Daily SG: 12 Mar 2008

Malaysia Elections
– Mr Wang Says So: Politics in Cyberspace
– Sophie’s World: Wanted: New Malaysian PM
– Mindblogging Stuff: Will the wind of change finally blow our way?
– Yawning Bread Sampler: Any lessons from the Malaysian general election for us?
– Sgpolitics.net: Like Umno, the PAP’s hegemony on power can only be broken by a united Opposition campaign

Prison Break, Singapore Style
– My Sketchbook: Mas selamat exploding in Wong’s face
– The Workers’ Party: Escape Of Mas Selamat
– My Singapore News: No words from Mas Selamat’s family
– Simply Jean: Singaporeans get A+ for Mas Selamat’s escape?
– Used Brains For Sale: Lampposts
– Readings From A Political Duo-ble: The Great Escape of Mas Selamat Kastari – Revisiting ISA

CPF & Annuities
– Simply Jean: Of CPF schemes…

ERPains, Trains & Automobiles
– To Fix a Mocking Peasant: To improve public transport, consult bimbos
– Singapore Life and Times: Raw deal
– Alice Cheong in Wonderland” Why will public transport not be taken over by government

Daily Discourse
– The Online Citizen: In response to MM Lee’s Washington Post article on Iraq
– Where Bears Roam Free: MM Lee should send his own grandchildren to do the killing and dying

Life, the universe and everything
– the(new)mediaslut: IDA using this blog as reference material?
– eastcoastlife: Tattooed 4D Fish – Wordless Wednesday

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2 Responses to Daily SG: 12 Mar 2008

  1. Darkness says:

    LESSONS FROM THE MALAYSIAN ELECTIONS IN SINGAPORE

    The recent Malaysian elections, raises; a host of questions, concerning the advent of the internet in shaping the social and political landscape. Question: are there any learning outcomes?

    Firstly, let me be clear why we are studying this development – it would seem we have some insidious intent, nothing can be further from the truth. Many of us are gamers and gamers will always show enthusiasm in any competitive game. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s studying the competitive strategies of two chicken rice vendors trying to out do each other in the same food court. Or even pouring through meticulous details of what sort of arrow heads the Spartans lobbed at the Persians in Thermopylae. Or something as juggernaut as the American presidential race – in every case, the search in the competitive domain will invariably cover the social, cultural, technological to even the political – if the imperative is understand; how people perpetuate themselves.

    Central to every enquiry in the competitive is; how do people maximize their advantage under a given set of condition? Here the fractional minutiae features in the process of enquiry. In every case, there’s almost an tacit agreement within the gaming community, there’s more to it than meets the eye, as the process accounting for how a people perpetuate themselves isn’t really a rational process as much as it remains a very haphazard process; that a voter may be a heterosexual, happily married with two kids, drive a Japanese car, eat out once a week and even be a Manchester United supporter is given, but what factors that comes into play when he votes which one of these characteristics swallows up the rest?

    The truth, in the recent Malaysian general elections suggest, the search for reason may be self defeating; did the internet play an instrumental role in outflanking the BN. Yes, without a doubt, but it failed to advance the idea the process of perpetuation is rational and did not in fact produce aberrations. I will not mince my words here, I cannot see what utility for instance, a blogger can possibly bring to the political sphere, unless you can convince me blogging is some activity that corresponds to increasing brain size or something. Neither do I view the success of the opposition in a clear cut light either as a slug out between evil and good, old and new, where the latter won the day on merit alone as it’s so often depicted. This becomes evident when one sieves through the election rhetoric only to discover instead of deep spirited narratives, much of the mainstay of in securing victory has been secured by regularly peddling homily sugary diatribes which are simply impossible to deliver on, like cutting oil prices and doing away with the NEP! These may all resonate strongly in the hearts of the average Ahmad, Muthu and Ah Kow but what cannot be elided so easily is they remain lofty promises which in all likelihood cannot be practically delivered upon!

    This brings into sharp focus the question; what sort of political order does the internet bring with it? Does it necessarily lead to a more informed votership? Or is it simply a very efficient machine to promise everything under the sun to secure the short term goal of winning an election? Central to this enquiry is whether the internet is an effective means of soliciting real and meaningful social change. The fact the internet is here is never in question; neither is it practical for us to hammer our key boards into ploughshares and return to the age of cottage industries; but does it bring with a new political understanding?

    I do not think so. As every indication leads me to the conclusion instead of it being a reliable means of soliciting real and meaningful social and political change; the net is simply a disingenuous device to throw a spanner into the works allowing even the dumb to win over smart. My fear is although the general elections is cut and dried, the long term issue this raises remains unclear. I have every reason to believe, this may just be a prelude to a long drawn out protracted battle.

