Just last week I attended a talk organised by Social Media Club Kuala Lumpur (SMCKL) and it was their fifth one so far. The title of the talk was Government in the Age of Social Media and it featured some very interesting speakers. Of course, the stars of the show were Barisan Nasional’s Khairy Jamaluddin and Pakatan Rakyat’s Tony Pua.
Tina Malone, the press attache from the US Embassy in Malaysia opened the talk. Unfortunately for her, she immediately said that she wasn’t on Twitter (one of the more popular social media channel here) and I think the attention from the audience pretty much went away with that statement.
She probably does her job really well, but to me, she was a bit off the ball here. It was lots of slides, lots of .gov sites, and it was very hard to try and focus on what her message was. At the end, it sounded like the US Government social media strategy was to create lots of sites! I am sure that is not the case but it would have been nice to know what they tried to do in other channels (other than making websites) to drive traffic to these sites.
And how they made use of the results or interaction in the way they run the country.
After her opening talk, it was time for the main show. The forum between Khairy, Tony, Kam Raslan and Tina Malone. Moderated by Asohan, the forum was as I expected, pretty much a showdown between Khairy and Tony. They were pretty civil though, so no drama here.
Khairy was a very good speaker though, and he delivered his points well. I believed he charmed many in the crowd that day but it was obvious that it is a one-man battle against the old dinosaurs still sitting in the cabinet.
Asohan, the moderator, tried to bring in Kam Raslan and Tina occasionally but when every question was directed to what the government is doing, it was hard trying to find a space for them to participate. He did it well though, and even had some gems that got the crowd laughing hard. Somehow, he gave me the impression that he was like a rockstar (retired one :P), rather than the editor I used to call when pitching stories to In.Tech.
Tony Pua probably enjoyed himself, he has the biggest smile of the day most of the time. But to me, if it was a show to swing my vote, Tony Pua didn’t really do himself and the party justice. He sounded even more defensive about the use of social media than Khairy was, and I thought he would be the one that will advocate more usage.
Finally, we have Kam Raslan, who looks older than his picture on the website. Maybe it is time he updated that site, but then again, maybe he wants to hang on to that image. When he hits it, there is definitely some brilliant lines from this man. But most of the time, he was the “kancil” in the middle of the two “gajah”. Best suggestion of the night was definitely abolishing the Ministry of Information if he was made the Minister of Information.
In conclusion, did I get what I wanted from the talk? Not really, it wasn’t a massive eye opener, the answers were pretty much on the safe side and not stuff you wouldn’t expect. But I did learn that the current ruling party and the opposition is not ready to use social media.
Most of them probably wouldn’t even know how to use it efficiently. We have a long way to go, but at least we are starting.