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Bloggers Rock the Vote in Malaysia March 8, 2008

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Journalism, News, Social Media, Trends, Web Video.
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Did the Web make a difference in the elections in Malaysia? Early results show the opposition are set to trounce the ruling Barisan Nasional as blogger-politicians poise to make history. The opposition has taken the northern island state of Penang, with blogger Jeff Ooi successfully using his blog as a platform to launch a political career.

Ooi contested a seat for the opposition Democratic Action Party, which has claimed victory in Penang, ousting the government for the first time since 1969. Economic grievances, inter-religious disputes and unfulfilled pledges have spawned a unifying disillusionment with PM Abdullah’s administration, eroding popular support for his United Malays National Organization party at the ballot box.

The blogosphere heralds a new reality in democratic citizenship as agile opponents use the Web to rustle up support and deny the ruling coalition of its near monopoly over information flow. Independent Websites and blogs such as Malaysia Today and Malaysiakini have kindled lively debates to challenge the ruling coalition stranglehold over TV and radio. They engage their publics around complex, controversial subjects in which mainstream media are seen to have failed to address and convince citizens.

Media analyst Mustafa Kamal Anuar said, ”A lot more people have become more discerning especially after recent demonstrations revealed the stark contrast between the mainstream media’s coverage and the bloggers.” Last week, the senior cabinet minister who heads the ethnic Indian party in the ruling coalition was jeered when he officiated at a dance competition in Penang. It would have passed unnoticed if a video of that incident had not been quickly posted on YouTube.

Certainly the Web has lowered barriers to political participation and revitalized civic life. In the northeast constituency of Kuala Terengganu, a barely literate 89-year-old granny has outfitted her campaign with every trick from the Web 2.0 toolkit.

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Like her Western counterpart Barack Obama, Maimun Yusuf, the oldest election candidate in Malaysia, reached out to her voters with a Facebook profile. It’s set up by her Web savvy supporters who are also running a blog for her, a Gmail account, a YouTube channel and a Picasa album.

Web 2.0 tools empower individuals and provide new opportunities for political involvement. Detractors may argue for methodologies to isolate the cyber chatter and quantify the effect of online videos on Youtube to determine whether online participatory culture translates into tangible offline outcomes. The trouncing handed out to Barisan National speaks for itself.

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1. Daily SG: 10 Mar 2008 « The Singapore Daily - March 10, 2008

[…] that would be illegal in Singapore – Singapore Alternatives: A New Dawn for Malaysia I – Webs@Work: Bloggers Rock the Vote in Malaysia – Ong Jiin Joo: Tomorrow is the Big Day! Malaysia Decides – HWZ: Malaysia BN Lose 5 states – – […]

2. Malaysia’s Dr Mahathir Starts Blog « Webs@Work - May 1, 2008

[…] posts: Bloggers Rock The Vote In Malaysia M’sian Blogger-Politicians Make […]


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