TV SMITH's Dua Sen: Shaken But Stirred
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


by TV Smith

Blogger Jeff Ooi survived a vicious war of attrition, shaken but stirred. His detractors often accused him of committing journalism and narcissism, in a single breath. To his many readers, he is their fellow underdog, turned ferocious watchdog. The man himself is soft spoken and mild-mannered in real life; almost the opposite of his 'blazing guns' online persona. Last week, he agreed to an exclusive interview on the condition that I publish it verbatim...

Let's cut to the chase Jeff, everybody wants to know this: Is the ceasefire negotiated by proxies from both sides?

No such thing as negotiation by proxies, after all I am just a blogger, not a political luminary. What happened was, after the wild accusations, common decency prevailed.

As a result of you not locking your house properly, someone sneaked in, climbed over the balcony and raped your neighbour's wife. Are you not responsible in some way?

Let's use another scenario, TV. Imagine a coffee shop with regulars dropping in to have a cuppa and they talk about practically anything, from weather to money politics. Suddenly, somebody walks in, shouts profanities, pulls out a gun and shoots at one of the customers. Who do you go after? The coffee-shop owner or the gunman?

Who's the Sheriff then?

In this case, the Minister whose tasks include overseeing online content, and he refers to the relevant law to deal with the case. Online matters come primarily under the relevant cyber law. And the cyber law is none other than the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. So he acted accordingly by upholding the spirit and the letters of the law.

That's the basic respect for our country's legal system. You must be sure, you must be fair. And our minister who oversees online content is doing that.

Reading from the press, the Minister has instructed Mimos to investigate the commenter called 'Anwar'. I think the right agency to perform the digital forensic work is NISER.

So, should anything otherwise had happened, the casualty would have been our own cyber law, that's very important.

I was made to understand that somehow the parties behind the ruckus wrongly attacking me realised their mistakes. Kit Siang said it's indefensible. But there are others who said the spin-doctors screwed themselves. But a senior editor has told me to be magnanimous.

Whatever it is, I have been requested by MCMC to assist in the investigation it is doing together with NISER. I am waiting for the reports to come. The case may only be convincingly settled after the truth is revealed. Just wait and see.

What was it like to have the threat of incarceration staring at your face? Were you scared?

I was shocked that the papers who called themselves an "institution" could stoop this low. They pulled the whole weight of the Might to intimidate me under the wrong pretense. Who in my shoes wouldn't feel threatened?

After the initial shock, I told myself to handle the situation with calmness, knowledge and wisdom. I didn't lose my confidence that Malaysia wasn't a lawless country.

How did your wife and family cope?

She was shattered. I tried to hide the newspapers from her, she went online, and later bought a copy and threw it at my face. I told her to be calm and have faith in me.

Several senior journalists told me privately that you should have given your take when approached by the newspaper that started the ruckus. They felt that you censored yourself and misplaced an opportunity. What do you say to that?

HAKAM was the first to advise me on the Do's and Don'ts if I have to give a reaction to any media. My criminal lawyer told me the same thing.

But I want to go back to the basics of journalism. The Bahasa paper forgo basic ethics by
( 1 ) not getting their facts right about how I have dealt with that "Anwar" 48 hours before it hit the streets; ( 2 ) not getting my side of story even after they have run me down two days consecutively on the front page...

But you refused to speak to them!

Why must I talk to a paper like this? I told them to read Screenshots if they want anything from me. It's that simple.

But I talked to Malaysiakini, and later to Associated Press and Singapore Straits Times. Basically, I was still talking to fellow Malaysians.

So, did I censor myself? Farish A Noor called me to tell me that his last mishaps in the hands of the mainstream press was that he allowed himself to be pushed to the corner, and suffered in silence. I thought I picked up some wisdom there.

Some folks from the media also felt that you are arrogant and self-aggrandising (as perceived through your choice of words). Are those comments justified?

I apologise, and I sympathise if they read it that way. You either take weblogs seriously, or you just leave the page. There is always a choice. I don't restrict their freedom in not reading Screenshots. They always have a choice. Read or leave. Their call, not mine.

