Malaysia the poster child for social media adoption? Ptui!


You gotta laugh at this article (below from PR Weeek) as you no longer wonder why traditional media is on such a steep decline.

To make the claim in the headline that “Malaysia is rapidly becoming he psoter-child for the transformative power of social media” has got to be as preposterous as saying that the Super Corridor is a flaming success because all the tolerance in the country has unleashed vast quantities of creativity among the Malaysian populace and all foreign IT companies are rushing to invest there.

And to make such an inference on so few and paltry successes such as the one that derailed the lobbying for a low-cost terminal seems to be trying to make mountains of molehills.

For a poster boy on the transformative power of social media, PR Week might want to get off its ass, do some real howework and interview real bloggers and other social media users instead. If they di, they would soon learn that there is no stronger condidate for a poster boy than Indonesia.

This is a country where bloggers and social media users, among other things:

  1. forced Omni International Hospital off its high hospital bed when it tried to sue housewife Prita Mulyasari for daring to complain about their services; but before that raised nearly US$20,000 from the public as a warchest against the hospital
  2. turned public opinion against the national Police when they tried to fabricate charges against Chandra and Bibit, the commissioners in the nation’s Anti Corruption Agency. The force of the public opinion was so unrelenting that the police dropped all charges
  3. pushed #indonesiaunite with its message that “we are not afraid”as the top trending topic in Twitter worldwide in the aftermath of the twin bombings of the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott bombings in Jakarta
  4. got President SBY to rap the Minister of Information Tifatul Sembiring on the knuckles when his ministry tried to get a piece of legislation on multimedia content (known locally as RPM Konten) passed. The law is offensive to onliners as it makes the carrier or provider of the infrastructure, rather than the content generator, liable to prosecution. The onliners mounted such a campaign that the President chided Tifatul who slunked away to tweet another day (Imagine Najib rapping Rais Yatim)
  5. come together in a big way when it comes time for Pesta Blogger. Last year about 1,500 bloggers from all over Indonesia went to the event, the third annual event of its kind. Pesta Blogger also was preceeded by blogshops (workshops teaching people how to blog) in 10 cities throughout Indonesia (disclosure: Unspun’s company organizes Pesta Blogger)

These are only some examples of how transformative Indonesia has been when it comes to social media. So please, PR Week, do your homework and talk to people who actually know the social media scene before erecting any oster boys.

Focus On…Malaysia

Arun Sudhaman, prweek.com, 12 March 2010, 12:10pm

Malaysia is rapidly becoming the poster-child for the transformative power of social media.

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia's capital

Malaysia has endured its fair share of political upheaval during its 47-year history. Recent months, though, have raised eyebrows a notch higher thanks to escalating religious and racial tensions.

That the political stakes have risen so sharply is due in large part to the success of Anwar Ibrahim in galvanising opposition to the ruling Barisian National coalition. In this, Ibrahim has been able to circumvent state-influenced traditional media by appealing directly to an increasingly raucous blogosphere.

Ibrahim’s success has had consequences. He faces a second trial for sodomy, 10 years after he entered prison for a six-year stretch, following a high-profile rift with former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammad.

The influence of social media in sparking public opposition cannot be underplayed. In many respects, Malaysia perfectly illustrates the medium’s ability to galvanise change, best illustrated by the election of prominent blogger Jeff Ooi to Parliament in 2008. Ibrahim himself is also an active blogger.

Bloggers are now also turning their attention towards corporates, as Fleishman-Hillard Malaysia GM Ku Kok Peng.

Ku points to a campaign by various socio-political bloggers, led by Sime Darby Watch and Rocky’s Bru, which successfully derailed low-cost airline Air Asia’s plans to lobby for a new carrier terminal some distance away from the capital city’s main airport.

read more here

26 thoughts on “Malaysia the poster child for social media adoption? Ptui!

  1. Well I suppose all feedback is good feedback. The article specifically refers to social media’s ability in Malaysia to allow opposition politicians to circumvent traditional media.

    There are several examples of this dotted throughout the article as well as links to other coverage. So I do think it is fair to say that social media is transforming political discourse in Malaysia, in a way that remains relatively unique.

