Blog ban a sign of a more deperate Malaysian government?

They say if all you have is a hammer then all your problems start to look like nails.

So it is with the Malaysian government. With Anwar Ibrahim now beating at the gates the Badawi government has gotten more desperate.

First some low ranking lackey called Saiful was asked to try to frame Anwar by filing a police report of alleged sodomy. Then they tried all ways to win over Permatang Pauh, and failed. Now the Malaysian Government, through the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission has asked Malaysia’s internet service providers to block access to Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s blog, Malaysia Today.

It is an ill-calculated move because the messagethis move sends out is that the Malaysian Government is desperate and that it is now clutching at straws to try to regain control of the political situation. It is ill-calculated because in this day and age you can’t really ban blogs without having egg on your face. Even then it is so easy for bloggers to set up mirror sites, such as this one, that it makes the move an exercise in total folly.

So why is the Malaysian government so steadfast in their own Long march of Folly?

The reason, IMHO, is that they have been in power so long and created an incestuous system of patronage and servility that they know of no other way to handle dissent.

If they had any brains they would get in some really smart advisors and take on Raja Petra Kamaruddin rather than block his site and make a martyr out of him. It is not that hard to do. RPK is passionate but he is also given to exaggerations, overstatements and a cavalier treatement of facts.

It would not take much from a professional to debunk what he says. And if the government can do that they would have merely a discredited discontent on their hands, rather than the martyred blogger, angry and a symbol of defiance against a government unable to restore control in their own country.

Wake up UMNO. The bells are tolling and they toll for you.

Anwar’s victory or Umno’s defeat?

Some would say that there is no difference. What matters is that Anwar Ibrahim won the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat with a resounding majority. And since elections are a zero sum gam, the Umno candidate lost the seat with an abysmal minority of votes. Either way you slice it Anwar wins.

Not true. If Anwar won the seat because the electorate supported his policies and his leadership, then he has a legitimate claim to being the rightful future Prime Minister of Malaysia. The victory would be an endorsement of the man and his politics.

However, if Anwar won because the voters hated the Umno leadership so much that they wanted to punish them with a humiliating defeat then Anwar’s victory has to be looked at in a different light because what the by-election means is that merely the electorate does not want Umno, or at least the Umno led by Badawi and Najib, to govern them. But just as not wanting one thing does not necessarily translate into wanting its opposite, the electorate’s rejection of Umno cannot then be interpreted to mean an endorsement of Anwar’s leadership and policies.

So which is it?

Answering this one question may change the game for Anwar’s bid for the country leadership.

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?

Barisan routed in polls; what now?

The votes are still being counted but it now looks certain that the Barisan Nasional Government has been routed and will have at most only a simple majority in Parliament. The Opposition looks like they may capture four states. So what will happen next?

The first question on many people’s minds is whether there will be racial unrest like in 1969, the last time the Opposition denied the government a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Unspun thinks that 1969-like racial riots are unlikely to happen. Things are much different this time. What’s significant this time around is that the “defeat” of the Barisan Government is not perceived as a defeat for Malay interests. Even the Malays are pissed off at Barisan. Another reason is that the DAP has learned from 1969. Back then, after it “won” its cadres were beating their breasts and trumpeting their victory to one and all. Some of the unruly ones also insulted the Malays and that contributed to the racial violence. This time around the DAP is asking people to stay home and stay calm, refrain from victory parades.

What else would happen? It all depends on how the BN and the Opposition reacts to this situation from now on.

In Umno, Abdullah Badawi and his cronies will be cast out of their influential positions by the party. Who will take the helm? Najib seems likely, but in Unspun’s wilder imaginations the Umno guys might be so scared they ask Mahathir back from the wilderness to lead them again.

But no matter who takes the helm of Umno, their grip on power is loosened and with that, hopefully, they will be less arrogant and begin to listen to the People. That is the only way they can claw back to power now. Who knows? Some of them may even take to blogging (except Zam, of course, he can’t write and is a disgrace to journalism and the human race).

The Opposition will be euphoric if they aren’t already. But their real challenge will be when the dust begins to settle. The Opposition has, in the past, a habit of quarreling with themselves and partaking of infighting. Unspun hopes the Opposition can rise above their past and put changes into place that would make Malaysia a more open society and restore its sense of pride and competitiveness.

If the Opposition fails to do this, however, then Malaysia will be in for a long period of frustration as it would then be a little like Indonesia where leadership is weak and the nation lurches form one development to another with no sense of direction.

As the cliche goes, only time will tell but I’m sure we all hope for the best to come. There is much t be optimistic about, not least the ouster of the people who have been treating the rest of us Malaysians like idiots.

And yes, after all these years where Unspun has virtually written off Malaysia as a place to live in, it is refreshing to entertain thoughts of Malaysia being home again.

Unspun If that happens then

Blogger Jeff Ooi set to win electoral seat?

Update 12:35am Jakarta time – Unspun’s been just told that Jeff Ooi has won Jelutong with a big majority. Just imagine the political wannabes now blogging like crazy from now on.

Update: It looks like another blogger will also be making history with Jeff. Chegubard is apparently defying all the might of the Barisan Nasional’s candidate, the Son-in-Law Khairy Jamaluddin and is pulling ahead in Rembau. Rocky has the latest.

The results of Malaysia’s elections are still coming in but it looks like the Opposition has given the ruling Barisan Nasional a drubbing so severe that the Barisan may actually lose its two-thirds majority in Parliament. The two-thirds figure is significant because it allows the Barisan nasional to change the Constitution at will.

The state of Penang now looks like it has gone over to the opposition and blogger Jeff Ooi may well make history as the blogger who successfully used his blog as a platform to launch a political career. In the latest posting Jeff is saying that his party, the DA, has virtually taken Penang but he is asking for restraint. No victory rallies so that there is no excuse to start a racial riot like what happened in 1969, when the opposition denied the Barisan Nasional a two-thirds majority and thereafter held a victory parade, which provoked racial riots.

Several ministers have also lost their seats. They will also likely be losing their political careers. Among them are the leader of the Malaysian Indian Congress Samy Vellu and Information Minister Zainudin Maidin. Anwar Ibrahim’s daughter has also won her seat.

All eyes are now turned to Rembau where the unpopular KhairyJamaluddin, the son-in-law of Prime Minister Abdullah Badaw, is contesting against another blogger. If he loses many people will be celebrating.