The Egyptian Lesson: Malaysia Beware!

Hantu Laut

Power of the Internet which have either been largely ignored or curtailed by tyrannical governments had been instrumental for the Egyptian uprising.

Social media do not topple nasty regimes but activists can use it to mass mobilise people on to the ground by harnessing the power of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs. The mainstream media do not have the speed and reach as effective as these social media.

The Egyptian uprising was started online by Google 30-year old executive Wael Ghonim who used Facebook as his platform. Wael was arrested and detained for over a week but later released. He is now considered a hero in Egypt. He could have also been killed if the Army had been brutal in supporting Mubarak. The Army eventually came to their senses that they can’t kill millions of Egyptians on the streets and demanded Mubarak’s resignation.

The White House is now in a quandary, they have supported this tyrant for too long, the next leader may not be as friendly. 

As news of the protest spread it triggered off a wild fire harnessing all available social media primarily Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Facebook was the biggest contributor among the three.

The Egyptian government eventually shut down the Internet hoping that the trouble would go away which by then was too late as the news had travelled the length and breadth of the nation.It had no choice but to restore the Internet or lose favour with its Western allies particularly the U.S.

The Malaysian March 2008 General Elections where the BN was almost routed losing 5 states and its two-thirds majority was a stark reminder of the power of the Internet. In the Malaysian case the media support was mostly by bloggers and to lesser extent YouTube. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are just as potent, fast and effective.

The BN government is still living in a state of denial that the alternative media had played an effective role in diminishing their grip on political power. They still depend on the MSM which have seen most circulation declining as more and more people used the Internet to source their news.

During the untenable tenure of Pak Lah the most damaging to the ruling party was Malaysia Today, a blog with huge following run by the politically incorrigible Raja Petra Kamarudin. He provided the most effective arsenal in the opposition’s war chest. The government credibility was so low at that time even the untruths became the truths to his followers. He was a kind of Julian Assange on a smaller scale publishing sensitive documents on his blog on government’s wrongdoings. He is still a wanted man in Malaysia.