Pompous Malaysian Minister discourages immersion in Western-created sites such as Facebook, Twitter

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” – Thomas Jefferson

A lazy Saturday, I’m taking a break from most things, and I figured I’d fire up Twitter and see what’s on. Many people pointed me to: Malaysians advised against being immersed in Facebook, Twitter (a href=”http://malaysiakini.com/news/122094″>Malaysiakini picked this up too). It features Rais Yatim, being more pompous than he usually is (yes, please watch that video – its highly amusing).

He added that facilities like internet could not be accepted wholly because it was a form of business introduced by the West and “Malaysians were just users.”

Don't read newspapersMalaysians were just users. Why were they not the creators of sites like Facebook and Twitter? After all, with organisations throwing money away in the form of grants, so readily to companies, why haven’t we created the next Facebook or Twitter? Ping.fm had only two employees, picked up some angel funding, and have recently been acquired by Seesmic. RM150k for a year, is enough for two founders to hack on something, and make it worthwhile, yet, we see higher amounts of folk gaming the system. What about Twitpic? This list can go on, but that’s not going to be the focus of this post – Malaysian’s can create, if they put their mind to it. To boot, there are also funds that they can have access to.

He goes on to talk about how one must upkeep religious values and be mindful of them when using social networking services. Wow, whatever he’s smoking, I want some.

“We must be strong in our believes and culture because the identity and image of our country depends on us.

Yes. The image of the country today, largely depends on what the people say. Politicians can go overseas and lie to others, but what do people do before the want to visit a country? Invest in a country? Move to a country? They check up on the prospective new place on the Internet. They use Google search. They’ll read Google News. Heck, they might even go read Google’s Blog Search. Others will check out Flickr and Picasa to find good photos, some will check out YouTube. Others will look at TripAdvisor to find a good hotel. Others will check out the newspapers. The list goes on. However, what citizens do, is they speak their mind, when online – so the government clearly lacks control of their old one-way-mediums.

His next statement makes absolutely no sense at all. Maybe he should have spoken in his native Bahasa Malaysia?

“They are just selling Facebook, Twitter, L-Band and various other services, even through space, as a product but we do not do such business. We accept all this in a state of cultural shock,” he said.

Culture shock, eh? Seriously. He continues…

“We should not be quick to condemn or look down on those who do not use Facebook. Newspapers are still relevant, so is Facebook, but do not be carried away with everything and disregard the old system,” he said.

Of course. That would be plain wrong, and ageist. Not everyone needs to be on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or read online media. Its fine that people have a choice. Today, if one chooses to go “old school”, all one has to do is wake up in the morning, buy a dead tree edition of your favourite newspaper, read it, then go over to the boob tube, watch the myriad of programming available on free-to-air channels, and suck in all the propaganda. However, as a society matures, they do tend to disregard the old, and check out the new (for example, if I’d had followed the old system, I’d be seeing this silly media article in the dead tree edition of The Star – I saw it half an hour after it was published because I was on Twitter). Societies mature, and their needs mature, so they do outgrow the old (same applies to political regimes).

It continues, in where he says things about how one shouldn’t use Twitter, Facebook and SMS messaging for the wrong reasons. He tells us that we cannot escape from the law for our actions. And that most people understand the whole 1Malaysia concept. Drivel, in general.

Anyway, newspapers in their dead-tree form are losing relevance. We have two that are free now – The Sun and The Malay Mail. The Star has pretty much all its content online. And Malaysians can read The Malaysian Insider (Malaysian creation) for free, or subscribe to Malaysiakini (Malaysian creation). As the Internet penetration rate goes up, we’ll see more of this. The magazine industry in Malaysia has been suffering for a couple of years (no eyeballs, no advertising ringgit).

So, there are Malaysian creations, used by people, where Malaysians are not just users but creators. I’m sorry Rais, you’re so out of it.

One Comment

  1. Rachel says:

    Haha, love this Colin. Rais strikes again!