    The prospects are bleak, as the advent of the net has demonstrated adequately its power to alter the competitive rules of the game; to the extend of fashioning a very malleable understanding of reality and how it may relate to voters; particularly the sort in which myth and ritual were used to reinforce bonds of shared grievances (real or imagined) by votersI am painting in broad strokes off course, but that in a nutshell is the long and short of the analysis – no Da Vinci code there. I understand there are certain quarters who continue to advance the idea that the net did the job of educating the electorate, but based on our observations, most of what was churned out even by Malaysia.kini was closer to UFO abduction than to any sort of enlightened social political discourse.

    What we saw was essentially reminiscent of the Mr Brown vs MICA saga, albeit on a larger scale; the trajectory, pace and dynamics suggested the same equation was operating which led to a clash of two diametrically distinctive cultural forms, Apollonian and Dionysian, the former authoritarian, the latter permissive.

    What cannot denied this time round, is the role of the internet in being able to shape collective consciousness – here, I need to be unequivocally clear; not necessarily as a good force that brings about positive change, but as a very potent weapon that can rally and unite people for all the wrong reasons. While democracy has often be vaunted as a cure all snake oil against tyranny; I am reminded it too can all to easily degenerate into a melee to facilitate a different type of tyranny – the rule of the statistical majority, the internet makes all these condition possible – contrary to popular myth; the net doesn’t as a political forum solicit deep spirit understanding of issues; how could it? It’s just a very ingenious means of disseminating information; not even the variety that’s free from the vagaries of lies or chooses to obviate the cogent and instead promote the popular at any cost. This is precisely what makes it so amenable to manipulation as a tool craft to seize power. What I feel has been greatly underestimated is reading a blog is not like reading a newspaper. Blog readers jump around. They follow links. They move from blog to blog, this new spatial awareness brings with it what I call a form of dyslexia or short attention span that is very much reflected in blog material. They are short, frequently one liners attempt to compress an entire disquisition. Along with this, there is summary news, summary judgments and of course summary public executions. I realized this first hand some 6 years ago when I first started writing novels in the internet, my first few runs faired poorly as they tended to follow book narratives, it was such a failure that I was forced to shave off significant parts of it to give it speed. In certain cases punctuations weren’t even necessary – the result was a resounding success. This may fair well for writers who choose to make a bit to on the side to subsidize their day job, but as a replacement for something as serious as a election process – it frightens me.

    I am not so sure that the internet is the ultimate social and political tool anymore. I have to be very honest with all of you, the facts are undeniable and sobering enough to compel every honest man to re-evaluate his position.

    This leads me to my recommendations; for many years, as some of you know, I have advocated that MSM should project purposefully and seize the high ground in blogoland instead of wasting time and resources ploughing the sea investing on newspapers, the latter only serves to reinforce failure and brings nothing new to the equation.

    What continues to confound me, is, what I have been advocating for so long hardly a novel idea. The model i.e MSM projecting into the net, is already a mainstay strategy in most major newspaper in the free world. While these agents may continue to experience varying degrees of success in being able to garner a cachet of readers; what cannot be denied is the presence in the net has seeded good attributes such as critical thinking along with nurturing a new generation of critical thinkers who are better prepared to face the multi hydra of lies and disinformation in the net. The result is, the good currency continues to thrive, driving out the bad from the net as it evolves eventually into a potent thinking force – the same cannot be said about the local blogosphere, it like the Malaysian counterpart remains trapped in a cacophony of ignorance. Till now the only position advanced so far by some ‘experts’ suggest it is still possible to reverse the rot by investing in newspapers. That I am afraid will surely buy us all a red dawn when netizens will wake up one day and confront the bayonets of cyber storm troops from the empire of officialdom, only because by then even policy makers will find themselves in a bind – and how do I know this? Because I was once the man who sent in the storm troopers, that however was only a game in the virtual, a squabble over imaginary raw materials in non existent planets with a cumulative worth slightly more than a second hand Japanese car. This on the other hand is very real, too real to deny as it will affect millions of people, that simply means if it’s game over it will spell disaster in more ways than I can possibly elaborate!

    [If you want the solution: I want the following $2.2 million, the right to ride my bicycle on the pavement in perpetuity and amnesty from those pesky car coupon aunties for 10 year with a option to renew on 5. This is not too much to ask for a better tomorrow]

    I know something must done – I know, I don’t just don’t know what….

    Darkness 2008

  2. Jean Poj\h says:

    Hi Darkness,

    I happen to be posting from KL in B.Bintang, do you know the place? Good analysis . Many of us have been waiting for this to roll out, but I believe you all seem to be holding back for some reason. The content also looks very water down, there are too many alleys there. I agree with the part where you said most people voted against BN for all the wrong reasons. From the ground. I sensed alot of frustration. However, I dont agree with you that this is the prelude to a long drawn out battle. My take is good things will come out of this. BN will hopefully now pay closer heed to what happens on the ground. Great article and it would be very nice to have Mr Darkness come down and personally see some of us like he did the last time.

    Thank you for your words of encouragement and from Malaysia semoga kita boleh berdikari! Selamat Berjaya!

    And thank you for your help the brotherhood of Bicycle lovers!

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