    However, when we write our Focus On Indonesia, I would be more than happy to get your insight on some of the examples you mentioned above.

    PS: I’d never say that the Super Corridor is a flaming success 🙂

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  2. @Hanny: Thanks for the reminder. Yes, it now appears that Sony has, after a drubbing from the Indonesian onliners, apologized to Sony AK and terminated their lawyers who brought the suit against Sony AK in the first place. Now that’s social media being transformative and of poster boy/girl quality!

    @Arun: And I suppose you are oblivious that a statement like “I suppose all feedback is good feedback” could be interpreted as defensive and condescending.

    There is no dispute that there are examples in Malaysia of social media changing the way politicians communicate. But just as a few swallows do not a summer make, a few examples of a relatively low degree of social impact do not a poster boy make.

    Would be happy to talk to you on ocial media in Indonesia if you promise to talk to people who are really using social media rather than just PR hacks observing from their armchairs.

    The Super Corridor was an analogy lah.

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    1. “The article specifically refers to social media’s ability in Malaysia to allow opposition politicians to circumvent traditional media.”
      This is an established fact – and it’s something that a lot of the people commenting here fail to understand, or refuse to acknowlege. Opposition politicians don’t need to circumvent traditional media in Indonesia, which has one of the freest media systems in the world. But I guess if you are vitriolically blinded by hate for Malaysia, you don’t bother making a distinction between the psychopathic government running the country and the Malaysians trying to change things (often at risk to their lives, reputations, or freedom).

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  3. It would be more accurate to say Indonesia has _recently embraced_ social media in 2009 (the year of Coins for Prita, Luna Maya, etc) and that social media has made a significant impact in Indonesia.

    But bear in mind Indonesia’s media has, since the downfall of the New Order, been extremely free – while Malaysia’s continues to be restrictive.

    There aren’t just “some examples” of Malaysia using social media changing the political landscape. For much longer than Indonesia, Malaysia’s blogging scene has been prolific. The recent electoral successes of Anwar Ibrahim and the opposition PAS have been attributed to their blogging and online activities (see my chapter in the book “Internationalizing Internet Studies”), because the state-owned media certainly isn’t reporting anything neutral about non-Barisan Nasional politicians. That loss was the single most significant defeat to the ruling coalition in Malaysia’s entire history.

    But the profoundness of that change has to be measured against a political situation similar to Malaysia’s.

    Frankly, I don’t think you can compare the two countries – you can’t say “Indonesia’s social media use had a greater impact than Malaysia’s” because the contexts are not the same. The environments in which that impact takes place, taking into account how much space there is to begin with for social change to occur, are completely different. I should know-I did a PhD on it.

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    1. Yeah…. you are so damn right. That’s why the topic above of “Malaysia is rapidly becoming the poster-child for the transformative power of social media” is incomplete and it must be altered to become “Malaysia is rapidly becoming the poster-child for the transformative power of social media in the politically restrictive nation scale instead of the world scale” 😆

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      1. Unlike you, I am not discussing this emotionally. I don’t have a vested interest in this topic – I am neither pro or against Indonesia or Malaysia.

        I am looking at it from a neutral point of view, not a defensive anti-Malaysian, pro-Indonesian one.

        In this instance, Indonesia is better compared to a country like India (both democracies with free media industries, and both Third World countries) rather than Malaysia with its much more developed economy and infrastructure, and much less space for political discourse).

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      2. LOL. Unlike you, who got at me on my emotionality, I supported your opinion by extending the headline. I did it correctly right? It is based on your opinion! Well… by getting at me that way I know that you are rather emotional too though you tried to choke it back. And about the neutrality… I doubt it. Since the beginning of your posting I know that you side with Malaysia. You don’t have to defend it here about that, ask yourself because the truth answer comes when it is asked to yourself. Besides action always speaks louder than words! In this case, emotional or not is not the top priority, it is okay to be emotional as long as you can bring in reasonable arguments.

        We all know that what Unspun and the author of “Malaysia is rapidly becoming….” imply is that it is within world-scale and that politically-restrictive aspects that you bring is just your own personal add-on or your own creation. But even though the author suggested your opinion, hey, I still did it correctly by completing that headline, didn’t I?? 😆

        Next time, instead of getting me rather personally, please, stay focused on the original objects…. 😉

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  4. Thanks Nasya for making my argument much better than I did 🙂 Pembela, I understand your point but, honestly, that would never work as a headline. It is far too long!

