26 February, 2008

Excellence ! Glory !! Distinction !!!

Report card: Excellence, glory, distinction

In the run-up to the 2004 general election, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition unveiled an impressive manifesto under the slogan of ‘Excellence, Glory, Distinction’. It contains a slew of breathtaking promises involving the economy, education and religion, among others.

Four years later, with another election in two weeks, how did the BN fare in fulfilling its promises? Here’s our verdict.

Economy

In order to face future economic challenges, BN will:

* Pursue economic growth strategies to achieve Vision 2020.

* Enhance competitiveness in order to build a resilient and performance-based economy.

* Develop rural areas as new centres for economic growth.

* Exercise prudent and responsible fiscal management.

Four economic growth corridors were introduced during this period; Iskandar Development Region (IDR), Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER), Eastern Corridor Economic Region (ECER) and Sabah Development Corridor (SDC)...read more from Malaysiakini here.


US presidential candidate Barack Obama appears to be able to charm the crowd fairly well on his own. Still, there is no harm in boosting his popularity by getting big names to endorse him, the most famous of whom is probably talk-show host Oprah Winfrey.

On a far less glamorous scale in Malaysia, celebrities and organisations like chambers of commerce and business councils have lent their support to parties and candidates on different occasions. This election, R. Nadeswaran, more popularly known as Citizen Nades, is hopping on the bandwagon to endorse two candidates: the Barisan Nasional-MCA’s Datuk Lee Hwa Beng who is contesting for the Kelana Jaya parliamentary seat and the DAP’s Edward Lee who is gunning for the Bukit Gasing state seat.

“I’m not endorsing the party but the individual,” Nadeswaran stressed. That explains why Nadeswaran has endorsed a candidate each from the opposition and the ruling coalition. “I don’t care which party he is from,” said the deputy editor who has been heading theSun’s special reporting desk....more from Malaysia Votes here.

Personally, I've visited the Web sites so far of the PKR (aka KeAdilan), the DAP, the personal Web sites of the two candidates contesting in my area, PJ Utara (www.tonypua.com and www.chewmeifun.org), and I've also been dropping into Malaysia-Today on a regular basis and checking on my fellow CNET Asia Blogger and MP aspirant Jeff Ooi's Web site for updates.

Frankly, it's all been very disappointing as far as online experiences go, specifically in regard to the personal Web sites of the two aspirants in my area. Mr Pua is, of course, the former CEO of the e-business solutions company Cybervillage. He has a blog and a Web site, but both are, in my view, dreadfully ponderous and lack energy and vibe.

YB Chew Mei Fun's Web site is haphazard, cluttered, with some vague attempt at using YouTube to attempt to catch up with the times. She makes it blatantly clear that her Web site is NOT for free commentary (hmm, why not, YB?).

"Though this Web site is not like the blogs on the Internet which allow comments to be freely posted, it is meant for our mutual interaction, and you are welcome to contact me through my email pju@chewmeifun.org to share your views or request any support or assistance, and we will work these out to the best of our ability."

I didn't particularly find the user experience of the few political Web sites I visited this week, as a sort of dipstick research for this blog, to be great. I dropped by the DAP For PJ's Web site and found it rather haphazard (stuff all over the place) and not really useful for me in terms of learning more about the candidates in my area. Content, in particular I thought, was rather solely lacking.

Frankly, I'm not sure if Rocket TV would be a good name for a political broadcast channel unless maybe it was about the space race. And given that "women hold up half of the sky" (sic Mao), would such a phallic-sounding title prove to turn off female voters who have had to put up with a serious bunch of chauvinistic MPs in Parliament already?

I had never liked Lim Kit Siang's blog, finding it to be rather "old school" in its approach and treating the blog like a Virtual Soapbox, when it really is much more than that. One really doesn't get a sense of the old school politicians using the blog as an "engagement" device in every sense of the word and, if we want to be a bit sinister, as a cult-of-personality reinforcer.

There really isn't much sophistication in some of these blogs as far as using them for "spin" goes. (Yeah, yeah, it's not supposed to be out for spin, but let's face it, SPIN goes into everything--politics needs to sell itself a bit more if it wants to attract Generation MTV, and Generation X--even the world's OLDEST profession is engaged in SPIN, what more the world's second-oldest profession...).

I did like the Web site of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who probably is one of the most New Media-savvy politicians out there. Although one suspects it is probably due to the fact that he's one of the earliest politicians to utilize the Web's power (way back when he was put on trial). It may well also be because he has lots of young people doing a lot of thinking on his part, which helps with the media savvyness. Indeed, Anwar was one of the earliest adopters of YouTube as a powerful weapon to counter the lack of access in mainstream media when he used it to release a damaging videoclip that has been the subject of a recent Royal Commission investigation.

It was simple, slick-looking (call me superficial, but there's a lot of art and science that goes into the user experience, and nice-looking matters!). Most importantly, I was able, using a combination of the Web site and SMS, to find out where DSAI's next ceramah was due to be held in a matter of 15 minutes.

I have not checked out PAS' Web site of late for obvious reasons that they have no candidates running in my area, but the last time I had a peek, I was most impressed by its extensiveness and expansiveness. They have been well-known for their willingness early on in their embrace and adoptioin of IT as a powerful alternative communication medium that enables them to overcome the problems of the mainstream media blackout. Word has it that even as far back as the previous GE, PAS was already using the Internet to reach out to young voters.

The DAP seems to be the only laggard in this arena--as I pointed out to Mr Pua this week via email (which, to his credit, he replied very quickly), it seems a bit strange that considering Web hosting, along with email access, can be had for as little as RM300 per year, why is it DAP's candidates standing in state and national seats for PJ (who incidentally have a dedicated Web site) do not have uniform email addresses, but instead are using various free Internet accounts like Yahoo? All this adds up points as far as impressions go.

More from CNet Asia here.

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