Posts Tagged ‘blog’

Evolution of expression – have blogs really changed?

Apple PensLinkedIn allows blogs (a publishing presence – read LinkedIn Builds its Publishing Presence). Medium is a place to read and write things that matter (a curated blog). Svbtle is a new kind of magazine. There are networks like Read & Trust, that eventually make magazines out of content.

WordPress requires setting up. It means you’re serious about writing something. WordPress.com is hosted and eventually you pay for it. Tumblr just got a billion dollar exit, for what? Allowing you to easily express yourself.

Have blogs really evolved or have people just found different mediums to get published? All mediums come with different levels of control. Discovery is crucial. Will end users ever get RSS or do dashboards need to be built?

Cyberwar for politicians: Overview of Tun Faisal’s statements

I read this and was really angry. Then I realised a David Arquette (by way of Buddhism) quote: “Anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” If the opposition can use new media, I guess so can the incumbents. Anyway, let’s decompose the statements as reported in the article…

KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — In mid-2009, Umno Youth held a course in online media for its grassroots leaders in Kuantan. The names of a few prominent bloggers drew blank stares.

“Only 10 per cent (of those present) were familiar with those names,” the youth wing’s new media chief, Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz, told The Malaysian Insider. “Some didn’t even have email.”

Statement seems incoherent. They held a course about online media for their grassroots leaders in Kuantan, and they didn’t know about popular bloggers. In fact I don’t really care about popular bloggers – most of them have their own take, spin it ways they feel like it, and don’t understand what journalism is, i.e. reporting the facts. I get my newsfeed from The Star (News->Nation), The Malaysian Insider, and Malaysiakini. A mix of that helps keep me informed.

Some didn’t have email? Well this is the UMNO problem. Postmen run as members of parliament. I could probably run with more examples, but I don’t have hard facts to back them up, and I hate hearsay. The opposition tend to be professionals, which is why I prefer them (truth be told, I’d probably vote an ape in as well, just for shits and giggles).

Who is Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz? According to his Facebook profile, he is the Special Officer to the Home Minister at the Ministry of Home Affairs. So he advises kris-waving Hishammudin. Its also clear he has a media unit that he’s heading with UMNO Youth – the cybertroopers.

The media unit that Tun Faisal heads, formed after accepting that “80 to 90 per cent” of those online were anti-Barisan Nasional (BN) in the landmark Election 2008, now claims that despite having to catch up to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in the “cyberwar” for the hearts and minds of young and urban voters, it is now ready for a general election expected within the year.

80-90% online are anti-BN? As of June 2009, the stats show there are 16,902,600 Internet users in Malaysia. Thats some 65% of the population of a little over 26 million people. In fact, rough stats show that Malaysia has 11,303,040 Facebook users, which covers some 43% of the population and some 67% of the online population of Malaysia.

Key points to note: Malaysians that are online, not all can vote. And these statistics are misleading — counting mobile phone users possibly, people with multiple Internet accounts, etc. Don’t forget a lot are Malaysians living overseas, either as students or residents whom are looking for greener pastures.

However, Tun Faisal, a member of the Umno Youth executive committee, believes that despite having guns primed, the unit needs the government to provide it with bullets.

Bullets. Is this cash? Is this information? Considering the information sucks to begin with, one can only presume its cash to pay cybertroopers.

“Most young and urban voters perceive the mainstream media as pro-government, so they are automatically prejudiced against it,” said Faisal. “So we have to bring the debate online.

The mainstream media is pro-government. The recent Bersih 2.0 rallies show that. In fact, its not just young voters that have such a perception. Its the adults too. Admittedly my sample-size is urbanites, and the opposition clearly needs to figure out how to get the word out to non-urbanites. Years of misinformation from the Ministry of Truth (aka Home+Information ministries) has generally made everyone not believe mainstream media.

Bringing the debate online is a good thing. Why? Two sides of the coin. Comments, people responding in the open, etc. If people are willing to get the “bigger picture”, they can. Is the public ready for this though? Not many people spend time getting more information. They take things at face value.

“But the problem is getting info from the government to counter the lies from the opposition. How can we fight claims from them and journalists when we don’t have more info than them?” he said.

I’m sorry. How can any one party have more information about the ruling party? Freedom of information bitches! This centralised distribution of information (that the mainstream media has continually executed) is what people do not want! People want free & fair reporting. All journalists present, representing facts. Not opinions. Not lies. Not spin.

