ONLINE DEMOCRACY UNDER THREAT IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD

by Faizal Nor Izham

One novel I’ve always been meaning to finish is the the award-winning sci-fi classic Neuromancer by William Gibson. Since the initial publication of the counter-cultural novel in – of all years – 1984, it went on to inspire the ‘cyberpunk’ movement in the science fiction genre, as well as the ‘high-tech, low life’ type neo-noir aesthetic that often goes with it. Neuromancer has also gone on to inspire popular films such as Ghost in the Shell and The Matrix.

But what makes the novel so prominent in popular culture is that fact that it was the first to coin the term ‘cyberspace’, i.e. a ‘consensual hallucination‘ replicated artificially by millions of interconnected computer users – which in turn makes up the Internet as we know it today. The story revolves around a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer to pull off the ultimate hack (not dissimilar from Keanu Reeves’ original role in The Matrix). This in itself can be seen as an allegory for counter-cultural movements literally taking place within this ‘Matrix’ – a term first coined by the novel way before the movie of the same name was released – a world within the world, similar to the setting of the Tron films.

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HUMAN RIGHTS A ‘BLIGHT’ IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

by Faizal Nor Izham

The question of implementing human rights always seems to be a tricky one in countries outside of the Western world. While human rights and freedom always seem universally-agreeable on paper, the West’s history of colonisation often renders it unfavourable in some countries, as it would be interpreted as an extension of colonialism and therefore the Western way of life itself.

This often creates a Catch 22-like scenario in countries which are now in dire need of freedom and democracy in the face of political oppression. Arguably, some countries consider human rights a luxury rather than a ‘need’ but in others, many of their citizens now feel their own livelihood is being jeopardised. In some cases, there is even a possible danger of nations going bankrupt altogether. In the 21st century and the Internet Age, one of the more prominent regions grappling with the contestable issue of human rights, is Southeast Asia.

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