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Feb 21, 2008

Radio poll gives thumbs up to blogs


“Would negative comments in blogs jeopardise (mengganggu-gugat) the democratic process?” That was the day's question for the daily poll over Radio 24 on 20 February. Eighty per cent of the respondents disagreed as they said blogs acted as a good check and balance, viewers could make their own decisions after visiting different blogs and that blogging was relevant to the democratisation process.

One respondent said some of the criticisms in the blogs could be constructive and likened them to the role of the opposition parties in checking the government. Kudos Radio 24 for broadcasting the results of the poll and the reasons that obviously give a fresh perspective to the antagonism against bloggers expressed by many Barisan Nasional leaders, including the outgoing minister of information, who has control over Radio 24 as well. The latest is a statement by the outgoing minister of culture, arts and heritage, Rais Yatim, that being critical of the government is not Malaysian culture. Of the 20 per cent who responded in the affirmative to the poll question, one of the respondents said blogs had the potential to affect unity. The results of the daily polls are announced at 6.35pm. Our note: we wonder how many people responded to the poll, but the obvious choice of answer is encouraging!

Another breath of fresh air from the station was a news piece on the Selangor DAP's manifesto and candidacy issues. In a 30-second sound bite, which was replayed several times over the evening, state chairman Ean Yong Hian Wah said the party was fielding more professionals in the state, which was seen as their advantage. He also said three women and four non-Chinese candidates would be fielded, and went on to mention the five main issues in the state manifesto: a strong opposition front, clean government reducing costs of living, security, quality education.

A 48-second story (third item out of five during the 3pm broadcast) focused on Pas candidate Dr. Lo' Lo' Ghazali's chances in Titiwangsa, where she is expected to contest. The candidacy was announced last night by the party president at the Titiwangsa office. While it was acknowledged that it would be a tough battle, it was not seen as impossible to win the seat in an area where the party expects to get more support from the women voters.

Hopefully, this bodes well for access to information on the opposition parties although 30 seconds is nowhere near the more than four minutes dedicated to stories on Barisan Nasional leaders. At least three out of five stories on the elections were pro-Barisan Nasional, including one quoting Inspector General of Police Musa Hassan who said that 40 hot spots had been identified in Selangor for the elections. This was rated as a pro-BN story because of the lack of independence of the police force from the ruling party's interests. One of the news items on Barisan Nasional was rather neutral, as it was on the hourly updates on the meetings between BN chairman Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the other party and state leaders.

The top story for today was the announcement of the MIC's candidates for the nine parliamentary and 19 state seats. Radio 24, through a phone interview, spoke with one of the new candidates, S. Murugesan who will contest the Subang parliamentary seat. The anchor, Anne Edwards did a reasonably good job of asking important questions on his opinion of the sentiments among Indian Malaysian voters and his pledge to the constituents.


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