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Laman sosial beri penerangan GST tidak menyerlah - Utusan Malaysia

I had the opportunity to present my research paper on GST which was based on a social media research that we produced last year. A reporter from Utusan  approached me later for an interview after listening to my presentation, so here's the story by Safina Ramli.
KUALA LUMPUR 8 Nov. - Laman-laman sosial yang memberi penerangan kepada rakyat mengenai pelaksanaan cukai barang dan perkhidmatan (GST) didapati tidak begitu menyerlah, malah mesej yang disampaikan juga tidak meyakinkan. Selain itu, mesej-mesej yang disampaikan kepada rakyat gagal menonjol dan tidak bersepadu sehingga menyebabkan persepsi negatif rakyat terhadap kerajaan semakin meningkat selepas GST dilaksanakan. Koordinator Pasca Siswazah Pusat Pengajian Perangsaraf Media dan Informasi, Fakulti Komunikasi Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shahnon Mohamed Salleh berkata, perkembangan media sosial juga menjadi penyumbang kepada peningkatan persepsi negatif terhadap kerajaan di mana media sosial kini telah menjadi platform ar…

US Politics 101 and Trump

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Looks like the American political pendulum swings hard again this year. After 8 years (full term) of Bill Clinton (D) from 1992 to 2000, the pendulum swings to the right for another 8 years under George W Bush (R). The pendulum then swung left in 2008 when Barack Obama (D) won.Apparently Hillary and the Democrats aren't strong enough to stop the political pendulum from swinging to the right this time.Welcome to the new global order.
#USElections2016

Fact-checkers needed to discourage media spin - The Mole

Another interview with The Mole. KUALA LUMPUR – October 11, 2016: Media studies academicians think that one of the best ways to counter media spins is for civil society form a team of fact-checkers.
However, the government must not be a part or perceived to be a part of the team.
They mooted the idea following the recent case of Gerakan politician Baljit Singh who plunged into controversy after a news portal cherry-picked his statement to depict him as being sexist. According to Universiti Tekonologi Mara media warfare expert Shahnon Mohamed Salleh, government involvement would only ruin the team’s credibility. “It would be interesting to see the team being formed by the public instead of the government,” Shahnon told The Mole. “That way, at least people will not perceive the team as the government’s attempt to stifle the press. “But this does not mean that the media is untouchable and should be allowed to continue to spin half-truths,” he said, adding that the team could try and emulat…

Who has the right to rule Malaya?

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"Who has the right to rule Malaya? by Inche Sulaiman bin Ahmad (SBA Publishing, 1946)".
This is the oldest book in my collection. A very important question indeed especially if you consider the historical context. 1946: It was a year after the end of the Second World War. It was a year after the Japanese lost WW2 and left a huge power vacuum in Malaya for a brief period of time, before the British returned.
The pro-Communist MPAJA (Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army) took advantage of the situation well and they came out from their jungle bases to occupy many small cities - mostly in the small towns such as Kuala Pilah, Batu Pahat, Temerloh etc - across the Malay peninsular.
So for two bloody weeks, Malaya was ruled by the pro-Communist MPAJA guerrila forces. I cannot imagine the kind of disaster had they been able to rule for two years or even two months!
Their terroristic revenge tactics in persecuting former Japanese sympathisers, who were mostly Malays, soon gave …

Uber and the neo-Luddites

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[Caption: Economic losers from creative destruction: machine-breaking Luddites (English workers who believed that new industrial machineries threatened their jobs) from early-nineteenth-century Britain. Taken from "Why Nations Fail" by Acemoglu and Robinson.]
Throughout history, from the age of the industrial revolution in the early 19th century until today, there has always been groups or communities that have attempted to resist change, specifically technological change, as represented here by the Luddites.
Today, the 'neo-Luddites' are represented by groups of extreme anti-Uber taxi drivers who  have attacked and damaged many Uber cars. The two men pictured here are the modern day anti-Uber taxi drivers. See, this is why I love history. It never fails to repeat itself, again and again and again.
I have nothing against taxi drivers, except for the few uncivilised ones. Technology has change. Society will change. 21st century is not the same as the 20th century. Wha…

