Niki Cheong blogging

Facebook, Twitter is bad, according to Rais Yatim

About an hour ago, I sent out this tweet:

Twitter: NikiCheong

Indeed, I could not think of any way of reacting to this Bernama article published on The Star Online, quoting Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim warning Malaysians not to be “immersed” in Facebook, Twitter and Internet culture.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Malaysians, especially Muslims, must avoid being totally immersed in the internet culture, especially Facebook and Twitter, said Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.

He added that facilities like internet could not be accepted wholly because it was a form of business introduced by the West and “Malaysians were just users.”

Do you understand now why I was speechless?

Of course, the Twitterverse went mental and branded it as utter rubbish (they called him many names as well but you have got to go on Twitter to look for those yourself). Now, of course we would react that way. After all, for many of us, the Internet has become such a major part of our lives that to think it bad is, well, unthinkable.

Of course, this begs the question about how Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (Facebook here, Twitter here) would react? Sure, it’s not as grave an issue considering the issues plaguing out country at the moment but Najib has been a strong proponent of social media – actively promoting his Facebook Fan Page as well as constantly updating his Tweets (whether it is ghost Twitterers is besides the point). Heck, even his wife Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor has her own microsite!

Facebook: Najib Tun Razak

Najib is not the only Minister to have embraced social technology. We also have Datuk Raja Nong Chik, the Federal Territories Minister who have been dubbed (by whom, I’m not sure) as the “Facebook” Minister. In fact, he actually uses Facebook to engage with his public – getting people to post their grievances on the site to which he will respond to. Whether this has proven effective is one thing, but there is no denying his understanding that social media is the way forward. This is evident in his Blog4FT campaign late last year (which is still ongoing) to mobilise bloggers to talk about the Federal Territories in Malaysia.

Blog4Ft

My biggest worry about this whole thing is not Dr Rais’ apparent stupidity. The fact that he is Information and Communications Minister makes his statement extremely dangerous. It shows how backward our policies are with regards to new technology, even though we have for more than a decade been trying to attract foreign investors to our country via the Multimedia Super Corridor.

Or perhaps this is Dr Rais’ way of telling foreign investors to stay away, especially those from Western countries, considering what he was implying about Westerners in his earlier statement.

What is also ironic is this statement he made, also quoted in the same article.

“We must be strong in our believes and culture because the identity and image of our country depends on us.”

What kind of identity and image are you trying to portray to the rest of the world, Datuk Seri, considering how ancient and backward your policies seem to be? That you, and your thoughts, are irrelevant? In a world where social media is changing the way people communicate, can any country, Government, organisation or individual afford to be left behind?

The thing is, I’m not sure that Dr Rais actually means what he says. Nobody can be that stupid. Of course it’s politics (although, what the agenda is, I really can’t tell).

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah obviously saw right through it when he tweeted:

Twitter: razaleigh

There were many views shared on Twitter, some intelligent, some really funny, some insulting. The one I like best is from UMNO Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin for the sole reason that I don’t believe him when he said:

Twitter: Khairykj

It’s only been an hour or so since KJ tweeted that, and he’s not posted anything thus far, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be back. (Update: I called it – as I’m sure many others did! – his tweets returned on the morning of Jan 17 stating: “Tried hard to resist the evils of social media as per someone’s advice but clearly I’m easy meat for penjajahan minda by dunia luar.” Oh snap).

The thing is, it really baffles me that Dr Rais would say such a thing. I do wonder if some of what he said was taken out of context. Bernama doesn’t have a great reputation for their translations into English, and I’d venture a guess that Dr Rais was speaking in Bahasa Malaysia since he is such a vicious and venomous proponent of the language. What’s more, the article doesn’t read well – it’s not very coherent.

But if it is true, one should not be surprised. After all, this is the same person who updates his Facebook Fan Page (yes he has one, not sure if it’s official though) using all caps.

Facebook: Rais Yatim

And do you see what I see? Maybe this is the reason why Dr Rais is so against social media networks.

Facebook: Rais Yatim

See the numbers? He only has 343 fans. Jealous kot that the other Ministers beribu-ribu. Either that or he is, like what my colleague Sharmila Nair would say, bodoh nak mampus.

