Please click here to read my interview in The Star. I am away overseas for 3 weeks. So postings may not be very regular.
At the roundtable, I pointed out that the government is not ready to accept the Internet as a media channel because it cannot be controlled. As argued by Jeff, the freedom enjoyed by bloggers in the country is more by accident than by design (KJ disagrees). Since the Mahathir regime, the promise of no online censorship is given to stimulate/promote investment and not to protect our democratic rights.
The nature of Internet provides free access and an equal playing field for all participants as long as they are willing to embrace it. However, what we have witnessed are efforts and actions taken by the authority to run down the credibility online news and blogs. Unfortunately, the creation of reliable news and contents are not solely the domain of the traditional mass media, which are equally tainted with the close ties with the ruling political parties.
I argue that the government should change their mindset and embrace the Internet more positively. This can be done through the creation of their own domain to engage with a growing pool of online users. By taking negative and repressive actions against bloggers will only encourage more blogs taking up an anonymous position. Such reactions only help to strengthen the perception that the government has something to hide.
KJ admitted that blogs, websites and multimedia tools will become influential political tools in the next 10 years. He thought UMNO is not doing enough to counter online opposition.
The opposition thrives online because out of desperation and a lack of access to mass media they have to adopt and embrace the internet faster than government parties.