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Asean Affairs   19  July  2011

Social media rocking politics

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     19 July 2011

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From east to west, social media are changing the way politicians and political parties are changing the way politicians and political parties are communicating with constituents.

In Jakarta today, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged Asean foreign ministers to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media to engage the region's citizens..

Speaking on the island of Bali, Yudhoyono expressed support for the establishment of an ASEAN blogger community.

"For the first time, and in contrast to just four decades ago, we are facing a reality where the frequency and depth of contacts between our citizens - through cable television, email, Twitter, Facebook - far exceed the formal contacts between government officials," he said.

"Indonesia, being the world's second largest Facebook nation and third largest for Twitter, knows this very well."

The more developed Asean member-states such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have witnessed explosive growth in the use of social networking and microblogging sites even if overall Internet penetration remains low.

What makes the president’s statement interesting is that Yudhoyono frequently gives mixed messages about free expression and social media.

The ex-general has warned that an "Internet frenzy" is destroying traditional values, has backed a crackdown on porn websites and has lashed out at people who "use online media to spread lies" about corruption.

Human rights activists criticize Yudhoyono for approving a 2008 law which sets tough penalties for online defamation, saying it has been used to intimidate critics and whistle-blowers.

On the other side of the world, the American broadcasting net work, NBC, has just announced that it will partner wit Facebook to co-host the primary debate between Republican presidential candidates in 2012 just before the New Hampshire primary.

Reaching many people quickly and rapidly is supplementing and often replacing the usual costly and time-consuming methods of making an imprint on voters through “pressing the flesh.” A phrase and technique of campaigning advocated by the masterful politician, former US President Lyndon B. Johnson.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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