BN had its nose bloodied at the 12th General Election in urban centres such as the Klang Valley and Penang, ceding its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament as the opposition took a record 82 seats and, at the same time, five state governments.

But the Manek Urai by-election in Kelantan, where BN surprisingly came within 65 votes of wresting the state seat, is considered a turning point for Umno Youth in the online battle.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin had said that BN gained in all young voter streams, signalling a shift in young voters that was said to have backed PR heavily in 2008.

“BN gained in all young voter streams, signaling a shift in young voters”. Please continue to believe that Khairy. Believing in this would then lead to complacency, which would then lead to loss. Say it, don’t believe it. Don’t believe it until you’ve bagged your 2/3rds or decimated the opposition.

“The opposition started in 1999 after Reformasi,” Tun Faisal said. “We only started in 2009. It’s like putting university students against primary schoolkids.

Please believe that Tun Faisal. There were blogs in 1999, yes? Facebook was around in 1999? So was Twitter, right? In 1999, there were mailing lists and static websites. The BN figured they controlled the mainstream media and did not need to participate. But I’m glad Tun Faisal compared himself to a primary schoolkid — his statements reflect just that. In fact, my beautiful four-year-old cousin has more intelligent thoughts than him.

“But if you look at the results since Manek Urai, you can see that BN has definitely caught up especially with young voters.”

BN has since reversed a losing streak in by-elections, and even though PR was confident of making extensive gains in the recent Sarawak state election, BN retained its two-thirds majority in the assembly.

Tun Faisal says that one of the main factors is that his new media unit was given the mandate to strategise and coordinate online communications during these local polls.

Key takeaway? The Ministry of Truth is now not only focusing on mainstream media (radio, TV, newspapers) but also focusing on providing disinformation online. With the appropriate “bullets”, they will try very hard at spending it all on misinforming folk. Be it paying cybertroopers. Advertising. The list can go on.

“After 13 by-elections and one state election, I think we are ready to lead BN online in the next general election. But the leadership needs to have faith in us,” he said.

He revealed that in 2004, he led an Umno Youth cybertroopers unit into federal polls, at which BN claimed over 90 per cent of Parliament. But the ruling coalition’s best showing ever was followed by its worst in 2008.

“The difference was in 2004, we had a direct link to the prime minister’s department,” Tun Faisal said. “In 2008, we were left behind by the opposition, and even some pro-Umno blogs were against us.

Cybertroopers are like bloggers that write advertorials. The moment they write enough rubbish, people stop listening. That’s free advice for politicians on either side. People believe in passion. You can’t buy passion. You might brainwash someone into believing they are passionate, but eventually they will sound like a drone. A robot. And you lose your voice.

“Over 70 per cent of the issues that BN has to answer is related to government. It is unfair for BN leaders to expect party machinery to answer them unless government opens up to us,” he said.

Why isn’t the government open to the people? The rakyat? Opening up to cybertroopers is the wrong move. You’re either open or you’re not. There’s no middle ground.

With Malaysians increasingly being found online — 11.3 million on Facebook as at the end of last month — and Malay and English print circulation dropping, Umno Youth sees a return to 2004 as crucial, a belief shared by Umno vice president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi last month.

Circulation drops. Why? Mainstream newspapers are really only good for wrapping up packets of nasi lemak. Or collecting dog poop for proper disposal. I can already see where the bullets (money) is going to be spent next. Facebook is going to make a lot from the current ruling party in Malaysia.

“Our target by the next election is that all division youth chiefs are on Twitter and every state have their own cyberwar team,” said Tun Faisal.

One wonders why? Every youth chief is on Twitter, yet they quote a Facebook stat above. The usage of Facebook outperforms the usage of Twitter by probably a magnitude of 10x. Tun Faisal is on Twitter, and has a blog.

What is interesting is that every state will have their own cyberwar team. Funded by bullets. How will the opposition deal with this?

I’m excited to see the fight taken online. At the same time, I wonder how fair the fight online will be. Money can buy you leverage in this Web 2.0 world. Maybe the opposition just needs to get really creative.

