Alternative media critical to Malaysian election

According to USINFO, a publication of the Department of State, alternative media played a key role in the March 8 parliamentary elections in Malaysia. The ruling Barisan National (BN) party received a surprising blow when it lost 82 seats in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat. Although the BN still holds 63% of seats, it lost its commanding two-thirds majority. The BN has ruled Malaysia for 50 years.

At a forum on April 1, at the University Malaya, columnist Datuk Johan Jaffar noted that alternative media had a crucial effect on the election outcome. In Malaysia, people trust the Internet more than official sources, the [opposition] election campaign was conducted unconventionally and quietly, and added that he hopes the recent campaign and election results will be a wake up call for the government.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, a member of the BN, acknowledged on March 25 that his coalition certainly lost the Internet war, and added that it was a serious misjudgment for his party to rely solely on government-controlled newspapers and television in its efforts to attract voters.