Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bloggers, Writers and the Information Minister

Nisah Haron was one of the panelists at Saturday night's Writers and Blogs: The Current Trend forum at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka along with Pak Adib (The Reader), Saiee Driss, Puan Aizan (head of the PDM), Nisah, Jiwarasa, Shamsudin Othman, and Fauzi. She gives a very interesting account of the meeting here, and talks about how blogs can promote writing in Malaysia. I'm glad though that they had an opportunity to put across this very positive aspect of blogging.

The focus of course got shifted a little with new Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek who talked about the government's willingness to recognise the role played by the cyber community in shaping public opinion in the country. That's very welcome news, and if any bloggers seem cynical ... well, sorry, cynicism has to be a blogger's default mode.

I wish I could have attended the forum but I had a wedding dinner to go to (traditional Malay affair with Scottish bagpipers and the father of the groom's speech half in Japanese!). But how sad to miss meeting some blogfriends I have only met online.

24 comments:

savante said...

Finally they are recognizing the bloggers rather than villifying us.

bibliobibuli said...

it is indeed good news. bloggers do deserve to be recognised.

Eli James said...

Ahh yes. The Malaysian blogosphere does look like a nicer place, post Zainuddin Maidin. =)

pemantau said...

It won't do a thing to stop bloggers vilifying them, right?

bibliobibuli said...

shouldn't think so pemantau. but bloggers often provide a necessary counterbalance and keep politicians and others on their toes. it also gives politicians a useful way of checking the climate. all the warnings were there before the election if anyone had actually bothered to listen ...

Anonymous said...

Hey Bib, can you remember the name of the Chinese chap with the angular face who wrote that poem about the bird ? can't seem to recall his name or the name of the poem.

Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Sharon, sorry to leave a comment in this thread, which is not relevant to the topic.

It seems your e-mail address, "sbakar@streamyx.com", bounces back with delivery notifications. (You may wish to check it out.) Hence, I am writing to you as a follow-up of our e-mail exchanges earlier.

Before going to a tour of Europe last month, I had mailed you a copy of my literary, multicultural novel, "Behind a Cultural Cage", which looks behind the cultural cage of a Chinese Indian man. Details are available on my website at: http://lifecageint.googlepages.com

Pls let me know whether you have received the copy. My e-mail address is: pranavsj@hotmail.com

Thanks and best regards.

- Pranav Joshi

bibliobibuli said...

anon - need more clues

hi pranav - yes i received your book. many thanks. i shall pass it to my friends at "the star" to see if anyone there can review it for you.

my email is sharonbakar@yahoo.com as streamyx can't seem to sort out the problems with my account

pemantau said...

So hatred is a check and demonisation a balance. There's a place for viciousness after all. Two wrongs do indeed make a right. I'm sure you must all be enjoying your newfound power to destroy people. Congratulations.

bibliobibuli said...

wow! what a narrow biggoted view of what bloggers do! i have demonised no-one. i have destroyed no-one. but i have hightlighted wrongs such as the restricted books issue - and helped to get those books unbanned. i've asked questions about government sponsored literary events and how the money is being spent. i've questioned why the results of a national literacy survey have never been made public. i've blown the whistle on a plagiarizer or two or three. i've promoted one or two authors and their books have sold a bit better as a result.

and most dangerous of all, i've encouraged people to read books. (shock! horror! can the country ever recover?)

let the political bloggers answer for themselves, because i am certainly not the one to answer for them. but i do know that they have brought to our attention some important issues, given an alternative viewpoint and provided an avenue for discussion. (all things sadly missing in mainstream media ... if you hadn't noticed)

you probably need to make some mental adjustments yourself because the new media landscape is very much here to stay.

pemantau said...

So sensitive? See how much it hurts to be unfairly condemned? But I didn’t mean you specifically. You good lady. You help people read. But you also defend “freedom of speech”, of course. You say it’s good for the country. So now you have to defend those who hate. But not those who hate bloggers, I guess!

bibliobibuli said...

not hurt. more miffed.

to be honest there are blogs which i really can't stand to read with a lot of hate and intolerance out there. but i would rather have those voices out there where i can see (and if i chose to demolish) their arguments.

yeah, sure, it's like the wild west in the blogosphere, but i see real good coming out of these freedoms and i hope that the mainstream press can be pushed towards allowing greater openness.

what specific instances did you have in mind anyway where you feel bloggers have overstepped the mark?

pemantau said...

Najib is not a murderer or a conspirator to murder, as Anwar implies and the bloggers insist. Pak Lah is not a crook. Hishamudin is not a racist, or at least no more than the DAP exco who gave a hamper of booze to that Malay top student. Khairy’s worst sin was being ambitious. All these people have been destroyed by this great freedom of speech. That’s something to be proud of? Raja Petra lies through his teeth. That makes him a hero, according to Antares?

bibliobibuli said...

i really don't know the truth or otherwise of any of these things but bloggers give me pause for thought and i tend to feel them more credible than official news sources.

i asked my husband and his friends (ex mckk, borderline elderly, highly qualified professionals, malay) which sources they relied on for their news. they said the blogs and sites like malaysiakini. they read the newspapers but only to know what the government's version was. this is how badly the press has lost the confidence of the people.

with blogging there comes responsibility. the biggest responsibility is to the truth. bloggers and journalists alike have that as their moral responsibility.

btw, do you blog? sounds as if you'd make a good blogger!