I have commented previously that you are overly tenacious and even vindictive, in the case of one celco and a pay TV station. Were you not getting personal?

Screenshots focuses on governance in both public administration and corporate enterprise. I told (Straits Times Singapore's) Carolyn Hong that nothing is personal. If a name is mentioned in relation to any public entity that I blogged about, it's simply because he/she is the key decision maker of the entity my readers, or myself, complained about. I mentioned names, because I hoped the buck stops there.

But if you have noticed, I helped relay a reader's complaints on flight MH193. Malaysia Airlines responded by offering answers, and I allowed MAS the latitude to tell its side of the story, verbatim. The solutions may not be to the fullest satisfaction of the complainant but Malaysia Airlines came out tops for transparency and good corporate governance. At least they put an attempt to fulfil their obligations in customer satisfaction. Not just lip service. Now that's what we call a Knowledge Society. That's the only way we enter the league of the First World. No other ways.

I suppose a lot grievances from Joe Public fall on your lap when some MPs are more keen on debating the tagline for RTM. Is this something that you originally set out to do?

No, I don't intend to be a cyber Lee Lam Thye or Michael Chong. I don't run a complaints bureau. I choose my topics, giving my readers some latitude to say their piece, IF they fulfil my requirement for details and evidence. But from the topics, you will get to see how our public listed companies score on corporate governance.

I am just a hardworking writer who joins the new bandwagon of bloggers. I think PCs and broadband are meaningless if the medium can't sharpen our mind to think deeply about things we see.

So, for me, the focus is to be a member of this looming Knowledge Society. Whenever thinking is allowed, we should be thinking aloud.

Do you get tangled with lawsuits? How many so far and how were they resolved?

None so far. I do seek legal advice before I blogged on certain topics.

As a one-man and non-profit setup, is it not a costly hazard?

When I interviewed Husam Musa, he told me first thing: "You need to be brave in order to be a PAS member." It's much worse when you are all alone.

But things have changed for me. Even Reporters Without Borders is willing to extend its protection for a Malaysian blogger, who is not a practising reporter.

I understand you have a day job, how do you find time?

I rise early for the morning prayers, and blog the first drafts. Some of the news are cleared for publishing around lunch. That's about the time I trawl the Internet again for breaking news when Europe wakes up. I trawl the Internet again after work, for breaking news in the US. There would be more drafts after dinner.

Sounds like a full-time job and very nerdy!

I carry my notebook during holidays and outstation assignments, because if I don't blog for a day, many would think I must have got into trouble. That gives the misconception that I am a nerd working on the computer from home or work, all the time.

But I think I will lose the conviction when I become a 'fulltime' blogger. The sparks that spur you will not be there. That also separates you from most - though not all - of the mainstream people, who are reporters but not journalists.

I have to repeat that devious and clichéd question. What's your agenda?

Firstly, I'm fed up with the local mainstream media. Secondly, blogs can be serious, and fun. But tomorrow, I may blog about locomotives and old train stations again - some of my favourite things. Days ago, I blogged about music from Scorpions and my Humbucker electric guitar - the stuff I grew up with. Then, there's this crave for mee rebus…

On the other side, my readers range from retirees to lawyers to journalists to consultants to the simple Joe Public. So, what do you think my agenda is?

You mentioned the positive use of the Internet; can you elaborate further?

Use Internet for a good purpose: to communicate and to interact for a good cause. Internet freedom here is as thriving as our archaic laws allow it. Don't be a cyber hero. DON'T BREAK ANY LAW!

How do you see bloggers fitting into the bigger scheme of things, here in Malaysia?

With bloggers around, the equation in relation to the Old Media is turned upside down. Times have changed. Can you?

I agree that we should all move forward but is there a lesson from this episode?

To quote Guy Kawasaki; "All men are cremated equal." Be good and do good.

© 2004 TV SMITH
Link to this article:



Link to TV Smith's Dua Sen:

Contact / Feedback / Subscribe / Unsubscribe:    

Meet more Malaysian bloggers at MyCen Blog Directory