What role did bloggers play in Malaysian polls?

The Barisan Nasional has suffered its most serious setback and humiliation in 50 years at Saturday’s general election.The opposition has triumphed with unqualified success, capturing 5 key states and confining the BN win to a simple majority instead of its traditional two-thirds plus in Parliament.There is no question that bloggers played a part in the BN’s debacle. They have been vocal, defiant and exposed matters that would otherwise have been swept under the carpet by the mainstream media. and Jeff Ooi made history of sorts by bcoming the first Malaysian politician to have come up from the bogosphere.The bloggers, understandably, have begun congratulating themselves. Marina Mahathir’s posting, clipped below is one example.
clipped from rantingsbymm.blogspot.com

The Day After…

And how the mighty have fallen…! Could anyone have predicted the fall would be this far?
I’m so tired right now from staying up watching the extremely slow results. So won’t say much right now til my head is clear.

But bloggers and netizens, you can pat yourselves on the back because anyone who says the Net and blogs would have no effect on this election obviously didn’t know what they were talking about! 😀

  blog it

Another comes from Rocky’s Bru who posted about how even Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad acknowledged the contribution by bloggers:

Dr M: Thank you, bloggers

This morning, after telling Pak Lah to take responsibility for the BN’s heavy losses in yesterday’s general election, Dr Mahathir said while we shook hands: “Someone told me that we should thank bloggers … I don’t know for what.” He said it with a cheeky smile.

A lady blogger behind me managed, “You’re welcomed”.

All this is understandable but does not quite answer the question of what was the actual contribution of bloggers to the extent of the BN defeat. Answering this question is important because it helps resolve the debate on whether blogging is confined only to the chattering masses (as the BN contended) or that it goes beyond the internet, through word of mouth and other social interaction.

This is a job perhaps for some enterprising social scientist but since Unspun is in the habit of throwing his two sen worth unsolicited, here goes some postulating:

The real influence of bloggers was in giving voice, for the first time, to dissenting voices on racial issues and rage against the status quo, two traditionally taboo subjects in the mainstream media.

Blogs allowed malaysians, for the first time, to discuss openly about racial issues. And gueswhat happened? A lot of Malays and non-Malays fund that they weren’t so different in their viewpoints. Unspun remembers the time when the Malay psyche was held as something mysterious and inaccessible to non-Malays. Non-Malays had the impression that almost all Malays were sensitive to this topic and did not want to talk about it. The blogosphere allowed conversations to happen on racial issues and what they found was that they were Malaysians at heart and many of th Malays are actually against affirmative action, even though it benefits their race (actually ethnic group).

The other important effect of blogging, IMHO, is that for the first time it allowed Malaysians to talk back and take on the Ministers and the powers that be. For the first time, Malaysians had a forum to criticize their Ministers and confront them in a no-holds barred conversation on thier actions and words.

This became very important because the Ministers, so cocooned by years of being in power, were totally inapt to confront this development. They were so used to controling what were until now the only means of mass communications, the mainstream media, that they made thing worse for themselves by overreacting or acting inappropriately when faced with this new strange beast. The result is that they increased their unlikeability factor.

Information Minister Zainudin Maidin’s YouTube videos of his interview with Al Jazeera TV after the Hindraf rally made him the laughing stock of the country.

All this, however, applies to blogs influencing those with access to the internet. Unspun is really interested to hear from those on the ground how the influence of the blogosphere spreads to those without internet access in the rural areas. Do blog postings get printed and spread as photocopies? Are videos downloaded onto handphones and shown around in the kampungs?

One thought on “What role did bloggers play in Malaysian polls?

  1. Friends, there are many things which get disseminated when one finds it on the net. To begin with, people sit over their teh-tariks and discuss the issues. It sparks conversations which would not normally see the light of day. Stranger cower around you at cybercafes, and wifi hotspots, should you happen to have your laptop jacked into the net. One such site, was the Khairy Video (son-in-law of Badawi) which is allegedly showing him being “devoured” by a delicious “ah moi”.


    Surprisingly, this came out circa 10am the day before the elections. Apparently some UMNO people were trying to out him out of the political scene. Whichever the case, it’s been on the net for days now.

    What I’d like to know is who was operating the camera? And don’t people care if someone else is watching your “love-making” pleasures while holding a camera? The camera was tripod mounted, so obviously it was easy to spot this tripod in the love nest, and in the 10th of 12th second, there was a jerky “pan”. Definitely proof of someone else operating the camera. Any thoughts?


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