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

Monday, January 30, 2017


Media expert disagrees pro-establishment overwhelmed in cyberspace - The Mole

KUALA LUMPUR – Jan 23, 2017: A media expert has expressed disagreement with the research finding quoted by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that indicated the current percentage of cybertroopers in support of the government as being very low.
Social media researcher Shahnon Mohamed Salleh of the Centre of Media and Information Warfare Studies, UiTM told The Mole that the 6.6 percent cited by the research as the portion of cybertroopers who support the government could not be accurate.
He said his academic team’s studies suggested that the percentage should instead at least be at 16 to 20 per cent.
“Based on our studies between 2015 and 2016, the number of pro-establishment cybertroopers is higher than what was announced yesterday. It’s not that bad. Generally, it’s hard for us to accept such a low percentage.
“It’s not that we want to contest the findings. But, if possible, we would like to verify the process of the research quoted by our deputy prime minister to ensure that the data is not flawed,” said Shahnon.
Zahid had yesterday lamented that the government is at a disadvantage due to the domination of anti-establishment cybertroopers in shaping public’s perception online.
The deputy prime minister had quoted a study on new media platform, which found that only 6.6 per cent of online operatives are pro-establishment, with a ratio of 1 against 15 existing cybertroopers.
An officer at the deputy prime minister’s office when contacted had confirmed to The Mole that the finding was taken from a study conducted by a researcher at a local university.
According to him, the deputy prime minister had disclosed the finding to urge pro-establishment online operatives to increase their efforts in explaining the government’s policies and agenda to the people, and to combat the pejorative perception facing the government.
Shahnon, nonetheless, insisted that such finding could be misinterpreted by some quarters.
“It could give the impression that the majority of local social media users are deriding the government, which is not true. Our concern is that the public would translate or equate the 93.4 per cent of anti-government cybertroopers to the amount of support towards the opposition.
“We gather that the deputy prime minister did not refer to the whole social media perception, but, there’s a chance of misinterpretation, especially when it involves big research data,” Shahnon added.
Meanwhile, Merdeka Centre programme director Ibrahim Suffian Ibrahim, who also talked to The Mole today described cybertroopers as a group of people paid to post positive comments about certain parties in social media.
“If we look into scholarly journals, most of them had been studying the works of cybertroopers in shaping public’s perception in the Internet. Most of them are paid to create impressions of news or information.”
However, Ibrahim maintained that the anti-establishment sentiment is indeed dominating the local cyberspace.
“The firm (Merdeka Centre) has not conducted any proper research in regards to the matter, but, since the last 10 years, we observed that those with Internet access tend to be having more critical attitude towards the government.
“This may be because they are more exposed to information, particularly from social networking sites like Facebook. Most of the information is unfiltered. It can be opinions, it can be facts, and it can be propaganda. It’s hard to tell how people process this (information) in their minds,” he added.
[Source: The Mole

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.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Fact-checkers needed to discourage media spin - The Mole

Another interview with The Mole.
KUALA LUMPUR – October 11, 2016: Media studies academicians think that one of the best ways to counter media spins is for civil society form a team of fact-checkers.
However, the government must not be a part or perceived to be a part of the team.
They mooted the idea following the recent case of Gerakan politician Baljit Singh who plunged into controversy after a news portal cherry-picked his statement to depict him as being sexist.
According to Universiti Tekonologi Mara media warfare expert Shahnon Mohamed Salleh, government involvement would only ruin the team’s credibility.
“It would be interesting to see the team being formed by the public instead of the government,” Shahnon told The Mole. “That way, at least people will not perceive the team as the government’s attempt to stifle the press.
“But this does not mean that the media is untouchable and should be allowed to continue to spin half-truths,” he said, adding that the team could try and emulate independent media watchdogs in countries like the United States.
Dr Jeniri Amir from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak agreed to the suggestion because societal pressure is one of the best ways to force nefarious media outlets into behaving professionally and ethically.
For example, readers can compare between the spun news reports with the one that has been professionally reported.
This, the communication and media studies lecturer claimed, is more effective than lodging police reports against the press.
“When people are aware that certain media outlets are spinning stories, it will eventually pressure journalists and editors to do their job professionally and ethically.”
He also condemned unethical and unprofessional journalists and editors who resort to spinning for the sake of getting higher ratings.

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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