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    1. Yes, it is too long that’s why it wouldn’t work… I understand and… it wouldn’t work for making everyone (in Malaysia) happy either… 😉

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      1. See? Coupled with your name (“pembela Indonesia”) it’s comments such as this that suggest you always approach things from an emotive anti-Malaysian, pro-Indonesian point of view. You are clearly anti-Malaysia, so there is no need to get upset when someone like me – an Indonesian – points that out.

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      2. Again… you only bring in subjective arguments like “approaching things from pro-Indonesian point of view”, “you are clearly anti-Malaysia”, etc..

        But that’s fine! If you insist that I am an anti-Malaysia, it doesn’t make me a worse arguer as long as I can bring in reasonable and objective arguments.

        I’m not upset, in fact I’m really proud of myself, or at least I’m indifferent if you believe that I’m an anti-Malaysia, but the more important thing is that if you are going to argue with someone, please stick to the original issues and don’t stray to unrelated or subjective matters… 😉

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  5. It has to be a joke! It has to be!

    There was Rais Yatim telling Malaysians to be aware of the ill-effects of Twitter and Facebook and yet this article claims that “Malaysia is rapidly becoming the poster-child for the transformative power of social media.”

    Ptui! That’s the right reaction. I’m going to throw up…

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  6. This is one of the things that makes me cringe every time someone sites the MSM.

    @Arun: About the long headline… I hardly ever agree with Pembela Indonesia… But this time… It seems I will have to…

    I don’t think facts have anything to do with whether the headline is long or not. If you want to report the facts then report them as facts. As is. But that is the problem with the MSM, it’s more about ‘selling a viewpoint’ rather than reporting a fact. This is precisely why modern society has lessened its reliance on news from the MSM.

    @Nasya Bahfen: I understand when you say the comparison is not apt. And I do agree that Indonesia is better compared with India.

    But the article itself makes Malaysia apt for comparison with ANY country, since the headline states in general: “Malaysia is rapidly becoming the poster-child for the transformative power of social media”

    So is it ‘rapidly becoming [a] poster-child’? There have to be comparisons for this statement to become a fact. For people to agree they have to take case examples to see if it is true. And since you say you have a Phd, I am sure that you know that testing a hypothesis needs comparisons. If you want it to be tested with a restrictive comparison then the title must state so (as in Pembela Indonesia’s title).

    But let’s get back to the article. Is it true? Does it bare any facts?

    For the sake of apt comparisons, lets compare Malaysia to Iran. Both restrictive against their media and people. Iran more so, I think. Conclusion? Malaysian bloggers have much more power than Iranian bloggers when it comes to direct internal impact. On a world scale? Iranian’s have MADE twitter THE social media worldwide. So is Iran the poster-child? Not really. For that you would have to have data on countries in Europe, the Americas, and all the other countries. Which I don’t have. So I won’t claim to know any better. Except that Malaysia is not rapidly becoming the poster-child. If it can not even withstand the comparison with Indonesia and Iran, how do you think it will withstand the comparison with other countries? I doubt it could.

    Fact is the article was poorly made. But I applaud @Arun for engaging in the commentary here.

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  7. Pembela – I’m actually Indonesian, so I’m not “siding with” Malaysia. That in itself is a personal and emotional accusation on your part. Regarding the headline – I’m a journalist as well as an academic, and I can tell you straight away that headline simply wouldn’t work.

    Marissa – “If you want it to be tested with a restrictive comparison then the title must state so (as in Pembela Indonesia’s title).” No, it must not – not when you are talking about a media release. You are confusing a press release with an academic work. I am both a journalist and an academic. You can’t use the same principles for a media release as you do with an academic work.

    A media release doesn’t need statistical validation. But it does need a short headline.

    On the actual content of the article itself. My PhD was about how political and other environments affect internet use. Comparing Iran with Europe is ludicrous. European political systems simply do not match up with Iran.

