"...certainly lost the Internet war.....it was a serious misjudgment to rely solely on government-controlled newspapers and television to get out its campaign message."
- Malaysian PM Badawi at an investor conference.
I guess Badawi finally realised that in the Internet Age propaganda is useless because people have alternative sources of information such as blogs and forums. The Malaysian govt is now trying to reach out to bloggers : link. I'm afraid it is too little too late, the country is now changed forever and the Internet played a significant role shaping the minds of Malaysians to bring about this transformation.
Our esteemed govt has in the past expressed concern that Singaporeans are being exposed to inaccurate and unfiltered information on the Internet. Unlike the Straits Times which is highly objective, many blogs are out to discredit our outstanding govt. Some like Mr. Brown's notorious blog even resort to satire to poke fun at our govt - I can't imagine what our our govt has done to deserve such ridicule. I consider satirical blogs like Mr. Brown's highly irresponsible as it trivialises the enormous effort by our govt to care for us. Amplifying the few honest mistakes (Mas Selamat, GST, Shin Corp, ....etc etc) will undermine the confidence the people have in our govt. While the Straits Times and the Chinese equivalent is the most widely read material on the island, an increasing number of people are turning to the Internet for information. I think the govt is honestly worried that these people are not getting the best information. Who are the writers of these unedited blogs? ....Our newspapers are written by people the best qualifications - such as Chua Mui Hoong who previously worked for the ISD and the editor of the Straits Times Han Fook Kwang a former govt scholar wrote the book "LKY, the man and his ideas" are prime examples of objective journalists who can give us the best information - healthy stuff for our minds. Who is Mr. Brown?...Mr. Brown is not even Mr. Brown, he is Lee Kin Mun, a free lance writer comedian without the proper qualifications to disseminate information to Singaporeans.
The PAP govt has banned political podcasting and videocasting during elections...but the Internet is designed such that such bans are useless - anyone can put out a podcast or video anonymously without being caught. They also tried to get bloggers who "persistently propagate, promote or circulate political issues relating to Singapore" to register with the MDA...unfortunately no body bothered with that.
Our govt can do what the Malaysian govt is trying to do now reach out to bloggers. We can start giving away National Day awards to bloggers who contribute the most to our national agenda. Our ministers should meet up with bloggers regularly to build a bridge for a two-way dialogue between the government and people. There should be rewards and awards for bloggers who show the best appreciation for their policies.
Looking around in the blogsphere I'm very sad to say that except for my blog, there are very few (almost none) that truly appreciate what our govt has done for us. Our govt may not be able to please everyone but it seems to have displeased every single political blogger (except myself). I say to everyone, lets keep our minds open when we evaluate what the PAP govt is doing for us, there is always a good side to everything they do and if you're not sure how it is good for you, all you need to do is open up the Straits Times ....and all the goodness will enter your mind.