New Information Minister willing to engage bloggers

Kemaman MP Dato’ Ahmad Shabery Cheek was promoted from Foreign Ministry Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Information, announced by PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday.

It is powerful Cabinet post and defacto ‘propaganda’ Chief for the Government.

Shabery is not all newbie and green in these propaganda and ‘information’ work. He is currently the Terengganu UMNO Information Chief and former now-defunct Semangat 46 Information Chief. He was also Chief Strategist to then Semangat 46 President Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah. By far, Shabery is one of the well researched BN MP during debates in the Dewan Rakyat.

One of the issues were raised when he was met at the first day at work, after the official swearing in ceremony in the morning at Istana Negara, was bloggers and new media. According to Shabery, he was willing to engage bloggers and sit down with them.

The Star has the report:

Thursday March 20, 2008

Shabery on bloggers, politics and the middle-class

NEW Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek shares a few quick thoughts on his appointment and the general election results.

Q: The Information Minister post is a contentious position. (Former information minister) Datuk Zainuddin Maidin had his hands full?

A: I take it as a serious challenge that I have to bear. Information is always very important. Everybody wants to know what’s happening in the country and what are the government policies, or how we are going to manage things that could easily be misunderstood by people. That is a challenge for me.

Q: The new media has exploded. Are you going to engage the bloggers at all?

A: Well, I wish I could see them. But I don’t know how many there are. Bloggers can be local and global. They can be everywhere and they emerge every day. They are important. In this explosion of information technology, everywhere is the centre of information. And people are free to express what they think. There is the good and bad about that. I wish we can sit down and talk to them and think openly what’s best for the country. That’s the bottom line.

Q: Your jump from parliamentary secretary to minister has been phenomenal.

A: Politics is not like you need to sit for STPM or before that SPM, PMR or UPSR. It doesn’t work that way. In politics, somebody can emerge from nothing. And somebody can almost become prime minister and then they are nothing after that. That’s politics. Everything is temporary. What remains is your integrity and your good name. And that’s the thing I think that our team is trying to promote this time.

Q: Are you nervous at all about your appointment?

A: Yesterday, yes I was. But today, I look around and there are people around me who share the same vision, the same ideas of what the Government and country should become.

Q: Will the new Cabinet line-up inject new spirit into the Government?

A: There are new faces and young faces. The new faces might not be all that young. But, I hope the people accept this as something that is fresh – a new approach brought about by the Prime Minister. Surely it will bring new inspiration especially to those who want to see current developments truly fulfil the aspirations of the new generation in our country.

Q: Why do you think Barisan Nasional did not do well in the elections this time?

A: My thinking is that it is the middle-class urban voters who shape the ideas and the outcome throughout the country. This also happens in other South-East Asian countries. In Indonesia for example, we see it in Jakarta. In the Philippines, we see it in Manila, in Thailand it’s Bangkok. In Malaysia, we feel it in the Klang Valley. The thinking of the young people in the Klang Valley – their doubts, uneasiness, new ideas – these are what they bring with them. If I go to a kampung in Terengganu, for example, there is not one household there where they do not have a child or a cousin who is living in the Klang Valley. It is the thinking of the middle-class people or the urban voters that is very much going to shape the outcome of the election as a whole. We have to look at this. We have to tackle this. We may be a good constituent worker, take care of our voters and meet them; but if we are out of touch with the thinking of the people here, we may get some results which are out of expectations. That’s the thing.

At last, we have a Cabinet Minister who understands the power of blogs @ new media and willing to engage bloggers, rather than allienate or surpress/combative against them. We hope to see a new era of progressive information dissemination under this freshly appointed Yang Berhormat.

Yes, Minister!

*An update as of 11.55am

Read Another Brick in the Wall’s SoPo Directory as a tool for Information Minister Shabery to positively engage bloggers

Published in: on March 20, 2008 at 09:10  Comments (11)