    Comparing Malaysia with Iran (it’s simply not appropriate to compare it with Indonesia, for reasons I’ve previously outlined) as you suggest is better. It’s a similar political regime – would still show the same conclusion – in Malaysia, internet use actually created poltiical change, while in Iran it has not.

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    1. you are skirting around the issue. the title was poorly made. you have not proven otherwise. or are you telling me that a media release is solely based on a SHORT title and not a FACTUAL one?????

      THAT EXPLAINS EVERYTHING THEN! (especially my nausea when the MSM start frolicking in short and perversely mis-representational news-bites!)

      with regard to IRAN and MALAYSIA:
      Even if Malaysia had more political change does it make it a POSTER CHILD? you are not answering the relevant question again.

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  8. In addition there is another problem with extending the headline as Pembela suggested. The headline’s content (transformative power) implies a restrictive regime. In non-restrictive political environments, social media is utilitarian and not used for transformative purposes. So to extend the headline in the manner suggested is redundant, and merely an excuse to attack Malaysia because you disagree with the content of Arum’s piece.

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    1. I don’t care whether you are an Indonesian or a Malaysian or even a monkey, one can always side with anyone or anything he/she likes whatever he/she might be, so your claim of being an Indonesian doesn’t add quality to your arguments.

      This is what you said:

      You can’t use the same principles for a media release as you do with an academic work.

      And this is what you had said previously which is inconsistent:

      The environments in which that impact takes place, taking into account how much space there is to begin with for social change to occur, are completely different. I should know-I did a PhD on it.

      So, look who confused what with what in the first place?? Perhaps if you said that we should not confuse academic works with ‘media release’ your comment had gone sour from your first comment! 😆

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      1. I don’t claim to be Indonesian – I am Indonesian. It’s NOT meant to add to the argument – simply refuting your notion that I am supposedly pro-Malaysian. You on the other hand clearly are anti-Malaysian, yet get upset when people point that out.

        “you can’t use the same principles for a media release as you do with an academic work” is a response to Marissa’s comment that a hypothesis needs to be tested. She’s right – it does, in a thesis or in an academic work. Not in this instance (for a media release).

        But it has nothing to do with my earlier comment (which was not in response to a point by Marissa about hypotheses needing to be tested). For you to pretend that both these comments contradict each other is either disingenuousness, or stupidity, on your part.

        The earlier comment does NOT confuse media releases with academic work. Instead, it was a general response to how it is wrong to compare Indonesia and Malaysia when the social environments are different – and asserting that I could make that claim because I have researched it.

        Anyone with half a brain would realise the earlier comment wasn’t mixing up the requirements for a hypothesis (ie. the topic of Marissa’s comment) in a thesis, with the need to test a hypothesis in a media release.

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  9. Pembela:

    “please stick to the original issues and don’t stray to unrelated or subjective matters”
    I don’t think you have any credibility asking anyone to stick to the topic – for example the article’s original issue was whether transformative political change took place in Malaysia – yet you jumped in to suggest that if the headline was amended in the manner you described it wouldn’t work because it would upset Malaysians. What does upsetting Malaysians have to do with the original issue? You might want to practice what you preach, before trying to lecture others on sticking to the topic (something you are clearly unable to do).

    I stand by my comment that you are anti-Malaysian or pro-Indonesian – that’s not a subjective comment, it’s to be expected when you use a name like “pembela Indonesia”. And seeing as you claim that you are not offended, that’s fine. In fact, you are even…

    “really proud of myself if you believe that I’m an anti-Malaysia (sic)”

    Really? Next time, instead of getting me (sic) rather personally, please, stay focused on the original objects 😉

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  10. A general summary of the points discussed so far.

    I wouldn’t say the article is poorly made…rather, the criticisms made of it are misplaced.

    In the first instance, it’s a weak rebuttal to ask for an invalid comparison to the topic of the article. As Arum has stated, the article is about social media’s ability in Malaysia to allow opposition politicians to circumvent traditional media. The most effective rebuttal, if you find the article’s arguments too offensive or disagreeable, is to provide evidence that transformative political change has not taken place, NOT to say “hey what about Indonesia?” Social media in Indonesia is more about empowering grassroots movement and increasing political participation – not about overcoming the limitations of state-controlled media to bring about political change. That’s why any comparison with Indonesia is invalid.

