Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Letting go

Let goA person’s true colours are always shown within time. You may be fooled for the moment, but patience is a virtue that reveals all.

As I scroll through Facebook/Twitter, many of my friends in Malaysia (and the greater Malaysian diaspora) are calling for change. But there are always a few that oppose this. (note that I have no beef with one’s political choice; I just want to look beyond the surface.)

You dig deeper and you understand why. They may not be cybertroopers (who likely come on with alter egos), but these are the cronies of the system. They have benefitted from government work & contracts. They feel entitled to defend because they’ve paid their dues (the customary bribes, entertainment, etc.). As long as the regime stays in power, they can always use the clout they’ve earned defending the regime to gain more contracts.

They pretend to play devil’s advocate. They engage. They intend to waste time by riding on a purportedly high horse. They are trolls. They deliberately anger. They break the normal flow of discussion. They are deliberately annoying for the sake of being obnoxious. They are the agent provocateurs of today. Don’t feed the trolls.

If the regime can throw USD$390k to a foreign journalist, imagine the value of the contracts these people have benefitted from. I’m willing to bet at the very least USD$700k-2million in terms of value (less post bribes, entertainment, etc.). 

So no matter who wins in the thirteenth general election, I and others have seen the true colours of many reveal themselves. I’ve always believed in the expression, “Birds of a feather flock together”. If anything, I for one know whom I associate with, going forward. Let go of toxic associations.

UNDILAH or Malaysians should vote in elections

Malaysia does not have compulsory voting for all citizens (like Australia does). It would make absolute sense especially since Malaysia is a democracy, but ever since independence we’ve only had one ruling coalition. Malaysia is a great country, but it can do with a lot of improvements. Everyone voting will help reboot her.

Pete Teo came up with UNDILAH. That loosely translates to “vote-lah”. It is an awesome video. Following @reg2vote (site) will help you see where you can register as a voter. Registering is only half the battle — going to the polling stations when the time comes is going full circle.

Watch the video embedded below. Or click here.


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.

Why politicians should use Twitter

Yesterday, local politician, Khairy Jamaluddin was given some advice about his usage of Twitter, from a senior media figure:

has been given unsolicited advice by a senior media figure to stop tweeting if I want to be taken seriously as a politician. :(

Khairy is not just any ordinary politician. He’s young (33), the leader of UMNO Youth (the youth organisation for the largest political party in Malaysia, that creates the majority of the component party Barisan Nasional), overseas educated from young, and seems like a smart chap. He’s tomorrow’s leader. He’s got a pretty lengthy Wikipedia entry, if you want to know his credentials.

The media in Malaysia has painted nothing but a fairly negative picture of Khairy. When his father-in-law was the Prime Minister, he was widely criticised. When his father-in-law left, the current Prime Minister decided not to pick him for a position in the Cabinet, despite being the leader of the UMNO Youth (first in history, I believe). So to be fair, I myself have never held Khairy in high regards.

OK, let’s go back to the fact that Khairy is young. And he’s the leader of the young guns (aka future voters). So he’s more versatile to adopting to the communication mediums of the young. And that’s something the rest of his archaic party members just don’t seem to get.

Thanks to Twitter, I’ve seen the human-side of Khairy. He appeals to me more as a politician now. In fact, if more from his party do that (and more importantly, do it correctly), there’s going to be a swing to getting more people voting for the Barisan Nasional.

Politicians have never really been very accessible. With Twitter, even though Khairy only follows 55 people, he has 2,589 followers. Why? He reads his @reply queue. He occasionally responds to them (in a very politically correct fashion — he never engages in anything that may seem detrimental quite naturally). So even if he doesn’t respond, you know he’s reading your comments. So you can choose to be snarky, you can choose to have your own opinions, and he’s going to read them (short of him blocking you).

Anyway, back to the point. I take Khairy more seriously as a politician because he tweets. Another Twitter user @kamal, basically said: “Fox Communications is just being a spoiled sport you are handling your own PR”. That could very likely be it. Eight minutes later, Khairy tweeted: “Notwithstanding +ve tweet replies from tweeps, KJ is re-evaluating tweet career in case “seriousness” is KPI at next reshuffle. :p”. Good to note that people told him to continue using the social medium, known as Twitter.

Oh, and I’m young. The other youngsters aren’t bothered about listening to government propaganda. They’re getting information off the Web. They want to be interacted with. Perils of the Gen Y voter, eh? And Khairy understands them… because he himself is a Gen Y voter (I should think).

Kudos Khairy. Continue Tweeting. Continue utilising social media. And good luck in your political career.

For those interested, I’ve started a list with regards to Politicians in Malaysia Using Social Media. Its far from complete, but you can help!

Suara Keadilan and Harakah banned but still online

The Home Ministry has decided to censor opposition newspapers like Harakah (by PAS) and Suara Keadilan (by Keadilan/PKR?) for a period of three months, with immediate effect, since their reporting is “wrong, sensational and sensitive in nature”. Malaysiakini also reports that DAP’s Rocket is having issues renewing its annual publishing permit, as well.

Why do I get the feeling that its just another slap in the face for the BN-led government. After all, before this hoopla, I’d have never read these dailies. I probably still wouldn’t.

However, if you did, there’s a good chance you’re going to read them online. HarakahDaily.Net and Suara Keadilan are all online, and free for all to read. The latter even comes with an RSS feed. DAP’s Rocket doesn’t seem to be online yet, but Lim Kit Siang himself is an active blogger.

The BN-led government will retort saying “but everyone reads it in print” (which is what they can control). Nay. Now, those that don’t get the print versions, will get information from their friends that read the online versions. Soon, you’ll get a scenario like Chinese whispers, which will probably only anger more people.

Malaysian politicans need to focus on the economy, not power plays

So, I don’t read dead tree newspapers (dislike newsprint, think I get more unbiased news online, anyway), but I wish I had got The Star from a few days ago. Why?

Because Anas Zubedy published an amazing ad. He spent about RM40,000 on it. The gist of the message?

Please stop the power chase, call for a truce and focus on the economy.

Malaysia is about the only country that seems to focus largely on political power plays in this time of day. Every other country has a news service and a government that focuses on the economy. Our economic news seems to hardly cover the mainstream — lowering interest rates, losing value to the USD, job loss, and more. Politics though, still the focus.

Stop the fighting. Its childish. We didn’t elect a government to lead us into more screwups. Fix the economy. If you’re Malaysian, read the ad. If you’re not, realise that we might say we’re “Truly Asia” and multicultural, but that’s just on the surface — finding a “Malaysian” is hard (note: I feel for Zubedy, because I too like to call myself Malaysian — but I’m a rare breed), so maybe you’ll get a true picture from reading the ad.

And if you want to know more about this colourful character, there’s an interview with Zubedy, where he focuses and strives on unity. We need more forward-thinking Malaysians like Zubedy. We need Malaysians, period (you know, stop focusing on racial lines — stop race based parties, etc.).