by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
blogs, malaysia, politicians

Malaysian Politicians Go From Hating Blogs To Requiring Them In Record Time

from the well-how-about-that dept

It would appear that some politicians in Malaysia have gone through quite a transformation when it comes to blogging. Almost exactly one year ago, some Malaysian politicians got into a bit of an argument with some bloggers and started trashing the entire concept of blogging -- leading to some politicians there declaring that all bloggers needed to register themselves with the government if they wanted to keep blogging. That resulted in an uproar, and the politicians backed down on the registration requirement. In fact, they started to check out blogs a little more carefully, and even liked what they saw. By the end of that same month, the government agreed to set up a special government agency to follow blogs and interact with bloggers to respond to any concerns they might have. Fast forward a year and not only do some of the original leading critics of blogging have their own blogs, but the ruling political party is now requiring many of its political candidates to blog. Anyone who wants a "youth post" needs to have a blog. The guy in charge of the party's youth wing explained: "All candidates must have blogs. If not, they are not qualified to be leaders."

So they've gone from hating blogs to requiring them in about a year. To be fair, a lot of this is politically motivated. Apparently the opposition has been getting plenty of attention because its leader has a popular blog. So this is likely a politically motivated response. Also, it seems almost equally as extreme as the original plan to require bloggers to register. Not everyone should blog. Not everyone wants to blog. Requiring a politician to have a blog, even if it's helpful, seems a bit extreme. It certainly won't lead to good content if people are forced to blog, rather than blogging for a good reason.

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  • identicon
    another mike, 11 Apr 2008 @ 12:24pm

    think of the economy

    Can you see all the job opportunities that will open up for Malaysian politians' ghost writers? Sure not everyone should, or wants to blog, but they won't have to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 11 Apr 2008 @ 1:20pm

    The important sentence:

    "In fact, they started to check out blogs a little more carefully, and even liked what they saw."

    So, Malaysian politicians have the same problem as their Western counterparts. They hate what they don't understand, and will only attempt to understand it if pressured to in return for political capital.

    If only there was a way to get UK and US politicians to be required to examine videogames with an open mind...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Apr 2008 @ 2:21pm

    I'm not sure about the idea of it being a requirement, but I do like the idea of promoting blogs run by political candidates, and even by elected officials. It would certainly allow for more open communication between candidates/officials and the people they represent. I personally don't feel that there is enough communication with our officials (in the USA) these days, and I believe that unfortunately, very few officials actually make an attempt to properly represent the people in their districts. Instead they seem more interested in pushing their own personal agendas and catering to special interest groups. Official blogs would allow more real-time feedback to officials to let them know just how the people they represent think or feel about various matters of state.

    I remember trying to find information about candidates in the last election on their websites. Some of them didn't even have a website, and ones that did had either no information (just empty promises about adding information soon) or had poor or irrelevant information. And the few that actually had some decent info were usually poorly designed, making it very difficult to find that information. To clarify, it looked like some 8-year-old learning HTML for the first time created a lot of those websites. Modern websites and blogs are becoming critical communication tools in this age of information, and politicians need to get up to speed on them just like the rest of us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pete Valle, 11 Apr 2008 @ 2:28pm

    The end result will be...

    Politicians hiring yet another lackey to spit out propaganda in favor of the politician and his party. Progress in action, I guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tom - Daai Tou Laam, 11 Apr 2008 @ 7:09pm

    You missed a few important points

    1) You missed the lawsuits for libel against opposition bloggers AND blog commenters.

    2) A fair number of the most well-known bloggers decided before the last election to not only blog but to run for office on opposition party tickets. Some of the most well-known bloggers, like Jeff Ooi at Screenshots, are no longer just bloggers. He's now Member of Parliament Jeff Ooi. Others became state legislators.

    3) In the post-election dust settling, the 3 opposition parties were sorting out the balance in the coalition. One of the opposition party leaders (also a blogger) made comments that rubbed some folks the wrong way. He posted his explanations behind his comments at his blog and his readers blasted him in comments. Close to a 1000 comments in a little less than 24 hours, mostly negative. The party leader/blogger backed down on his comments to accept the position of his readers.

    4) The ruling party sees the loyalty that this level of interactivity breeds in voters and hopes the next elections don't fully sweep them out of power for the first time since independence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tiara, 12 Apr 2008 @ 8:18pm

    Malaysia and blogs

    As Tom mentioned, blogs were pretty much the reason the last election was so strongly in favour of the opposition. Two of the states that went to the Opposition, Penang and Selangor, mainly consist of urban/suburban folks who are relatively young, worldly, and tech-savvy. The Opposition parties (particularly Anwar's, PKR) were VERY tech-savvy and had been using blogs as a medium for ages. The ruling party never really took them seriously, but after their stunning loss (they still won, but not by much) they realized just how powerful blogs were in disseminating information and getting people organized.

    At least 4 bloggers are in state & federal parliament; all of them had no prior political experience, and one of them is in his 20s (VERY young for the Malaysian politics atmosphere).

    Also, the Youth party is a bit of a misnomer. Hardly anyone there is young. The upper limit is 40, so almost all of the members are in their 30s and 40s. They are not clued in to what's truly happening with the youth of Malaysia, so superficial methods like requiring blogs (will they be updated or just Hello Worlds?) are their way to make themselves look like they really matter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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