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Ramblings on the media, politics and everything else that matters.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


Laman sosial beri penerangan GST tidak menyerlah - Utusan Malaysia

I had the opportunity to present my research paper on GST which was based on a social media research that we produced last year. A reporter from Utusan  approached me later for an interview after listening to my presentation, so here's the story by Safina Ramli.
KUALA LUMPUR 8 Nov. - Laman-laman sosial yang memberi penerangan kepada rakyat mengenai pelaksanaan cukai barang dan perkhidmatan (GST) didapati tidak begitu menyerlah, malah mesej yang disampaikan juga tidak meyakinkan.
Selain itu, mesej-mesej yang disampaikan kepada rakyat gagal menonjol dan tidak bersepadu sehingga menyebabkan persepsi negatif rakyat terhadap kerajaan semakin meningkat selepas GST dilaksanakan.
Koordinator Pasca Siswazah Pusat Pengajian Perangsaraf Media dan Informasi, Fakulti Komunikasi Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shahnon Mohamed Salleh berkata, perkembangan media sosial juga menjadi penyumbang kepada peningkatan persepsi negatif terhadap kerajaan di mana media sosial kini telah menjadi platform arus perdana berbanding sekadar media alternatif kepada rakyat.
"Secara keseluruhan, kajian memperlihatkan trend persepsi masyarakat sudah pun negatif sejak awal (62 peratus tidak setuju dengan GST) dan meningkat kepada 66 peratus selepas GST dilaksanakan.
"Persepsi negatif ini seterusnya menjadi lebih parah apabila kenyataan demi kenyataan oleh anggota Kabinet yang mendapat maklum balas amat negatif di media sosial," katanya ketika pembentangan kertas kerja Seminar Menangani Kenaikan Kos Sara Hidup: Isu dan Penyelesaian di Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), di sini hari ini. - UTUSAN ONLINE 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


US Politics 101 and Trump

Looks like the American political pendulum swings hard again this year. After 8 years (full term) of Bill Clinton (D) from 1992 to 2000, the pendulum swings to the right for another 8 years under George W Bush (R). The pendulum then swung left in 2008 when Barack Obama (D) won.

Apparently Hillary and the Democrats aren't strong enough to stop the political pendulum from swinging to the right this time.

Welcome to the new global order.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Who has the right to rule Malaya?

"Who has the right to rule Malaya? by Inche Sulaiman bin Ahmad (SBA Publishing, 1946)".

This is the oldest book in my collection. A very important question indeed especially if you consider the historical context. 1946: It was a year after the end of the Second World War. It was a year after the Japanese lost WW2 and left a huge power vacuum in Malaya for a brief period of time, before the British returned.

The pro-Communist MPAJA (Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army) took advantage of the situation well and they came out from their jungle bases to occupy many small cities - mostly in the small towns such as Kuala Pilah, Batu Pahat, Temerloh etc - across the Malay peninsular.

So for two bloody weeks, Malaya was ruled by the pro-Communist MPAJA guerrila forces. I cannot imagine the kind of disaster had they been able to rule for two years or even two months!

Their terroristic revenge tactics in persecuting former Japanese sympathisers, who were mostly Malays, soon gave birth to several infamous resistance groups. One of the most famous ones were the Selempang Merah group led by popular Malay Muslim ulama, Kiai Salleh in Batu Pahat. These clashes led to the worst (yes, May 13 1969 was not not the worst) racial clash between the Malays and Chinese in the 20th century. Those from Batu Pahat, Johor or Sungai Manik, Perak can probably attest to this tragedy (Read Cheah Boon Kheng's 'Red Star over Malaya').

So thank you British (only within this specific context) for not abandoning Malaya in 1946 and thank you Lai Tek for being a double agent for the Communist Party & the British. The Communist terrorists would have probably ruled Malaya for many more years had the British decided not to return to Kuala Lumpur after WW2...

Related blog post --
"Revolusi 48 (Malayan Revolution) [REVIEW]

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Uber and the neo-Luddites

[Caption: Economic losers from creative destruction: machine-breaking Luddites (English workers who believed that new industrial machineries threatened their jobs) from early-nineteenth-century Britain. Taken from "Why Nations Fail" by Acemoglu and Robinson.]

Throughout history, from the age of the industrial revolution in the early 19th century until today, there has always been groups or communities that have attempted to resist change, specifically technological change, as represented here by the Luddites.

Today, the 'neo-Luddites' are represented by groups of extreme anti-Uber taxi drivers who  have attacked and damaged many Uber cars. The two men pictured here are the modern day anti-Uber taxi drivers. See, this is why I love history. It never fails to repeat itself, again and again and again.

I have nothing against taxi drivers, except for the few uncivilised ones. Technology has change. Society will change. 21st century is not the same as the 20th century. What is common or normal in the last century is not always common or normal in the new century.

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Monday, July 11, 2016


Revisiting Moïsi's "The Geopolitics of Emotion"

"The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation and Hope are Reshaping the World" (Anchor Books, 2009)

I have read this remarkable work by one of France's leading scholars, Dominique Moïsi, 5 years ago. It remains as one of the best books on contemporary global politics in my collection. But nothing quite struck me of how spot-on his views were, until recently; namely the Syrian refugee crisis, the rise of the far-right anti-immigrant parties across Europe, the global appeal of the IS terrorist group, the rise and the populism of the xenophobic Republican Donald Trump in America and most recently the British fear and anger behind #Brexit.