Revisiting Moïsi's "The Geopolitics of Emotion"

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"The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation and Hope are Reshaping the World" (Anchor Books, 2009)
I have read this remarkable work by one of France's leading scholars, Dominique Moïsi, 5 years ago. It remains as one of the best books on contemporary global politics in my collection. But nothing quite struck me of how spot-on his views were, until recently; namely the Syrian refugee crisis, the rise of the far-right anti-immigrant parties across Europe, the global appeal of the IS terrorist group, the rise and the populism of the xenophobic Republican Donald Trump in America and most recently the British fear and anger behind #Brexit.
To Moïsi, the three major global civilisations are represented by three important emotions; West; America and Europe (fear), Islamic (humiliation) and, India, China, East Asia and Africa (hope).
It is grossly insufficient to only be focusing on Trump's racism and his personality alone without understanding the appeal …

Idiocracy and American Politics

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We (America) have become an idiocracy. And it only took two and a half centuries - Joel Stein, TIME.
This is not the first article that I have read about "Idiocracy" and the surrealism of American politics. In fact, I have tweeted something similar 2 years ago (Ha ha). But anyways, if there is one brilliantly stupid Hollywood movie that I'd like to recommend, it's "Idiocracy".
It's just too stupid when I watched it a few years ago but the stupidity is becoming the new reality in American politics. The sci-fi comedy movie was set 500 years in the future but I think nobody expected the fictitious narratives to become reality too soon; 2016!
I think I know what to ask Donald Trump if I ever get the chance to see him;  "Have you watched Idiocracy?"

Self-censorship is a must, say media experts - The Mole

Email interview with The Mole. Story by Amira Nutfah.
KUALA LUMPUR – Feb 20, 2016: Netizens are urged to use the Internet responsibly, now that Facebook, Whatsapp and other social media avenues are playing an increasingly prominent role in communication. Media experts who talked to The Mole stressed that netizens must practice self-censorship to avoid the unsuspected repercussions that irresponsible posting and sharing would cost to the general populace. Earlier, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak in a blog posting advised Internet users to authenticate news shared over social media news feeds. He wrote that careless postings can create unnecessary confusion, panic, and fear, while in some cases, would lead to online scams. “In conclusion, don’t blindly click, like and share things that you see on your newsfeed, without fully understanding the details behind the headlines or the truth about the story,” he wrote. Journalism and media warfare expert Prof…

The Arab Awakening: Islam and the New Middle East - A Reflection

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Like many political junkies of the world, I was intrigued and fascinated by the events in the Middle East in 2011-12. A series of revolutions (popularly referred to as the ArabSpring) swept across the Arab world from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen to Bahrain and Syria. Looking back, I was naive for actually believing that real political change was really happening.

So when I first read this book 4 years ago, I couldn't quite understand Dr Ramadan's pessimism or in his own words - "cautious optimism" over the events in the MidEast. I mean, come on, they have never tasted real democracy (Malaysia on the other hand have had 12 General Elections since 1955). Why not give them a chance instead of being overly pessimistic?

But by now, it is evidently clear that Dr Ramadan's pessimism was fully justified. The so-called revolution was only meant to be temporary. While the revolution succeeded in bringing down Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, promises of a democratic elections and…

US Elections: Of Anti-Establishment Populism and the End of the Political Centre

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The US presidential election is no doubt one of the most watched political events on earth and personally I have been an avid observer of American politics especially after the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Unless you have been away for the past year or more, then you would have read that on the Republican side, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are currently leading the nomination charge while in the Democratic party, Hillary Clinton is battling out against Bernie Sanders to be the presidential nominee.
Every presidential campaign is unique in its own sense. However, the 2016 elections is perhaps the most entertaining and most divisive ever in the history of modern American presidential elections. So what is new in 2016? As they say a week in politics is a long time. So imagine four to eight years.
If there is something that is strikingly clear today in contrast to the previous two presidential elections that we should take note is: 1) the losing grip of the moderates which by and large…