The Eight-Week Rule

I really like The Age’s Blog Central. I wish more papers took on new media (The NYTimes is another shining example, of a good new media citizen, coming from the old media world). The Star Online tries with the Citizen’s Blog, which is crowd-sourced blog entries. The Age explores new boundaries, topics that may not make its way to print, but can definitely be OK for online dissemination. Plus you get comments. Crowd-sourcing blog posts, under the guise that you’ll get more readership (for the author) probably doesn’t make too much sense… everyone will jump on the idea of creating their own blog, and harnessing the many ad networks there are out there…

What’s hit my RSS reader for today? The eight-week rule from All men are liars.

…formalisation of a new dating regulation – the eight-week rule – a time period “at the commencement of a relationship, in which there is no obligation on behalf of either party to offer any form of commitment”.

“On one hand, the eight-week rule offers (dare we say encourages) eight weeks of carefree fun, even when you know full well there is no future in the relationship. On the other hand, it forces you to lay your cards on the table after eight weeks, and discourages you from stringing the other person along or getting too comfortable with a person you’re not that interested in,”

Read it. Laugh at it. Realise it will probably never make a print magazine/paper, unless its the relationship column of some rag. But go on and read the comments. Some are downright witty. They make for excellent Sunday reading. And urban myth or not, this eight-week rule (or Sam’s three-week one) makes a lot of sense

Malaysia stops censoring bloggers

So, the MCMC decided to come to their senses and scrap blocking websites. Internet censorship only lasted a few weeks (read previously Malaysia starts censoring bloggers). Of course, to control the victim of the latest censorship act, they used the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA), but that’s a whole other matter.

Its interesting to see how many people came around, and the amount of press/attention this whole censorship thing brought. Here’s a quick summary:

  • SKMM not ordered to block access to website in where we find out that there are 127 websites and blogs that have been blocked for contravening various sections of the Act.
  • MCMC – how to make a complaint – this is a useful website. Why? Because you can write complaints, or fax them, and get the MCMC to respond. They have to, I’m told, so if you feel strongly about an issue, this is the right place to hit up the next time such craziness hits.
  • Dr M slams ‘blocking’ of Malaysia Today in where he expresses his disgust (on his blog, nonetheless!) about the censorship of the Internet. Quote: “… action exposed “a degree of oppressive arrogance worthy of a totalitarian state”, and that the Government would soon lose credibility and respect among the people.” Well, under his rule, I’d not be surprised if the ISA was used sooner… but whole other matter, right?
  • Reporters without borders picked up on it.
  • The Edge reported on it, and this takes the cake, because they were accusing “comments” – “MCMC chief operating officer Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi was quoted as saying the regulator ordered the block because it found that “some of the comments on the website were insensitive, bordering on incitement”.”
  • Google, Go Away! – Rocky, tells Google to not build their multi-billion dollar data centre in Malaysia. Its been a long standing rumour that they planned to do this for a while
  • SKMM: M’sia Today block order stands, probe underway in where they are deciding which Section of the Act to pick on, and where The Star decides to be relevant and links to the mirror site!

Well, the dark days of Internet censorship are averted. Bloggers beware though, the use of claims of libel, sedition, or just the ISA, might be around the corner. I love how ABC news mentions “a journalist, a blogger and a Member of Parliament” when they cover the recent ISA arrests. A blogger.

Right to act against Malaysia-Today?

Now, it seems like there are only 19 ISPs, from the previous 21.


Malaysia Today Mirror/Alternate URL Information
Malaysia-Today IP: 202.75.62.114
Malaysia-Today alternate URL: http://mt.harapanmalaysia.com/2008/
Start using OpenDNS to avoid the pain. read more…


The Star is reporting:


“Everyone is subject to the law, even websites and blogs,” said Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.

“We do not intend to curtail people’s freedom or right to express themselves.

“But when they publish things that are libellous, slanderous or defamatory, it is natural for SKMM to act,” he said in Parliament lobby on Thursday.

No Syed Albar, you are wrong (re: natural for SKMM to act). When something is libellous, slanderous, or defamatory, you tell them to remove the content, failing which, you take them to court, file a civil suit against them, and see what happens at the hand of the law. You do not censor the Internet. This is exactly what is happening to Raja Petra – he’s being charged for criminal defamation (and probably more?).

Syed Albar goes on to add, as reported in Malaysiakini:

He defended blocking access to Malaysia Today that has attacked top leaders, saying it had ignored warnings against publishing “slanderous” articles.

