Jan 22 – With the explosion of Bawani’s episode, the new media in Malaysia has entered an exciting new phase. What is important news and which one is relevant to Malaysians is now decided by the people themselves and not the government run information channels or even the opposition slanted news websites and blogs.
People are not interested anymore in news that is channeled through government agencies like TV and Radio. They are also not interested in printed media such as New Straits Times, Star and Utusan Malaysia which are controlled by the Barisan Nasional component parties.
In recent past, with the advent of bold and transparent news portals like Malaysiakini, it was an era of news portals and blogs that created what’s news!
However, with the social media like facebook and twitter expanding at a hectic speed, it is now the turn of people to decide what is important news for them and what is the news that they want to share and appreciate.
What transpired on the fateful day between Sharifah and Bawani at University Utara is not something new in Malaysian context.
It is to everyone’s knowledge that such seminars are held at universities frequently to keep the student minds in tandem with government policies. It is a known fact that opposition leaders are not allowed inside our Malaysian universities to hold talks or forums.
In comparison, the government ministers and BN linked parties and NGO’s frequently hold forums and talks and as Bawani pointed out, in most cases students are forced to attend these functions.
When the video clip on the war of words between Bawani and Sharifah was posted on facebook and you tube, people decided that this is something that their friends and others should be aware of and consequently the video went viral.
No one could stop it! There was no need for a print media license from the Home Ministry; there was no need for approval from the chief editors; there were no English pundits to edit and correct the texts; it was pure and raw news that was sent across thousands of individuals through the social media. For those without connection to social media it was ‘you tube’ that became the channel to disseminate the required information.
Overnight, people decided that this is an important piece of news that should go to all Malaysians and it happened. Within few days the video clip became a national issue because of its content.
Only then the mainstream media and the news portals began highlighting the issue.
Since it was a video clip content there was no room for denials and counter statements like “I was misquoted”. It was for everyone to see and judge for themselves. What was surprising was that most of the Malaysians concurred with one another and were in unison, irrespective of their religious or racial backgrounds.
It is interesting and coincidental that the video clip also contained some of the pertinent and current issues bugging the minds of Malaysians: free university education, freedom of speech, 1Malaysia policy, PTPTN loans, arrogance of forum leaders and organisers, Ambiga Seenivasan and so on.
Bawani case a prelude to GE-13?
With the GE-13 just weeks away, Bawani’s episode clearly gives us a glimpse of what is yet to come. Bawani’s video clip has opened the flood gates and has given hope and confidence to people that their future can be decided by themselves.
People have become suddenly aware that when their rights are suppressed, when their speeches are muzzled and when their writings are blacked out, it is not the end of the world and there are always openings for their views to be heard, more importantly to be shared!
During the forthcoming GE-13, the social media will take over the nation by storm. Twitters will be flying across, conveying what is happening in every corner of the country. Every day, video clips of speeches by politicians will be posted on face book and you tube instantaneously.
And when people decide something is important and must be known to others, it will go viral.
It is not only the outcome of GE 13 that will be decided by the people but also the news and views that are going lead us towards that outcome.
In that context, the timely explosion of Bawani’s episode has paved the way for people to understand and prepare themselves for the use of social media during the historical GE-13 which is expected to change the course of our nation’s history.