Malaysian blogs didn’t lead to opposition votes

Posted by SM Maulana

(Asia One) – A STUDY of the Internet’s influence on the 2008 Malaysian general election found no evidence that those who read blogs and other online political content were inclined to vote for opposition parties.

The study, by four academics from Universiti Teknologi Mara’s Communications and Media Studies Faculty, showed that 80 per cent of respondents were aware of blogs, which were popular with the middle class and
below.

“After making the cross matching, we found that there was no strong evidence that supports the notion that the Internet content had moved people to vote for the opposition,” Professor Madya Baharuddin Aziz told Bernama.

Instead, the study showed that the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, which were thrashed at the election, failed to adequately address issues raised online.

The survey of 1,100 voters in four zones – north (28 per cent), south (22 per cent), east coast (19 per cent) and central (31 per cent) – showed that blogs were popular because they discussed issues in a different way from mainstream media.

When ministers and politicians also hop into this phenomenon, they give clout to blogs and online journalism, said Prof Baharuddin.

Among the popular blogs and websites were Malaysiakini, Suara Keadilan, SPR, Harakah Online, Berita Harian Online, Utusan Malaysia Online, Malaysia Today, The Star Online and those of news agencies.

Prof Baharuddin said “digital media warfare” and the preference of the younger generation should be given serious thought, particularly with 1.8 million new voters in the next election in 2012 or 2013.

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