Tifatul, Fanatic Non-Hand-Shaker, Wants ‘Control’ of Indonesia Blogging

Bsinis Indonesia (along with many other news agencies here) reports that the notorious PKS fanatic  Tifatul Sembiring, Minister of Communications in President SBY’s Government, wants to ‘control’ the social media here.

He made his ambition plain at the opening of the roadshow ‘Healthy and Safe Internet Use’ in the posh Jakarta area called Menteng, earlier today.


Tifatul, famed for his ‘non-handshake’ with Michelle Obama last year, (and for those pinko readers who say I go too far with my use of the term ‘shariah-freak,’ what could be more freaky than reluctance to shake somebody’s hand because she’s a woman?) spoke of the rapid development of the internet, Indonesia now with up to 45 million users.

But while he seemed pleased at that, he singled out sites used, which were ‘widely abused by things that are negative.’ “Many such sites exist that are useful…but the Internet is like a knife, when used for positive things, it will be useful, but if negative, it can be damaging. We have been through reforms, but sometimes that’s bent reform, like many Internet cafés which provide negative things.” 

‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me?”

Tifatul of course cited porn-sites, but given his affiliation with the PKS, the Muslim Brotherhood-modelled Prosperous Justice Party ( the strongest Islamist party in Indonesia) his interest in getting his hands on the internet is alarming. 

Indeed, he  actually explained his fear of a free internet by way of reference to “Tunisia and Libya, which failed in controlling the social media like Facebook and Twitter, so that their countries experienced upheaval.”

Now we’re talking. Or maybe he just talked too much, a failing of his that has oftimes been noted, and given the game away. Does he actually mean he regrets what happened in Egypt, where his pals in the MB have benefited greatly from the ‘upheaval?’ Is he a Ghadaffi sympathiser? Is he saying that the fall of the authoritarian Tunisian regime is bad news?

Probably not, but outlandish though his pronouncements sometimes are, he’s not a moron. He IS recognising that an active and unfettered internet, bloggers galore, would be a thorn in the flesh of a shariah-freak state. And rest assured, readers, a shariah-freak state is exactly what Tifatul and the PKS would like to see in Indonesia. 

Naturally, his urge to shackle social media, which includes blogs like ours, at once provoked both oppostion and even ridicule.  Detik.com quotes Tjipta Lesmana, a political communication expert, as describing Tifatul’s words as “It’s nonsense to think that social media can be controlled. This may be Tifatul’s personal view or the President’s. If the latter, SBY should not be afraid. If he is, there’s something wrong in the government.’ 

Communications Minister with his President

Tjipta makes the obvious point that new media and social media should only be feared by authoritarian or abusive governments. Unlike mainstream media, the public can, through social media, get hold of information on misuse of government power without exposing themselves to threats.

Fair enough.

Mind you, bloggers like me, who put their names on their blogs, presumably run certain risks as well. Frankly, though, I prefer to be identified as a source of resistance to evil-doers. Some expat bloggers, who spend much time abusing anyone to the right of Jane Fonda, are gutless, hiding perpetually behind imbecilic pseudonyms.

Hopefully, however, even they will speak up on this latest menace to freedom, with its unsavoury echoes of the PC assaults on Canadian blogs and the Obamaniac plans to interfere in American media liberties.