Some Malaysian bloggers are abuzz with hints that Jeff Ooi, one of Malaysia’s most preeminent bloggers, have been invited to join the opposition political party, the Democratic Action Party or DAP. So far the hints seem pretty solid and MadgeP’s Lab has posted the DAP’s electronic invitation for Jeff’s welcoming party in his blog (below).
If it all turns out to be true it would be an interesting study in possible career paths for would-be politicians. Jeff was largely unknown in Malaysia a decade or so ago. Then he started blogging, one of the first to do so in Malaysia. To his credit he was outspoken, sometimes quite brave and he was on the whole level headed and fair. This captured the attention and loyal following among the educated Malaysians, most of whom were frustrated by the government’s control of the Press and other forms of politicial expression.
The democratizing power of blogs and the internet gave people like Jeff a voice and the means to reach thousands of people. This was a feat not possible before in Malaysia, where the government controls all channels of the traditional media. The government now is fumbling at how to control that which is impossible to control by prosecuting and intimidating bloggers like Nat Tan and Raja Petra Kamaruddin.
Jeff has been very successful as a blogger and Unspun believes his site receives tens of thousands of hits per day. It will be instructive to see, however, whether he can translate his skills as an outspoken blogger into those of a politician’s. The two skill sets are worlds apart and on can only wish Jeff well. it will not be an easy ride though, especially as a politician for the opposition. The government will hassle and intimidate and within the DAP there is petty politics to contend with and turf wars to wage.
Time, as usual will be the final arbiter of whether Jeff succeeds but in the meantime, Jeff may have blazed another path – this time for bloggers to enter politics.