(A Facebook picture shows Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri being served turtle eggs allegedly at the Restoran Indah Keranamu in Sandakan which went viral)

Media has always been a significant pillar of society. Media doesn’t just report happenings, it also builds public opinion. This puts the media in a powerful position in a democracy and wherever there is power there is a chance of misuse of that power.

In some countries, powerful media houses are said to have influenced election results by portraying people and events a certain way. In Malaysia too.

The media space has changed a lot with the emergence of social media. With social media, the public has eyes and ears everywhere. They are not limited to camera crews of a few TV channels or reporters of a few newspapers.

Social media is a platform that showcases public opinion such that it cannot be easily doctored. It reflects the pulse of society. Even traditional media channels keep an eye on ongoing social media trends.

In the recent past, we have seen so many top news stories originate from social media. Apart from highlighting issues that are socially relevant and crucial, social media has also exposed the disconnect between the government and the population. People are more aware of what our leaders are up to and exchange notes on how laws and policies affecting them are being made. Gone are the days when the government could pass laws behind closed doors without the public realising it for months. Thanks to the social media, discussion on political issues and implications is widespread and immediate.

Some politicians thrive on keeping communities apart and playing one’s interests over the other to secure their votebanks. As boundaries between people blur over social media, and they become more aware and better informed, this will no longer be easy to do. One needs to be more aware and alert while making speeches or statements. People see through any gimmick done with an ulterior motive and any sign of a narrow mindset comes in for severe criticism, just like the ‘kafir harbi’ issue.

Like all powerful tools, social media should also be used with utmost care and responsibility failing which it can cause damage to the society. In the recent terror attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in Turkey, terrorists used social media widely to plan and execute their attacks, 42 people were killed and injured hundreds of others. More recently, in Sabah, The Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA), headed by Huguan Siou Joseph Pairin Kitingan had to lodge a police report against the “Majlis Himpunan Rakyat Membantah Penarikan MyKad” (Council of the Gathering of Citizens to Protest the Withdrawal of the MyKad) which was planing to hold an anti-RCI event in Kota Kinabalu on May 31, a poster on the event circulating in social media went viral, social media was used to spread panic and fear among Sabahans leading to the police report.

However, with its potential to bring people together, social media also holds immense promise as a tool for social change. We have recently seen many successfully executed protests organised over social media that have made the right impact,like Bersih the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, for the first time, the act of mass civil disobedience ran for 34 hours in Kuala Lumpur. Another application of social media could be to effectively utilize the vast diversity of human resource that Sabah has which is still lying untapped. For instance, in my SIB (Sidang Injil Borneo) church, somebody announces a dental camp in a locality on a date and others join, including doctors, dentist, dental nurses and even pharmacist. Likewise, somebody announces a tree planting drive or a cleaning drive and people support the initiative with their time or resources.

We are clearly passing through a phase of transformation. Sabah is a nation of youth who have a big role to play in that transformation.

Social media is a medium that connects them and gives them voice. This voice is growing louder. It is a welcome sign and I’m really glad Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman has embrace the social media in a big way and he is very active on Facebook and Twitter and WhatsApp groups, and he regularly updates events and photos.

Comments
  1. turtle egg excuse says:

    Uproar over turtle egg dinner for Minister
    Published on: Thursday, November 05, 2015

    Kota Kinabalu: Photos that went viral on social media of a Federal Minister, government officials and political leaders being served with turtle eggs at a political function in Beluran have angered several wildlife conservation groups in Sabah.

    Possessing and consuming turtle eggs are illegal in Sabah and offenders can face a fine of up to RM50,000 or five years’ imprisonment.

    Several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the Danau Girang Field Centre issued a joint statement on Wednesday, condemning the act.

    The Borneo Rhino Alliance, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation, Hutan, Kudat Turtle Conservation Society, Land Empowerment Animals People, Pacos Trust, Reef Guardian, Sabah Environmental Trust, Sabah Shark Protection Association and the Sabah Environmental Protection Association have also demanded the Sabah Wildlife Department to take action against those involved , hoping to send a strong message to the public.

    It was learnt that the photos were taken end of August this year at an Umno Beluran function attended by Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Beluran Umno Chief and Sugut Assemblyman Datuk James Ratib allegedly at the Restoran Indah Keranamu in Sandakan. They said Green and the Hawksbill turtles are both totally protected species under the Schedule 1 of the Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997. The photos were believed to have been uploaded by a Facebook user named “Deadturtles Sabah”.

    Ismail Sabri denied consuming any of the turtle eggs served at the dinner.

    “Of course not. I wasn’t sure there were turtle eggs there because no one ate it, maybe because I didn’t eat any,” he said.

    “I haven’t eaten any turtle eggs in a long time. The doctor doesn’t allow me to because of my high cholesterol. Turtle eggs are among the things I am prohibited from eating, including cow brains,” he said, adding that he only ate fish.

    It is understood that an honorary wildlife warden also attended the event while one of them is a senior official from the Sandakan Municipal Council who had launched an anti-turtle eggs function not so long ago!

    Taman Hadiah Turtle Hatchery owner Alexander Yee said he was disappointed over the actions of the State and national leaders, saying they had completely disregarded the laws in Sabah.

    Although Peninsular Malaysia has no law to forbid the consumption of turtle eggs, the Sabahan leaders should have been well aware of the local laws, he said.

    Conservationist biologist Dr Benoit Goossens, who is Danau Girang Field Centre Director, said he was outraged and disgusted by the actions and wanted those involved to be fully responsible.

    “What kind of message are the restaurant and the people consuming those turtle eggs sending to the next generation, to Sabah’s people, to all of us working hard to conserve and protect wildlife in our beloved Sabah?

    “While a dedicated NGO is working hard to conserve a species, some careless officials consume products of the same species. What’s the point of all this hard work?”

    State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the Wildlife Department is already investigating the incident.

    Wildlife Director William Baya said he had instructed two officers to investigate the incident and vowed to get to the bottom of the case as soon as possible.

    “We will also seek assistance from Sandakan Municipal Council as well and the organisers of this dinner function to get a better picture of how turtle eggs managed to make it to the menu,” he said.

    Like

  2. J says:

    Truths will always break through the darkness of whatever veil that is used to hide it and these truths will come back to haunt us soon

    Like

  3. Shahab says:

    This guy Zakir Naik is a top order #Dolt There is nothing Islamic about most of the things he preach. He is at the best a Saudi funded stooge.

    Like

  4. jimmy says:

    Iskandar, The hallmark of a true democracy is fellows like this or other original thinkers Mahant Adityanath are free to say what they want. Long live democracy.

    Like

  5. iskandar says:

    Like

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