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Opposition takes the campaign to cyberspace


February 21, 2008

Opposition takes the campaign to cyberspace

As Malaysians go to the polls early March, opposition is taking their campaign online, resorting to blogs, SMS and YouTube, trying to compete with the ruling coalition which has been in the spotlight thanks to mainstream media covering anything but stories praising the government and its achievements.

“As the 12th general election nears, the issue of Barisan Nasional (BN) returning to power remains a non-issue for market watchers because the country economy has performed well over the past few years,” said one local news agency.

It quoted a regional economist as saying there is little room to debate on the Malaysian economy because the economy has done well under the last term of the governing coalition, which, he said, is a big plus for the incumbent in an election with an economy that is creating jobs.

Most business executives, said the agency, expect the BN to exceed the two-thirds majority mark in Parliament with a comfortable margin if they may not win as big as before.

Meanwhile, opposition parties have turned to blogs to get the word out and to circumvent media control. The Democratic Action Party (DAP), for instance, aims to dent the government's majority in the upcoming vote, through Internet.

Well-known blogger Jeff Ooi, who is standing as a DAP candidate in the elections, said news and views on blogs appealed to a cross-section of people and was not limited to urban youth alone, reported AFP.

“Our campaign videos will be transmitted through YouTube because it is unlikely for television stations to broadcast them, of course," AFP quoted Ooi, who is facing a defamation suit by the government-linked New Straits Times Press, as saying.

Malaysia's Islamic opposition party PAS runs its own online journal which features six different online television channels and original reporting on the election. Political dissident and ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim writes his own blog which has news links and videos of his Keadilan party's campaign activities.

Malaysia is ranked 124 out of 169 by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders on its worldwide press freedom index.

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