KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysia goes to the polls next month and this time the campaign is going online, as opposition parties turn to blogs, SMS and YouTube to dodge a virtual blackout on mainstream media.Major newspapers and television stations — many partly owned by parties in the ruling coalition — are awash with flattering stories on the government and its achievements ahead of March 8 general elections.
The opposition parties rate barely a mention, but thanks to the Internet they have begun campaigning feverishly in cyberspace with the aim of reaching young, urban, educated voters.
“They control the television but we’ve got YouTube now,” said 31-year-old Lee Sean Li, an accountant who avidly surfs the Net for alternative news and complains there are only negative glimpses of the opposition in the main media.
Lee was delighted to see parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang post a speech on the upcoming elections, just minutes after Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi dissolved parliament earlier this month.
“I was impressed at how professional he was and it is a clever use of technology,” Lee said, adding that 67-year-old Lim is one of the most “wired” politicians in the country.