Some Thursday ASEAN links:
Malaysia’s former prime minister, Mahathir bin Mohamad, has asked the current administration to censor sexually explicit content from the Internet. He blames an increase in violent sex crimes on easy-to-access internet pornography and said that it is “negatively stimulating the minds” of the nation’s youth.
Speaking at the National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Association Leadership Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Mahathir admitted that he was previously opposed to internet censorship.
“There was an international panel of advisors and one of them advised me that the internet must never be censored,” he told The Star. “At the time, I agreed as I did not fully comprehend how much information could pass through the internet.”
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has blocked 6,640 websites since 2008, but Mahathir thinks that more can be done to stop access to porn.
Meanwhile, the Singaporean prime minister is interested in blocking a different kind of scourge – regional haze. Lee Hsien Loong welcomed the adoption of the ASEAN Sub-Regional Haze Monitoring System at a regional summit in Brunei.
“Lee said he thanked his Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts for their cooperation for the project and expressed Singapore's willingness to work with them to implement the system and take the cooperation beyond the haze monitoring system,” reported Channel NewsAsia.
Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources added that local cooperation between farms and factories will be the key in implementing a new system.
“[It] depends on local data, local investigations and local enforcement,” he said. “The key point is to send the message to all the companies that there are many eyes watching them and they will be held accountable for their activities on the ground.”
Over in Indonesia, the rise of “clean” politicians is changing the once corrupt political landscape. Mayors and governors from ordinary backgrounds, with no connections to the military or previous Suharto reign, are becoming more and more common.
“This is the end of the era of ideology in politics. We've entered the era of competency and authenticity,” said Bima Arya, the newly elected mayor of a city just outside of Jakarta, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “The sensibility of this new generation is such that they can't be led with rhetoric. The leaders have to have skill and lead.”
Across the nation, young politicians are listening to their constituents and cutting the red tape. Projects promoting infrastructure and social welfare – such a shutting down local red light districts and assisting sex workers with finding another way to earn a living – are increasingly being put on the table.