(It’s been a long time since Unspun‘s been a reporter and his bahasa language skills are iffy although he understands enough to get the gist of what’s happening. And Unspun has no tape recorder so please cross check the quotes before pointing to them. Photo shows Budi (left) and Nukman in the studio with e-lifestyle hostess Meutya. Wimar was interviewed via remote camera)
Popular Indonesian TV station Metro TV this morning ran a half hour program called e-lifestyle in which three prominent bloggers and other observers commented on issues raised by Malaysian Tourism Minister Tengku Adnan and Malaysian Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin’s comments on bloggers.
Hostess Meutya Hafid opened the program by saying that blogs have become so influential that two Malaysian ministers had to comment on the postings of one Indonesia blogger, Nila Tanzil.
Her main guests were Wima Witoelar, who’s been a talk show host, the spokesperson for former President Abdurrahman Wahid and who is now a blogger; Budi Putra a former journalist with Indonesia’s leading news magazine tempo who is Indonesia’s first full-time blogger and Nukman Luthfie, an observer of corporate weblogs and also a blogger.
Wimar said there were still many people who just do not understand the power of blogs. Is message was that those in power should not use their office to try to silence critics. He also said that these people should also not shoot the messenger but to examine if the criticisms had any basis and act accordingly.
Budi pointed out that Nila’s postings became a big issue primarily because Tengku Adnan said that of the 10,000 bloggers, 8,000 of them were women and unemployed on International Women’s Day itself.
He agreed with Meutya that some bloggers posted inaccurate information but said that it was very easy to find out their credibility of the bloggers. “If you have a product and one blogger says that it is bad but 99 others say it is good, then few would believe that blogger.”
Nukman stressed on the PR fallout in the event of mishandling blogs. He said blogs give voice to the individual consumer so it is now difficult for people to think they can get away with it if they only mounted a strong campaign in traditional media.
The overall message from the guests is that blogs are increasingly becoming a fact of life and that companies and organizations had better learn how to deal with them. Shooting the messenger is not a recommended option. A better way would be to engage bloggers and put into place corporate policies dealing with blogging.
So before Tengku Adnan and Zainuddin Maidin shoot any more messengers they might perhaps want to reflect on the harm they have done to Malaysia’s image so far ith their trigger happy mouths. Thanks to them we’ve just had our dirty laundry being aired on Indonesian national TV. The Indonesians must now be wondering, with total justification, what calibre of people Malaysia has as ministers.
The PR firm that is pitching for the Malaysian Tourism Board account sure has its job cut out. Imagine recommending a blogging strategy to the MTB. LOL.