I always find it interesting when news about Malaysia makes it onto Slashdot. Today, something did make it: an article from CNN about politics and blogging. It’s not about how blogs have affected the political climate in Malaysia, but about the problem endemic with the establishment, i.e. short-sighted stoopidity. From the article:
Abdul Rahman Dahlan, secretary general of the United Malays National Organization party’s youth wing, said all those vying for national youth posts must have blogs to introduce themselves and their programs ahead of party elections in December. All candidates must have blogs. If not, they are not qualified to be leaders.
This kind of talk from the leader of a major political party, goes to show the kind of detachment from reality that these people suffer. Turning a blog into a pre-requisite for candidates contending for a position seems rather arbitrary to me. Instead of insisting on integrity, education, or leadership qualities, they are now turning a blog into a license for political leadership.
The trouble with this kind of arbitrary criterion is that it’s difficult to enforce. Having a blog or not, is not a objective selection. Like I had mentioned in my previous entry, trying to define a blog itself is not an easy task to do. It’s a subjective decision on whether or not something is a blog. So, in the end, the selection process will be a thoroughly arbitrary one.
I know that I’ve previously asked for more pro-establishment bloggers in order to counter the claims of the anti-establishment ones. However, this is not the way to do it. A person should not blog as a license to political office. It takes the whole spirit away from blogging. Yes, they should be encouraged to blog, but making it into a box to tick, is not the right way to do it. But this is just the way that they do things back home, checking boxes.
So, these people don’t really want to have blogs and they will only do it to get a sticker on their report card. So, they’ll just end up hiring somebody to do it for them. Then they will end up just uploading officially licensed press releases from the party. In the end, these ‘blogs’ will just turn into another regular news website like TheStar. Then, are these blogs still blogs?
The biggest danger in this move is that they risk diluting the whole blog space. Where once blogs were the cool anti-establishment tool, if everyone has a blog, then it becomes something very blase. The fact of the matter is that we already have too many Malaysian bloggers, as mentioned in an earlier article, which claims that there are about 500,000 active bloggers in Malaysia. That’s almost 5% of the whole Internet population of Malaysia.
If they want these leaders to connect to the younger generation of Malaysians, they shouldn’t stop at blogs. They should encourage them to get Facebook and Youtube accounts too, so that everyone can pry into their private lives.
PS: The best quote from the article is: But now, even youth deputy Khairy Jamaluddin — who once compared bloggers to monkeys living by the law of the jungle — has a blog.