The new Information and Communications Minister Tifatul Sembiring is an interesting politician if nothing else. He was officially appointed to his post two days before Pesta Blogger on 24 October.
When the Pesta Blogger committee met we discussed whether to invite him and many of us thought that he would be too busy to attend a non-mainstream event such as Pesta Blogger.
But we decided to give it a go anyway and through Shinta, she with all the connections, we sent word to Tifatul that we would be delighted if he would attend. Surprisingly, he said he would. More surprisingly, he showed up (instead of delegating it to a director general as many monisters are won’t to do). Most surprisingly, he showed up on time (as many ministers don’t).
While in the VIP room waiting for Pesta Blogger to begin he was good natured and accessible, accepting interviews even from BBC radio in English. Apart from the fact that because of religious reasons he does not shake hands with women, he was all charm and when he addressed the bloggers, he adhered the crowd to him by saying that he was a blogger and a Twitterer who became a minister.
These days he still tweets regularly and he was quoted in one of the newspapers today that his Facebook page now had so many friends thathe cannot accept anymore – yet there were 10,000 pending friend requests.
Is Tifatul the new breed of politicians — media and tchno-savvy, at least bilingual and populist — that we will be seeing from now on?
Is Tifatul someone that Malaysian ministers could benefit to learn from?
This from The Jakarta Post today:
Tifatul Sembiring is the minister who tweets
The Jakarta Post | Mon, 11/02/2009 10:05 AM | People
JAKARTA: How can a top government official get comments and ideas directly from the people?
By tweeting, of course. At least, for new Information and Communications Minister Tifatul Sembiring, twitter is the feedback medium of choice.
After his inauguration last month, Tifatul introduced himself to fellow twitterers with the nickname @tifsembiring. He immediately gathered a large following.
While many politicians might prefer to maintain a serious demeanor, Tifatul likes to tweet humorous poems.
He is also seeking input from members of the public by asking what they want in the telecommunications sector, using hashtag #tifsembiringasking.
Asked whether it is actually he who tweets, Tifatul said, “Sometimes I do. Tweets are short so I can still write them.”
Tweets at @boediono — for Vice President Boediono — are not written by the VP, but members of his staff.
Tifatul added jokingly, “That’s why I said to fellow bloggers at the blogger party [last month], you’re lucky that a blogger became minister.” — JP