P050 – JELUTONG
Innovation knows no limitation
The March 8 political tsunami could be partly credited to the new wave of internet-savvy voters. In a country with strict government controls on the mainstream media, blogging became an alternative way to reach out to the public.
On the forefront of the blogosphere, was a man called Jeff Ooi. Jeff had embraced technology and was one of the first few individuals to start blogging. His blog jeffooi.com’s screenshots… was well known among technology-savvy citizens of Malaysia. He was also dubbed ‘Malaysia’s most influential blogger’ by popular online news portal Malaysiakini.com.
Jeffooi.com became a household name for alternative views on a then unquestionable regime. BN had been enjoying a total monopoly on the mainstream media (MSM) for many years as a result of the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA). As internet penetration in the country grew larger, so did the alternative news.
Many turned to social media and blogosphere where censorship was difficult to enforce. New media sparked a new political revolution and awakening, one that the ruling Barisan coalition was unable to accept and adapt to.
In light of this change, many politicians from the ruling BN party found themselves unable to catch up with the sudden popularity of the new media. A BN politician once remarked that the internet was not a threat, as people used it only to find good deals like cheap flights and not for politics. Today, more than five years later, many BN politicians are still in denial over the power of the social media.
Gone were the days where issues could be swept under the carpet and never heard of again.With the online blogging revolution, came the birth of Malaysian alternative news portals. The government suddenly found itself perceived as more imperfect than ever.
“When I first started blogging, the US invasion of Iraq was the subject of the day. So I made comments on the war” Ooi explains, “when the war died down, I shifted my focus to local issues. I was one of the first Malaysians to actually blog about the current situation of the country”.
Ooi also revealed that he actually entered politics to complement the Secretary General of DAP, Lim Guan Eng. He wanted to be a part of a team which would be ‘agents for change’. Ooi had only thought that he would be able to win the Jelutong seat with a slim majority.
“We lost the Jelutong parliamentary seat in 1999 and were unable to regain it in 2004. I thought the sentiments was strong enough to give me a victory this time around, but I didn’t expect to win with a 16,246 vote majority,” Ooi added.
After becoming the MP for Jelutong, Ooi got down to work. He managed to solve the issue of a Taoist association’s relocation within 4 months. This issue was left unresolved since the days under former Penang Chief Minister Wong Pow Nee.
Ooi admits readily that there is more to be done in Jelutong. Indeed, the Jelutong parliamentary constituency is one of the areas with a high population density in Penang. In high-density areas, quality of life and land distribution are pertinent issues. Ooi promises that he will continue to work hard to resolve these issues for the people.
“We have to deliver the promises that we have given to the people. They trusted us and voted for us, we have to show them that they have made the right choice,” added Ooi.
Another area that Ooi is concerned about is the current brain drain that is affecting the country. “It is time, we take this seriously. If people are leaving the country, then something is seriously wrong,” he says.