Q: The new media has exploded. Are you going to engage the bloggers at all?First and foremost, congratulation to YB Ahmad Shabery Chik for your appointment as Information Minister. I hope you will bring a new life and be more receptive to the more open and new reality of the virtual side of Malaysia.
A: Well, I wish I could see them. But I don't know how many there are. Bloggers can be local and global. They can be everywhere and they emerge every day. They are important. In this explosion of information technology, everywhere is the centre of information. And people are free to express what they think. There is the good and bad about that. I wish we can sit down and talk to them and think openly what's best for the country. That's the bottom line.
The archaic method of the past to block information is long gone. Gone are the days where newspaper is the most reliable source of news and information. Gaining influence is about winning the heart and mind of the people and it is now about winning their intellect too. I hope you are more eloquent and clear in both English and Malay than the last Information Minister:).
To answer your comment, where are we?
Let me tell you. We, the Socio-political bloggers, are agglomorated at my SoPo Sentral of Malaysia ("SoPo Sentral") blog. I can lay claim as the largest list of Malaysian socio-political bloggers (sopo).
In addition, I believe the blog's name and image reflects itself as the "Sentral Station" that is the meeting point of all "train" to take us to the sopo, including the directory of non English and non Malay blogs. Due to my limitation in languages other than English and Malay, I did not include the non English and non Malay language blogs. Nevertheless, links to the Chinese and Indian bloggers directory are provided.
SoPo Sentral attempts to list all Malaysian blogs that covers the area of politics, economics and society. Despite being an "orang UMNO", I have no biasness and am not selective in my listing against any particular political party, race, or ideology.
Generally, there are far more political blogs than dedicated blogs on economics, social, public interest, human rights, law, and other issues. While it reflects the Malaysian bloggers conciousness on politics, more dedicated blogs with a niche area of coverage should certainly be welcomed.
Since political parties, particularly the Federal level oppositions, are big users of Internet portals and blogs, a dedicated section was recently created for the websites and blogs of politicians, political parties, and their division and branches. Barisan Nasional parties are clearly far behind in this area of communication. They should buck up and not be overwhelmed in the Internet.
Since some blogs are partially sopo, meaning it covers religion, film, education and other areas but touch base on national issues, these blogs are categorised under p-SoPo.
SoPo Sentral attempts to list also websites and blogs related to NGOs, Government and other organisation relevant to socio-politics. It agglomorate the various sites and blogs of free tools for bloggers to spruce up their blog and pointers for bloggers to commercialise their blog.
SoPo Sentral is periodically updated for new addition, recategorisation and announcements of activities, petition, survey, and etc.
The current announcement is the Petition to support Mukhriz. However, please do not conclude of political biasness because this is the first time anything related to UMNO is announced. Anyone can make their announcement. Just leave your message and link on the comment section.
Updating the blog is a onerous affair and getting others to help will be great. I welcome volunteers. My condition for the volunteer, who will be included as team blog, is SoPo Sentral should be free from any biasness.
Apart from a Directory for blogs, there is a lot of room to develop the blogs into a more powerful media tool. The talk by David Sasaki to All Blogs last year during Ramadhan should open our mind to a lot more approach and new ideas to further develop blogs into a powerful and effective media to spur nation building. Search for it in the blogs of All Blogs President, Rocky and Vice President, YB Jeff Ooi.
A new approach is needed to develop the blog into another media platform that promote a more objective, mature and factually rich media platform.
I strongly believed that before we can be idealistic in our practise of democrasy, we must develop the level of education, knowledge, understand the working of the various branches of Government, develop socio-political consciousness, intellectual capacity of the populace, and the right democratic attitude. The Internet can help to play that role but more need to be done to increase the Internet penetration and IT literacy throughout the country.
The Government should accept it's presence, rather than be at war with it. Believe me, it can be beneficial to UMNO if properly used. It can transform UMNO into a more dynamic political party and even enhanced its root in the Malay culture and struggle.
For the national purpose, I trust the new Information Minister can do it.
For UMNO, it falls under the purview of Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib. Before he can formulate any Internet communication strategy, he must learn English, usage of e-mail, surfing the Internet and then read my posting Cyber Denial.
Again, we are almost all here at SoPo Sentral of Malaysia!