That’s really the crux of the problem. Malaysia for the longest time, under the iron fisted rule of Mahathir, never questioned leaders in the open. Those that did, were put behind bars, under the ISA (thanks to things like the Printing Presses Act, etc.) Of course, exposure to the rest of the world, and the Internet, has helped shape the people to become much braver.

Now, everyone’s playing the blame game (or pretending to be dumb):

  • Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum, Deputy Energy, Water and Communications Minister was not aware – he thinks they may have brief the Minister, but definitely not him. Where’s the Minister? In Bali. On vacation?
  • Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Information Minister says he’s aware but its not under his jurisdiction

Picking on Section 263, while ignoring Section 3 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998:

(3) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting the censorship of the Internet.

Also via Malaysiakini:


“The commission and the government should acknowledge that the problem at hand is the failure of the mainstream media to fulfil its duties in reporting information adequately, truthfully and fairly and not go on a witch hunt of content providers in cyberspace, which holds the only meaningful free space for critical and challenging expression in Malaysia.”

A wise statement executed by V Gayathry from the Centre for Independent Journalism.

Bloggers' Rights at EFF

Not unprecedented
The Star goes on to report that the MCMC has done this previously before, for websites involved in fraudulent investment schemes, last year. From that list, swisscashguide.com and swisscash.biz still work – so did they remove the DNS block, or do they set a time for it to expire? When such firms exist, you don’t block their websites – you take them to court for violating the Banking and Financial Institutions Act (commonly referred to as BAFIA), and shut them down, I believe.

Jaring shines thru
Its worth noting that while TMNet/Streamyx has complied (they have the biggest market penetration for DSL users), Jaring (the oldest ISP in Malaysia) hasn’t (hopefully its not a yet, I just hope they ignore the directive – a feisty Dr. MAL still being there?). ns.jaring.my and dns1.jaring.my still resolve the regular malaysia-today.net website.

The blogosphere aloud
Jeff Ooi has called for the hanging of the idiots @ MCMC. Lim Kit Siang has chimed in. LiewCF is telling people how to bypass the blocks. Daniel from Global Voices Online asks What exactly is sedition?.

If you have any more interesting links, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on this post. If someone has a copy of the circular sent to the ISPs, it will make for a public shaming.

Malaysia Today Mirror

Malaysia-Today IP: 202.75.62.114
Malaysia-Today alternate URL: http://mt.harapanmalaysia.com/2008/
Start using OpenDNS to avoid the pain.read more…


Mainstream media, always picking up things late. I’ve already suggested that they may soon be irrelevant as they’re only propaganda machinery, governed by the Minister of Propaganda (current ruling BN – go read George Orwell).

The Star is reporting that all ISPs ordered to cut access to the Malaysia Today site. Apparently, Malaysia has 21 ISPs – who knew, this? It goes on to say:


The notices were sent out on Tuesday in accordance with Section 263 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.

“This means that MCMC is allowed to block any particular website which has committed acts that contravene the local laws of the country, for example, sedition,” the source said.

Read ACT 588 – COMMUNICATIONS AND MULTIMEDIA ACT 1998 if you’re so inclined. If bored, the MCMC has a list of Acts that come under their purview.

Raja Petra hosts the site in a MyLoca data centre… owned and operated by TMNet. What’s next, turning off his tubes?

I don’t particularly read RPK, but I do find it disturbing that they’ve chosen to censor the Internet. In his usual flamboyant self, RPK says:


“The Government has clearly broken its own promise,” said Raja Petra yesterday. Asked whether he was notified of the reasons of the blocking, he answered no.

“I will turn this into a big issue, no doubt. When it is known that the Government has violated the charter, MSC will die. I will personally see to it,” he said.

Bloggers' Rights at EFF

Companies, thinking about coming to Malaysia, using the MSC status? Think twice… its starting to seem more and more like Beijing. I like how he says the “MSC will die” – the way I look at it, the MSC never took off as the then Prime Minister, Mahathir said it would. You don’t hear Cyberjaya being synonymous with Bangalore, do you? Topic for discussion, another day.

I urge more people to put up EFF badges supporting bloggers rights. Don’t let this wannabe-autocratic government take over.

N/B: Title says “mirror” as opposed to alternate URL… It makes it easier for indexing, afaik.


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