully committed".
Dr Mahathir, speaking to guests and participants earlier said that blogging should be encouraged as it helped the people to become more involved in the running of their own country.
An avid blogger, Dr Mahathir said he turn to blogging as an avenue to air his views after he stepped down as prime minister as he had found that the mainstream media were not publishing his statements.On blogging, he said bloggers should treat the government and the people fairly though their blogs which should contribute to the betterment of society.
Bloggers should be treated fairly and justly too but if they cross the line, then they should be ready to face the consequences, he said.
Dr Mahathir also remarked that mainstream media in the country should, now and then, allow themselves to be critical of the government.Dr Mahathir is patron of Blog House Malaysia.
which organised the event, said constructive criticism should be given when it was for the betterment of the country.
He said while bloggers should give fair treatment to the government and the people through their blogsites, they themselves should be treated fairly and justly.
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