Anonymous said...

It's true. The thing about power is that it comes with responsibilities, but people are irresponsible a lot in their blogs.

Thing is where politics are concerned, there are no angels.

The truth is that we'll probably never know. So the business of political blogging is to sell a speculation that agrees with the mindset and worldview of it's readers. Who was it that said that people know what they _need_, but they always buy what they _want_ ? if people bought what they needed, food stores selling organic whole-wheat stuff would be more popular than McDonalds :)

I think though, we've gone past that stage.

I had a lot of fun tearing apart flimsy arguments, but there's a lot less of them now.

And yea about the newspapers, even the BN says they shouldn't be so pro-BN :)

I should start a blog, but I have no idea about site design :P plus it'd not be updated for ages. And who would read it anyway ?

I should stop with the excuses shouldn't I ?

gah, somebody help me set up the blog :P

It's all about relevancy. The BN are mostly old folks -- the young folks in BN are mostly Malay. That's what the problem is.

bibliobibuli said...

setting up a blog at all hard - the easiest to use perhaps is blogspot, and if a duffer like me can manage to work it out, i'm sure you'll do even better.

you can choose the template you like and as you build confidence, tweak it. friends gave me help when i asked for it or when something went wrong.

yes, just jump in. if it doesn't work out, the actually you've lost nothing. but clearly you are itching to try it and i think yours would be an interesting voice.

i began here with no readers at all and i wrote for myself. then folks turned up and the content began to be pushed. the addiction continues to grow ...

Anonymous said...

Khairy’s worst sin was being ambitious...

oh wait..i need to puke...

ah pong

pemantau said...

There you go. Do you KNOW any different? Or are you merely CONVINCED by what others JUST LIKE YOU say?

Anonymous said...

mr pemantau;

to quote dr M ... i picked Abdullah badawi but not his whole family to run the country...

i heard him said this myself in Kota bharu ...

and that's just the tip of the iceberg...


but let us not fight... lets listen to both sides and i thank bloggers for giving the alternative news and interpretation of things...

as you very well know our local mainstream mass media are merely donkeys to BN to propogate government views (read 'propaganda')...you certainly observed this during the recent GE .

ah pong

pemantau said...

That’s their job. As Ms Sharon said, her husband reads the MSM to see the government’s view. But I suspect you can’t bring yourself to read them at all. And Star and NST don’t upload sex videos of oppositionists to their websites. Nor do they respond to all this criticism by saying they have to puke. My point is, why take such a holier-than-thou attitude when the so-called alternative media are no better? Earlier here, I said Raja Petra lies. Note the court decision agreeing with that assessment. Note also how the alternative media aren’t mentioning it.

Anonymous said...

dear pemantau;

leave sharon out of this...she's an angel...

honestly, i couldn't bring myself to read MSM especially during the 10 days or so before the GE. They treat the readers , no, they insult the readers as though we are retards!

how can a country like malaysia have such stupid MSM is quite beyond me. You don't need to go to the guardian or NYT...just read Indonesian , philiuppine or Thai papers for comparison...

and with regards to 'alternative' media...especially the blogs! well yes, it's a free for all out there... it's the best thing that ever happens to malaysia! and that's what it should be. I feel this is the only saving grace to prevent thinking people from going mad in malaysia.

BN people are welcome to join the fray...



ah pong

Burhan said...

my view is that the blog, like the internet, the telephone, the newspaper, and the postal system, is in itself simply a neutral medium of communication.

certainly, at this moment in malaysia, in general it has taken a particular kind of personality and circumstances to keep a blog (and comment on one). but people are becoming more and more wired (i hope). millions of different people, from different background and different political affilations, around the world use blogs.

that all bloggers are of a certain type with certain political leanings and agendas, this is a stereotype.

of course, politics covers everything and everything can be said to be political in the broad sense of this word. i don't know what sharon would say, but i think of hers as a blog about books.

bibliobibuli said...

burhan - very good point. there are so many kinds of blogs yet all bloggers have been tarred with the same brush, and the good things that bloggers achieve, not mentioned. d

i try to only blog books but sometimes that becomes a bit political too esp. about policy issues and freedom of speech.

but i don't follow politics closely enough to speak about goings on with any authority ... and i'm a foreigner too so it isn't really right for me to comment.

malaysian politics are fascinating though and we live in particularly interesting times

Anonymous said...

Actually any BN people actually replying to any claim in the more rabid pro-oppo websites/blogs will likely be censored, simply because their readers like to read that stuff. They will lose readers, and thus lose money. They are not interested in the truth really, they are interested in the money -- their job is to affirm the world view of their readers :)

The other thing is that the majority of people in this country I think have money and are very easily manipulated. Some people will no doubt see the connection and start charging people to tell them what they want to hear. Where else in the world would people PAY to read obviously biased news and commentary ? :) only in Malaysia :)

But then again why should the BN be writing ? people only write when they cannot do, they should be fixing it instead of telling everyone how it can't be fixed or whatever.