Rais comment has Net users boiling, creates global sensation

(The Star) – A Malaysian topic created a huge furore on the Internet, especially on microblogging service Twitter. On the receiving end was Information, Communications, Culture and Arts Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim, for saying that Twitter and Facebook are tools of the West that can erode Malaysian culture.

The reactions from local Internet users — posted on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, as well as blogs — snowballed from last Sunday when Rais’ comment was reported in Malaysian newspapers.

Last night, the topic hit a high on Twitter; peaking at the No 3 spot on its Top 10 Trending Topics Chart at about 8pm, edging out even the Haiti disaster and Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury.

The tweets, under the hashtag #yorais, then started petering out from 9pm yesterday and the topic is no longer on Twitter’s Top 10 list.

Take that

Comments and remarks on the Minister’s statement went from snide and sarcastic to comical over the past 72-odd hours.

“… are Malaysians 12 (years old)?” read one tweet. “I’m Malaysian and not in any culture shock (when using the Internet)” was another.

One Facebook user remarked: “The West did not give you your will power. If an individual cannot control what they (sic) take in, something must be wrong with him or her.”

At the height of the tweeting on Tuesday, the tweets against Rais became comical when Twitterers turned the topic into a “Rais is so ancient …” joke.

Some even offered cash prizes of RM5 and RM10 to those who came up with the best lines.

Among the tweets were, “Rais is so ancient, Parameswara asked him for directions,” “Rais is so ancient, he knew Burger King when it was still a prince,” and “Rais is so ancient, he is on a first name basis with the pharoahs.”

Many of the others are not fit for print.

Other views

Several Malaysians also called In.Tech to comment on Rais’ statement. Most were of the opinion that Malaysians are mature enough to know how to use the Internet and social media responsibly.

“Humans have the ability to judge what’s right and wrong,” said a 30-year-old clerk, who wanted to be identified only as Wan.

David Lian, a social media advocate, believes the Minister’s “blanket statement” was unfair.

“Facebook and Twitter are modern platforms for the sharing of ideas and a means of communicating with one another,” he said.

On Sunday, Rais had warned against excessive use of sites like Facebook and Twitter because they could erode the country’s culture.

He had also called on Malaysians, especially Muslims, to not immerse themselves in Internet culture as it was a form of business introduced by the West and that Malaysians were just users.

Rais had also chided Malaysians who belittled those who were not Facebook or Twitter savvy. “We should not be quick to condemn … newspapers are still relevant, so is Facebook, but do not be carried away with everything and disregard the old system,” he had said.