Saturday, December 22, 2012

Vox Populi

Oleh Muda Tengah

Vox Populi?

Social Media users and commentators does not represent the voice of the majority.

Is it time for the silent majority (56% voted for BN Sarawak under YAB Pehin Sri Taib Mahmud in 2011 Sarawak elections while only 41% voted pakatan pembangkang) to speak up?

For too long, small but vociferous groups has appeared to dominate the public debate in Sarawak.  Its members are quick to comment on news and sometimes does reflect the sentiment held by a small minority of the populace.  But most times these groups makes bold declarations and outright lies that may not sit well with the majority.  These groups usually compels government leaders and departments to pre-empt their judgements or to respond to supposed 'crises' as per to the desires of these groups.

Most of the time these groups are very intolerant of criticism and differences in opinion, regularly responding to fair-minded government symphathyzers with a vindictiveness that is akin to bullying.

All of which  might be somewhat acceptable, IF social media truly represents the majority of the Sarawakian people.

To be sure, social media is a force to be reckoned with.  The supposed 'democratising' power of social media is allowing urban dwellers to speak up and be heard very loudly.  The rural Sarawakians however are still left voiceless as their voice have been hijacked by the likes of sarawakreport and freemalaysiatoday whose editors (all anti-government) write as they please and put it out as the voice of rural Sarawakians.

Every urban city dweller in Sarawak has access to internet but social media users, especially the active ones, do not represent the majority of the populace, by far.

And if this is the case, it begs several questions about the power of social media.  Namely is its impact and influence disproportionate to its actual size?  Are ministers and government departments paying more attention to it than is justified?

It can also be worrying when social media speaks so loudly that its voice is taken to be that of the majority by decision makers or when it manipulates public opinion.

Sarawakians and Malaysians in general have to sieve through these sensational portals and its facebook groups to recognize the masterminds and their agendas behind it.  Come the next parliamentary elections the 'wisdom' or 'lack of wisdom' of voters will decide the fate of their children and grandchildren.

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