The BN’s is attempting to expand its influence over the Internet – but it still resorts to the same old politics of control and oppression, observes CY.
It frustrates me when I try to keep abreast of the news in the print media, on the online news portals and over television bulletins. News has become (or long has become) not a means to access information and to judge but a medium for vested interest groups or individuals to propagate their political agendas without shame. I learned long ago that news media, especially mainstream news media, subscribe to such propagation.
Now, the powers that-be are expanding such oppressive rule into the alternative news digital space. What really frustrate mes is not the old political tactics. It is the same old shameful political attitude that remains intact despite the lessons of 308 – that oppression is a viable strategy to (re)gain lost power and we, the rakyat, can be fooled again in the name of kestabilan negara.
Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim’s recent suggestion that his ministry is evaluating a proposal to introduce an internet filter is a case in point. The aim was to block (or control?) unnecessary or “undesirable” websites to protect the moral upbringing of underage youth is a case in point (Malaysian Insider, 6 August 2009; merdekareview.com, 7 August).
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After the ISA demonstration in Kuala Lumpur, merdekareview.com raised suspicions over an online poll on the Home Affairs Ministry’s website. The news portal suspected that the poll results had been altered. At 5.30pm on 7 August, 91 per cent of 8,792 respondents voted for the abolition of the ISA; 9 per cent wanted the act to be reviewed and to remain; and 1 per cent (or 33 people) were not sure or confused.
But the survey results were reversed when on 11 August, between 6.00pm and 7.45pm, the percentage of respondents who wanted the ISA abolished dropped from 53 per cent to 47 per cent while those who wanted the ISA to be reviewed and remain rose from 47 per cent to 53 per cent. Within 2 hours 15 minutes of the same day, the survey results swung by 6 per cent (merdekareview.com, 11 August).
More recently, Suara Keadilan reported that Umno has hired hundreds of university students to form a team of bloggers to act as “watch-dogs”. Their role apparently is to collect information on the internet that tarnishes the reputation of the Barisan Nasional and to respond to or attack such information to maintain public confidence in the BN (merdekareview.com, 14 August).
These examples are just the tip of an iceberg suggesting that that information technology has become a viable tool for the BN (as well as for Pakatan Rakyat) to control alternative voices.
Has the BN learned its lessons? I guess it has. The BN’s is attempting to expand its control into the space of the world wide web, which it had never thought of as a viable untapped resource for it to expand its influence.
But it has still not learnt well: it still engages in the politics of control and oppression via digital space – perhaps the same old shameful politics of attempting to control our ideas in the name of kestabilan negara.
Rakyat Malaysia, what’s your “imagined” (to borrow Benedict Anderson’s concept) kestabilan negara?