Facebook, Twitter is bad, according to Rais Yatim
About an hour ago, I sent out this tweet:
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!
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.
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:
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:
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.
And do you see what I see? Maybe this is the reason why Dr Rais is so against social media networks.
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)