To Moïsi, the three major global civilisations are represented by three important emotions; West; America and Europe (fear), Islamic (humiliation) and, India, China, East Asia and Africa (hope).

It is grossly insufficient to only be focusing on Trump's racism and his personality alone without understanding the appeal behind Trump-ism and the ideology of fear in America. Likewise in Europe and in the UK, the sense of fear is sweeping across the continent. 

The fear that Muslims and Islam are changing the tradition identity and culture of Europe. And the fear that migrants are bringing in foreign ideology and culture. This fear and anger was clearly manifested in the recent #Brexit referendum where 51% of British citizens voted to Leave the EU. Experts have argued that the vote was nothing about the economy but it was all about immigration and the fear of migrants "swarming" into the UK.

Second, it is insufficent to merely deny the religion of the IS without understanding the emotion that drives them to their idea of "jihad". By simply denouncing them as unIslamic, without going to the roots of the problem, does not make the problem go away. E.g. The decline of the Muslim ummah post-Ottoman caliphate, the humiliation of the Arab states in the 20th century at the hands of the Anglo-American neo-colonialism, Zionism, and the continuing instability in Palestine, Iraq, Syria etc which are all part of the contributing factors.

P/s: To all fans of geopolitics and global affairs, this book is highly recommended.

My previous post based on the same book, "Politics of Hope and Fear" (2013).

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Saturday, June 4, 2016


Idiocracy and American Politics

We (America) have become an idiocracy. And it only took two and a half centuries - Joel Stein, TIME.

This is not the first article that I have read about "Idiocracy" and the surrealism of American politics. In fact, I have tweeted something similar 2 years ago (Ha ha). But anyways, if there is one brilliantly stupid Hollywood movie that I'd like to recommend, it's "Idiocracy".

It's just too stupid when I watched it a few years ago but the stupidity is becoming the new reality in American politics. The sci-fi comedy movie was set 500 years in the future but I think nobody expected the fictitious narratives to become reality too soon; 2016!

I think I know what to ask Donald Trump if I ever get the chance to see him; 
"Have you watched Idiocracy?"

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Monday, March 21, 2016


Self-censorship is a must, say media experts - The Mole

Email interview with The Mole. Story by Amira Nutfah.
KUALA LUMPUR – Feb 20, 2016: Netizens are urged to use the Internet responsibly, now that Facebook, Whatsapp and other social media avenues are playing an increasingly prominent role in communication.
Media experts who talked to The Mole stressed that netizens must practice self-censorship to avoid the unsuspected repercussions that irresponsible posting and sharing would cost to the general populace.
Earlier, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak in a blog posting advised Internet users to authenticate news shared over social media news feeds.
He wrote that careless postings can create unnecessary confusion, panic, and fear, while in some cases, would lead to online scams.
“In conclusion, don’t blindly click, like and share things that you see on your newsfeed, without fully understanding the details behind the headlines or the truth about the story,” he wrote.
Journalism and media warfare expert Professor Dr Mokhtar Muhammad of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) explained that people ignored the move to “verify before sharing” as they are fixated to need of fast and speedy information.
Mokhtar said, it has appeared to be a trend where most netizens, afraid of being labelled as “outdated and unknowledgeable” would simply forwarded the messages they get.
He added, some also shared an information or false alert out of fear, particularly when a terrifying incidence occurred around them.
“If we were to be in such pressing situation, most of us would feel the urgency to inform others and have little time to verify the messages,” he added.
The media expert added that self-censorship can be exercised individually by stopping the act of sharing unverified information.
“The big idea is to put ourselves in the shoes of the people that would be affected. If possible, contact the authorities if the messages involved the government and ask them for clarification,” he added.
Advertising and media warfare expert Associate Professor Dr Adnan Hashim of UiTM pointed out that the circulation of fabricated or false information especially targeting national leaders should be stopped.
In addition, Adnan urged netizens to double check any information as to avoid defaming or tarnishing the profile of anyone.
“When we finally found out that a forwarded posting is unauthentic, it would be too late. There are always implications on doing or sharing. Most of the time, the effects can be serious once it involve political leaders or public figures,” he added.
The media expert however stressed that all in all, self-censorship should be backed with good parenting and education, that good values learnt will help safeguard one’s action.
“Young people are spending more time on social media compared to anything else. For the more reason, they have to exercise the values learnt. This is sometimes common sense. If you don’t know the full truth of something, then don’t share it,” he added.
Social media expert Shahnon Mohamed Salleh of the Centre of Media and Information Warfare Studies, UiTM opined that being responsible online requires one to evaluate the “detrimental effects” of an information.
Shahnon said, “freedom of expression” is indeed an indisputable saying, but netizens often neglected that such right entails bigger responsibility.
He added, the underlying factor is that the netizens appear to be easily deceived into believing that the messages or postings are interesting and worth sharing, without knowing the accuracy.
“Past study had shown that for about 70 to 75 per cent of viral contents shared online including through Whatsapp is actually false news, but many believed them. 
“This ‘herd mentality’ is nothing new, but with social media, everything is documented, hence it’s easy for all to see,” he added. 
Shahnon also suggested the government to come up with a monitoring system engaged with social media to eliminate malicious postings that would endanger public order and security.
He said, the authority must remind the public that legal action is only used as a last resort and serve as a deterrent to the public. 
He added, the online community can also help by establishing creative measure, like a “fact checker” page that act as a group to help in securing verification of a posting.

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