Newly-minted Information, Communications and Culture Minister, Dr Rais Yatim, has called on Malaysian bloggers to help inculcate the “1Malaysia” concept, as espoused by new Prime Minister, Mr. Najib Razak. He has also sought cyber citizens to make the concept a success. Dr Rais was reported to have said that this genre of writing, which has become increasingly popular, could spur members of society to work with sincerity and forge unity through responsible blogging.
Besides being critical of the nation's governance, Dr Rais hoped that bloggers could also be positive of the right things being done by the government. Dr Rais called a meeting with popular local bloggers on the night of 21 April 2009. Among the notable absentees was popular Malaysian blogger, Raja Petra Kamaruddin (RPK), who has now gone into hiding. According to reports, the dinner was an extension of friendship, and not a means to cause difficulty to any group that could help develop a thinking society.
Dr Rais, who has been in the Cabinet of five Malaysian Prime Ministers, said that that the young generation were becoming less interested in the print media but turning more to the blogs and Facebook through the Internet.
He said blogs required the government to ponder over what is being discussed online, and to respond to the comments intellectually. However, Dr Rais hoped that bloggers would use accurate facts in their postings, and not use their blogs to make baseless accusations and defame others.
“Their reputation will be eroded if they present untruths because as bloggers, their credibility is important,” he said. Rais said that just like journalists who must adhere to journalistic ethics, bloggers must also have their own code of ethics.
Interestingly, earlier in April, Dr Rais was reported to have “warned” bloggers to “stop writing untruths” or the government would have to resort to legal action. Malaysia has twice used detention without trial on bloggers, namely Nathaniel Tan and RPK. The country also has been known to use sedition and criminal defamation laws on bloggers. However, Dr Rais was reported to have stated that legal action would be a “last resort”.
To this, Kay Peng stated on his blog:
… the government should work harder to adapt to the new mindset. Bloggers are not a special group of people. Most of them are wage-earners, law abiding citizens and citizens who used the internet channel to express their frustrations, grouses, views and opinions.
Most of them are probably unimportant enough to get a space on the mainstream media to express their views and opinions. This is the reason why they find the blogs most liberating.
Instead, the government should not fear feedback. It should not be afraid of criticism and negative feedback against its performance. A government needs to take cognisance of good client service. A good CRM model forbids an organisation to issue threat against its clients or potential clients.