    If you must make a comparison – Marissa’s suggestion of Iran is pertinent as both Malaysia and Iran have beseiged oppositions and a repressive government. Even then, Iranian dissident use of Twitter has served to increase awareness about their plight outside of Iran – but it has NOT caused the type of electoral defeat handed to the Barisan Nasional in 2008.

    Extending the headline to refer to Malaysia being compared to repressive regimes won’t work, for several reasons. First, as Arum pointed out, it’s too long. Second, it’s redundant. If someone writes that a country demonstrates the “transformative power of social media” then it’s abundantly clear that it is referring to countries with authoritarian rule. It’s not the obligation of the writer of the press release to spell that basic implication out for readers.

    Finally, I want to refute Pembela Indonesia’s assertion that I am pro-Malaysian.( “about the neutrality… I doubt it. Since the beginning of your posting I know that you side with Malaysia.”) Taking a look at excerpts from my postings, I have to wonder what Pembela based that claim of “siding with Malaysia” from.
    For example:
    “bear in mind Indonesia’s media has, since the downfall of the New Order, been extremely free – while Malaysia’s continues to be restrictive.”
    “Indonesia is better compared to a country like India (both democracies with free media industries, and both Third World countries) rather than Malaysia with its much more developed economy and infrastructure, and much less space for political discourse”
    I’m still looking for evidence of my supposed bias towards Malaysia – if you find it please point it out.

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    1. Don’t mind Pembela Indonesia… One always needs a mascot to cheer up the place and create comments 😛

      But back to the article again… I still think IT WAS poorly made…

      “Malaysia is rapidly becoming the poster-child for the transformative power of social media”

      If the transformative power of social media is the case then just say so…. I think the real reason the title was hyperbolically made so was because the article in itself would never sell to an audience. It’s too damn boring and useless. Yes, the whole Barisan Nasional in 2008 thing was great… But what changed???? Is that all that transformative power has? The changing of a political party???? What about politics itself? Has it changed in Malaysia??? What change is there?

      I respect you view, but really… This is a tripe little article that does not give any real bite except for the absurdly hyperbolic title that makes you think your coming in through Alice’s looking glass to find the mad hatter, when you’re really only stumbling on a pebble…

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  11. Urgh, what is up with this site today? Sometimes comments appear, sometimes they don’t.

    But the article DID say that it was about the transformative power of social media…in the title, no less.

    You ask what changed. The answer is simple – the very fact that the Barisan Nasional suffered its biggest electoral defeat, in history, in 2008. That simply wouldn’t have happened with the hegemony of the existing state-sanctioned media.

    You’re entitled to your view about the article and the title – I simply maintain that criticism of it is misplaced without evidence that the internet did NOT play a part in BN’s defeat. As to whether it would sell to an audience or not – I agree it would not be interesting for a mainstream audience, but it was never meant for a mainstream audience. The publication PR Week targets a specific industry and readership.

    EDIT – hang on, it seems a general-audience publication has picked it up:
    http://us.asiancorrespondent.com/socialmediathailand/malaysia-s-social-media-landscape-under-the-microscope

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  12. Nasya, you’re still skirting round the issue…

    Do you think the article aptly exemplifies malaysia as a POSTER CHILD for transformative media???

    Take out the part of the poster child bit and I would agree with you… But as is… the article title reflects poorly on what is being written in the article. Such a hyperbolic title is apt to invite ridicule.

    And again, the party changed… and? It’s like American’s creating a brouhaha about how much racism has vanished because Barrack H. Obama got elected… The policies continue and corporate politics is still a shining star. so what?

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  13. BTW… google it and thou shalt receive… anything and everything is on the internet… not hard to find…

    And also… asian correspondent is still the MSM for me… not a good sign…

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  14. No, sorry if I was unclear. Malaysia isn’t becoming the poster child for the transformative power – it already has been, when compared to countries with similar repressive regimes.

    The Barisan Nasional ruling didn’t change – it suffered the worst electoral defeat in its history. That defeat would not have taken place if social media was not used by Malaysia’s opposition – that’s the entire point of the article.

    Like

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