Or all of the above.

9.35pm Malaysian time (+8 GMT)

Discussion (38)

There are 38 responses to “Facebook, Twitter is bad, according to Rais Yatim”.

  1. simonseow responded:

    · Reply

    He didn't know about Plurk? It's created by Malaysian. lol

  2. elyantie responded:

    · Reply

    hmmmmm – a quick and well-researched comment :)

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Niki Cheong and Niki Cheong, pop wire. pop wire said: Twittaverse goes 'mental', Minister of Info & Comm may reflect abdly w tech investors, sez @nikicheong http://j.mp/8mvRRk [...]

  4. Mitch responded:

    · Reply

    This is so sad coming from a 'so called Minister'. Really…..I truly understand now why ur speechless *faints*

  5. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by nikicheong: @azwinandy Can read here: http://bit.ly/5a0B5m

  6. Wow…firstly, 343 is little fans.
    Secondly, whatever ur fren said is just wow. Nice guts to write it here frankly.

  7. el responded:

    · Reply

    KJ can’t stop twitting.. lol
    Tried hard to resist the evils of social media as per someone’s advice but clearly I’m easy meat for penjajahan minda by dunia luar. – KJ

  8. Cis, indeed!

  9. maybe he wanted us to use Friendster instead cos it was bought over by Malaysian..aakkakakakaa..

  10. I think he’s just trying to get people to return to Friendster. You know, being now owned by a Malaysian company and all.

    But I think you’re right – he’s jealous – which probably accounts for the “especially Muslims” bit. Bigger picture, tho – they guy simply doesn’t get social media. Or technology, come to think of it.

    To say that Rais is so 20th century would probably be an insult to the 20th century…

  11. Very well said! After reading your entry, I am left with nothing to comment about. You probably have spoken on the behalf on all of us.

    Gosh, I wonder how will be ever be a successful country like this.

  12. facebook is bad for employer, its seem that major of the employee use their working hours playing facebook

  13. Lucky he’s not elected MP from my area . Maybe he want promote RTM to us , malaysian but then again we have oledi have astro so …. maybe next time, ban internet and so forth

  14. This is a total nonsense by a minister.

    He still hasnt realised the full potential of social medie, or perhaps, in a way, he wants to restrict us!

  15. Interesting! Maybe he is really jealous that he got so little fans, i got more friends than his fans. LOL. In Malaysia this is what happen they make us believe that everything from the western country is bad and no good. They brain wash us to think that this is another kind of colonization that sooner we will all be influence by the western. This is what my Titas lecturer always tell us in class. But they are so narrow minded because of Twitter, the news and help regarding Haiti earthquake spread so fast. We are not that stupid, that will stop facebook-ing and twitter just because of what he said.

  16. Malaysian political scene will be an online war soon…get on board BN if not you shall lose more vote soon! Trust me – I’m the voice of the future :) and oh ya, i reckon Rais Yatim which ought to be doing other cabinet related job as he surely doesn’t understand the power of communication, information and culture that’s shaping our world.

    I reckon in the next cabinet reshuffle Najib will be moving Rais Yatim to do another role and pass this baton of communication/information and culture to someone else! Remember this is the voice of the future. x

    • Are you a registered voter Hangsing? :) You should do it when you come back next month, if you’re not!

      Elections will be coming soon I think.

  17. [...] Facebook, Twitter is bad, according to Rais Yatim [...]

  18. analyze_first responded:

    · Reply

    “Facebook, Twitter is bad, according to Rais Yatim” – Niki Cheong

    I’m going to have to disagree with you here Niki. From this alone, you can see that you have taken what he said out of context. To be fair, I do agree that both Facebook and Twitter could be fun and productive tools that has inevitably affected our lives. I think what he’s trying to say is that, we as Malaysians should know how to manage our time accordingly and not to waste it everyday on Facebook and Twitter. Probably the message given to us here is that we can use it, but don’t let it control you. Either way, I think perhaps you were slightly too defensive about this Mr. Cheong.

    It’s like saying, “The doctor recommends you an amount of dosage, but you think otherwise stating that the doctor told you that it’s bad for you…” you clearly misinterpret what he said.

