Malaysians just have to keep their eyes opened wide and their ears pricked up, and they will see how a lot of things are seemingly orchestrated.
Both truths and lies can be convincingly told to the ignorant when they are properly orchestrated. This is how lobbyists work. They will orchestrate the entire story plot in order to arrive at a conclusion.
I have detected a few of such ‘hype’ in the media. A long time ago, it was the mini buses which were finally scrapped to give way to the stage buses. A year or two ago, it was a series of shooting incidents.
Once you have identified it, you know what the conclusion is and who are behind it all.
Like a good lawyer, their job is to cast aspersions on whatever you read on the social media, rendering it no longer effective as a source of information.
The recent media hype talking about ‘fake news’ spreading on social media is a good example. This is because the people in the corridor of power realise that they are losing their ground support because of the extensive use of social media by the opposition.
The ruling party has access to the mainstream media but the opposition only depends on social media to carry their stories.
The social media is powerful. We know that it had led to the political tsunami in 2008 where Umno and Barisan Nasional lost five states in peninsular Malaysia. For the first time, social media such as Facebook and the blogs were used by members of the opposition to expose the corruption involving BN leaders.
Mainstream media such as the New Straits Times was badly hit. Even The Star felt the pressure, because readership dropped, and was said to be overtaken by online media such as Malaysiakini.
Put yourself in the shoes of the politicians on the BN side. What would you do?
One way to kill the influence by the opposition on the social media is to discredit the media. To discredit the social media, one has to first spread fake news that creates alarm (climax), then come out with a message that tells people the news is fake (anti-climax).
It is very much like the boy who cried wolf. After the second round of shouting, “Wolf! Wolf!” the villagers no longer believed his cry of distress. The same strategy is used by the lobbyists to discredit the social media.
Around the end of last year, there were messages that said that electricity tariffs and petrol prices were expected to go up again. These messages went viral and people were cursing in their hearts. Then came the message, ‘Fake’ on the same posters.
There was even a website specially created with the URL http://telegraph-tv.co.uk/ which no longer exists. It was more focused towards Malaysian politics, with of course, one or two that spoke about the former Thailand prime minister’s death (fake news!)
I suspect that the owner of the website realised that it was unsustainable and people knew the intents of the website straightaway. It was however, a smart way of trying to confuse the Malaysian public using fake news only to make fun of them.
It claimed that former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had passed away at the age of 91. I had the privilege of verifying the facts with his daughter, Marina.
Before we realised it, The Star came out with a section called, ‘True or Not’. Then Multimedia and Communications Minister Minister Salleh Said Keruak launched, ‘Tidak Pasti, Jangan Kongsi’(bingo!) with the idea of preventing the spread of what it claims to be false information.
It all culminated with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak then asking people “not to spread false information through social media and by former leaders with the aim to topple the democratically elected government is a new threat to the country that needs to be countered.”
Again, Najib is talking about fake news yesterday in his pre-election campaign. I believe this will be the theme that will be harped upon in the lead-up to the next general election. This is the only defence that Najib can make against worldwide news of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
Therefore, you should not be surprised to wake up one morning to read the headlines: ‘Trump orders investigation into 1MDB stopped’ or ‘Obama and Malaysian opposition in cahoots to demonise Najib’. The most unthinkable headlines will emerge!
And, oh yes, even the foreign investigators who are tracking on the money trail will be demonised as though they are paid agents of George Soros or the Jews. Malaysians are too familiar with the same story being peddled by the same people that it is not difficult to know who to trust and who not to trust.
In fact, by now, I suspect most urban voters already know for whom they will be voting.
Another orchestrated series of messages?
Over the past six months, I have been observing this trend. There were a number of messages that were intentionally generated to confuse the Malaysian public.
The latest is with the visit by the King of Saudi Arabia to Malaysia. The purpose of the visit was clear to most people - Saudi Arabia is in financial doldrums due to lower petrol prices. The trip is therefore to sell a stake of Saudi Aramco, the country’s national petroleum company.
The last time that I wrote to express my scepticism about Saudi investments, some readers remarked that there is a lot of fluff with Saudi’s announcements even in the past. My question is - could this be a face-saver for the nation that has to go around trying to sell its stake in Saudi Aramco?
While we welcome any form of investment from around the world, we do not appreciate the lies that we are being told time and again. A soft loan obtained from a world power, for example, was packaged as an investment, but it did not make sense for any investor to even think of investing in a project that is hardly profitable.
Most of us received the news of the signing of memorandum of understanding between Saudi Aramco and Petronas with a pinch of salt, expecting the investment to be called off at the opportune time. When it is called off, the blame will rest squarely on the opposition again.
Is this not the same game being played again and again?
I did not give it hardly more thought than this, until I read what I think is nothing but a most prepoeterous allegation by a Malaysian politician and son of former works minister, S Vell Paari.
The MIC treasurer-general claimed that people attempting to sabotage a US$7 billion investment by Saudi Aramco is equated to “a new form of terrorism” and tantamount to treason.
This is a very serious allegation made by the MIC politician. Treason is, in fact, punishable by death. The definition of terrorism has also been stretched to include politicians who try to speak up on behalf of the people.
His intentions are clear: “This heinous act of treason against our beloved country must be condemned by all Malaysians and must never be tolerated.”
The general election is near. With this one statement, if we buy into the plot, we would condemn anyone who spoke up about the US$7 billion investments.
I would put it this way - if Saudi Aramco pumps US$7 billion into the Malaysian economy, unlike what their past records show, I would be the first one to salute and welcome the investors!
Until that happens, it is hard for me to buy the news that Saudi Aramco will be investing big money in Malaysia when their country is already in the financial doldrums.
Whatever said, my fellow Malaysians, you just have to watch and read more in order to gain more insights into the strategies used by the propagandists to win your votes.
STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008. -Mkini