Malaysia To Bloggers: Forget The Past, Let’s Be Friends
Malaysia, a country located in the South Sea of China has decided that opposing dissenting voices just may be bad for elections.
So instead of persecuting vocal bloggers, the government of Malaysia now wants to make peace with those who shout out against it from virtual microphones.
(ABC Radio Australia) Dropping earlier threats of arrest, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition now says it wants to listen to dissenting voices.
The information minister, Ahmad Shabery Cheek, says he is keen to meet bloggers and build a bridge for a two-way dialogue between the government and people.
Last year, the Malaysian government had begun cracking down against bloggers in a vain attempt to keep them from embarrassing the current politicians (translation: providing opposing viewpoints).
But now that the previous government has lost a lot of its former strength, they now want to make amends with the bloggers they (at least before) held little regard for.
While the future has yet to be decided, the question remains: Should Malaysian bloggers cuddle up with their former foes, or should they look elsewhere? Hopefully history will record a wise decision regarding this government’s offer.
Darnell Clayton is a geek who discovered blogging long before he heard of the word "blog" (he called them "web journals" then). When he is not tweeting, friendfeeding, or blogging about space, he enjoys running, reading and describing himself in third person.
The recently concluded General Elections in Malaysia has dealt a heavy blow to the Barisan Nasional coalition government. For the first time in 50 years (they have been in power since independance), they have lost 2/3 majority in Parliament and 5 states fell to opposition parties.
Pre-election, the opposition parties faced a daunting task trying to reach out to the electorate as the government controlled the mass media. The opposition parties started airing their viewpoints and criticisms using websites and blogs . Many ordinary bloggers also joined the fray when they realised that the Malaysian public has been duped by the government all these years with their propaganda.
The criticisms were so hotly felt that the past Information Minister labelled bloggers as “goblok” (an Indonesian slang for the word “Stupid”). Many other Ministers also ridiculed bloggers with names and called on the public to ignore bloggers. Some even suggested that the internet media is full of lies, sensationalism and cannot be trusted at all compared to newspaper and television reports.
Well, that past Information Minister lost in the elections and many others. Many say that the internet media (and bloggers especially) helped to create a political tsunami which saw the Barisan Nasional coalition government losing badly.
At long last, the Prime Minister now concedes that they have taken bloggers too lightly and had dismissed their influence. Now they want to engage with bloggers.
Most Malaysian bloggers (me included if you consider that I do blog about political stuffs in my personal blog) think that this is another attempt by the government to identify bloggers and clamp down on them (which they tried to do so earlier by suggesting that bloggers need to be registered). The battle continues.
This is a long comment but please forgive my indulgence as I want to share how the Malaysian bloggers’ have actually influenced the outcome of a General Election to such an extent that the Prime Minister made a public statement about it.
Thanks for dropping by! I had a feeling the “relationship” between the government and the Malaysian blogosphere was tense, but I just didn’t know how tense!
I guess if my own government provided a similar offer (and my relationship with them would probably be considered “friendly” compared to what you’re going through) I would probably also be suspicious.
Anyways, keep us informed about what is happening over there…and congrats on the victories during the elections.