    • Urchins responded:

      · Reply

      I’m inclined to believe with the above poster, analyze_first. Dr. Rais’ statements seem to have been taken out of context in this incident, and his call for moderation has been grossly misconstrued as a call for complete abstinence.

      Furthermore, with regards to your closing statement, you seem to confuse popularity with competence, believing that a Facebook profile (as of yet, not proved to be official) is a good indication of how capable a politician is. To prove how misguided this snap judgment is, let’s consider Dr. Mahathir, who boasts thousands of fans as his most ardent supporters, the vast majority of which are a bunch of slavering troglodytes whose combined knowledge of politics is less than that of a paralysed goldfish. However, despite this fleeting popularity, the list of Mahathir’s political fiascoes can fill a book: the 1988 Constitutional Crisis, the abolition of the 1961 Education Act, and let’s not forget the ever-popularised Anwar incident. And this isn’t even touching on a whole slew of other scandals that could fill a shopping list.

      Dr. Rais, on the other hand, whilst lacking the impressive fan-base, has shown consistent competence on the political scene and has proved his merit as a representative of Malaysia long before any of these other more popular fledgling politicians began to beat their chests. Now, by no means, is he perfect – certainly, he has shown a strong sense of ambition, if you would consider this a fault. But, if the purpose of your article is to point out the errors of a certain politician, it would be of much greater worth to focus on his actual shortcomings rather than taking one of his comments out of context and extrapolating it to no end.

      • While I disagree with your first paragraph – I don’t think I’ve taken anything out of context – I won’t argue with the rest. We all look for different things in our leaders, and if what he’s doing works for you, then great – vote for him in the next elections.

        • Urchins responded:

          · Reply

          Thank you for taking the time to reply. It’s much appreciated.

          I’m sorry to labour out the thrust of my argument, but I did actually read the Star Online article prior to replying, and I believe that you’ve latched onto a single comment that fulminated this response and subsequently disregarded the rest of his statement. To demonstrate, allow me to point out a one quote in particular.

          “We are not saying that they cannot use Facebook or Twitter”

          The above has led me to believe that this is a call for moderation as I had mentioned in my previous post, and not a call to abandon social networking entirely which is the sentiment your article seems to portray. However, at this juncture, I suppose we may have to agree to disagree.

          With regards to his other comments, I can see no fault in warning Malaysians to “be careful with what they see and hear,” because I’m sure that as we are both fairly competent Internet users, we are more than aware of the ubiquitous amount of speculation, hearsay and unadulterated nonsense that floats around here in cyberspace.

          Another commentator has also raised the question of bringing religion into this argument. To your everyday reader, this does seem like an odd choice of topic to bring up on a discussion on Internet usage. However, knowing Dr. Rais’ political history, in particular his strong stance against Internet pornography, it becomes evident that his call to maintain the “values taught by Islam, Buddhism or Christianity” are an allusion to his previous statements, and not a strange attempt to pseudo-sanctify cyberspace.

          I hope you can see the points I’m trying to illustrate, but I will understand if you choose to disagree with me. After all, discussion would not be constructive if everyone was of one mind!

    • I’m afraid I have to disagree back! :)

      The headline to this blog post, may be simplistic but I think I’ve explained his position pretty clear in the post – including a link to the original article.

      And I don’t agree with your reading of his comments – considering he brought in other factors – like religious values, for example – which in my opinion has nothing to do about “how to manage our time accordingly”.

      Btw, not defensive at all. It wasn’t a personal attack on me, so I have no reason to be :)

  19. Funny la. I think the fact that his fan base is so little makes him feel inevitable defensive lor.

  20. bernard responded:

    · Reply

    some ppl r born stupid…some choose to b stupid… guess which one is appropriate???

  21. kat responded:

    · Reply

    hehehe….extremely good article and witty as hell…u made my day…lol :)

  22. Ferdaus responded:

    · Reply

    hahaha, what a shame.

  23. [...] maybe not counted. Besides, she didn’t need the radio, she had YouTube (but we all know what your opinions are on social media tools, I suppose). So I guess you wouldn’t really count Bunkface’s [...]

  24. BigBird responded:

    · Reply

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