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3/12/2008

Increasing relevance of Cyberspace

The Malaysian GE has shot cyberspace into the limelight. Many claimed credit should go to cyberspace for breaking the govt's stranglehold on one sided reporting in favour of the BN. And cyberspace came to the rescue to provide an alternative view that the people had been deprived of. Below are some comments which I extracted from The Straits Times by Jeremy Au Yong. Said the site's owner Raja Petra Kamarudin: 'Traffic went up so high that I could not get on to update the site.' The massive visitor numbers put up by both websites, gave one of the clearest indications yet, of just how much the Malaysian public have been turning to alternative media for its political news. With opposition parties feeling shut out of traditional news media, they turned to the Internet to air their views. And it seems many Malaysians follow them there. Said Mr Premesh: 'The alternative media has broken the monopoly of the government on the media and provided a platform for information distribution. It gave a platform for people not in power.' And some now say, cyberspace was where the recent election was lost. Mr Tony Pua, a Democratic Action Party candidate who made his name as a blogger, said the Internet played a pivotal role in informing people about the issues. Although he admitted that he was surprised at how effective it turned out to be. 'The Internet may be more instrumental than people thought it would be. This was not expected by anyone,' he said. And no one was caught more off-guard than the government, said Mr Premesh: 'They thought it wouldn't reach beyond the segment of the community that had Internet access. They didn't consider the spillover effect. 'If you had gone to a rally, you would have seen that the people are well aware of the issues, issues that were only broadcast on alternative media. The Internet fed the information into a certain part of the community, and it spread from there.' He referred to stories like the alleged links between murdered Mongolian model Altantunya Shaariibuu and Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, as well as the judiciary scandal involving Datuk VK Lingam. Raja Petra felt that the Internet's biggest contribution was in getting the middle class to the ballot booths. 'Alternative media cured the apathy the middle class has. They were no longer saying: 'Let's not bother.' Suddenly, it was let's go and give the opposition a chance,' he said.

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