The Hindraf saga: media and citizenship in Malaysia
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In the early part of 2008, a major political upset was pulled off in the Southeast Asian nation of Malaysia when the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (National Front), lost its long-held parliamentary majority after the general elections. Given the astonishingly high profile of political bloggers and relatively well established alternative online new sites within the nation, it was not surprising that many new media proponents saw the result as a major triumph of the medium. Through a brief account of the Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) saga and the socio-political dissent nursed, in part, through new media in contemporary Malaysia, this paper seeks to lend context to the events that precede and surround the election as an example of the relationship between media and citizenship in praxis. In so doing it argues that the political turnaround, if indeed it proves to be, cannot be considered the consequence of new media alone. Rather, that to comprehensively assess the implications of new media for citizenship is to take into account the specific histories, conditions and actions (or lack of) of the various social actors involved.
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