Review 2011: Most Notable Moments in Malaysian Social Media Scene

2011, what a year it was!

There are now over 12 million Facebook users and possibly, hundreds of thousands of Twitter users in Malaysia. Social tools are becoming more pervasive. In 2011, the tools are a force to be reckon with.

Malaysians (and elsewhere) used social media tools to amplify their dissatisfaction about various issues – from election reform to proposed Bill to government initiatives. Not only protests though. In 2011, we also saw a high-profile Malaysian CEO posting his unvarnished thoughts/opinions on social media, a record breaking tweetup, and a marriage proposal that went massively viral worldwide!

These days, whatever happens offline, the news get propagated across social networks. Whatever happens in social media space gets attention in the physical world.

In the past 365 days, there were many interesting things happening in the Malaysian social media scene. Here are some of the most notable, memorable ones.

MALAYSIAN EMAIL PROJECT The national Email project aims to provide unique email ID to every Malaysian citizens who are 18 years and above. The total investment of the project is RM50 million by 2020. It will be spearheaded by Tricubes Bhd, in collaboration with Microsoft.

After the project was announced by the Prime Minister, a public uproar ensued. It was ridiculed by many on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.

100 APOLOGY TWEETS Back in January 2011, Fahmi Fadzil had tweeted that an acquaintance had been poorly treated by Blu Inc Media. He later apologized but Blu Inc Media demanded compensation for defamation and an apology in newspaper. Both parties however settled the case with Fahmi agreeing to apologize 100 times with 100 tweets, over three days (starting June 2, 2011).

This is probably the first time a legal settlement with Twitter in starring role.

#OPMALAYSIA End of May 2011, the Malaysian Commission of Multimedia and Communications issued a directive to all ISPs to block 10 file sharing sites. This prompted outrage not only Internet users but also Anonymous Group. The hackers group issued a warning about impending attacks on Malaysian websites. On June 16, the group launched Distributed Denial of Service attacks on 200 Malaysian websites (60% are Government’s websites).

RM1.4 MILLION NATIONAL PRICE CHECKER, HACKED On June 7, 2011, the Malaysian Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism launched the 1Malaysia Pengguna Bijak portal which allows users to check the prices of consumer goods sold at 1,255 retail outlets across Malaysia.

Three days later, hackers exposed security vulnerabilities of the RM1.4 million portal and posted details of 2,000 accounts online.

TOURISM MALAYSIA’S RM1.8 MILLION FACEBOOK SPENDING In June 2011, a spokesman for the Tourism Ministry revealed that a whopping RM1,758,432 was spent on developing six social media campaigns to promote Malaysian tourism, drawing criticism from several quarters for flagrant overspending. On the same day the Tourism Ministry made the announcement, Malaysian netizens created a Facebook page called ‘Curi-Curi Wang Malaysia’ – a play on the Tourism Ministry’s ‘Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia’ campaign, loosely translated as “stealing Malaysia’s money”.

In just 2.5 days, the Page got over 80,000 Likes. In less than a week, it garnered more than 122,000 fans, about three times that of the Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia Facebook page then. The message on its homepage said: “We can prove to the government that we do not need to spend 1.8 million ringgit for a successful fan page. We want our mismanaged money back!”

The official Tourism Malaysia Facebook Page has since surpassed its target of 120,000 Likes by December 2011. The Page now has over 300k Likes.

BERSIH 2.0 RALLY #BERSIH2 The Bersih 2.0 rally was a demonstration aimed at ensuring ensure free and fair elections in Malaysia held on 9 July 2011 as a follow-up to the 2007 Bersih rally. The rally, organised by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), was supported by Pakatan Rakyat, the coalition of the three largest opposition parties in Malaysia, but was deemed illegal by the government. The police vowed to stop any rallies from taking place on the planned date on the grounds that all public gatherings without police permits are illegal. Estimates of the turnout ranged between 10,000 to over 20,000.

In the days preceding and following the rally, both supporters and opposers alike turned to social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as platforms to share information in a continuous virtual conversation. The combination of these three was a powerful tool to garner support for as well as to vehemently criticise Bersih.

PURE, UNADULTERATED TONY FERNANDES ON TWITTER In early December 2011, Fernades, the head honcho of low cost airline, Air Asia, traded barbs with the Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad in the press and on social media networks, with each blaming the other for new budget terminal KLIA 2’s bloated cost – from an initial cost of RM2 billion to now RM3.9 billion.

Tony Fernandes used his Twitter and Facebook to express his opinions about the bloated cost issue. He also responded to various questions raised by his followers. Of course, this is nothing new from Mr Fernandes. The AirAsia CEO is an ardent social media user for several years now and post updates regularly on his social media accounts.

8TV RAMADHAN ADS TV station 8TV posted a Ramadhan public service announcement video on August 1, 2011. The video immediately attracted criticism and complaints. It was reshared tens of thousands of time on Facebook and Twitter.

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At first, the Ahmad Izham Omar, COO of Media Prima Bhd (parent company of 8TV) shrugged off the negative reactions by the online community. Within 48 hours, the ads was pull off air.

#OCTTWTUP, THE WORLD’S LARGEST TWEETUP On October 22, 2011, telco DiGi held an OctTwtFest at their Shah Alam headquarters, and in just a short span of nine hours, the OctTwtFest managed to reach one of its main purposes – to break the previous Guinness World Record for the biggest tweetup of 1,935 participants in Boston – as more than 2,000 Twitter users made their way to the telecommunication provider’s headquarters.

COMPUTING PROFESSIONALS BILL 2011 #CPB2011 Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is drafting a bill, called Computing Professionals Bill 2011, which registration and certification of IT workers before they can work on projects related to the “Critical National Information Infrastructure.”

Local tech community go to social networks to express their dislikes of the proposed Act. Vague and confusing details in the draft led to misinformation and misinterpretation. The Ministry issued a press release the following day and held an Open Review Day. This didn’t seem to convince the community about the need of the Act.

This prompted reactions from Malaysians – tech workers and politicians alike.

THE SOCIAL MEDIA KUNG-FU OF “YOK MAN” The Rice of Yok Man, part of a social media campaign by a Bak Kwa (dried meat) supplier Wing Heong Food Industries, is a big hit on social networks.

To date, the video has garnered more than half a million views with over 215,000 Likes and over 125,000 Shares on Facebook. It got more than 250 mentions on Twitter, more than 550 mentions on Google+. The video also received positive comments from many on Facebook and Twitter.

A MARRIAGE PROPOSAL CRAFTED USING INTERNET MEMES In what is truly a heartwarming love story, a man performed an intricate proposal to his girlfriend using of all things, Internet memes. Malaysian Timothy Tiah, co-founder of, wanted to come up with a creative way to propose to his longtime love, Audrey Ooi, so while she was dining with friends at Neroteca, a restaurant in Malaysia, he came to the restaurant window performed an intricate proposal using a series of Internet memes. To do this, Timothy displayed posters with messages using popular internet memes such as the Socially Awkward Penguin, Y U NO Guy, Victory Baby and Impossibru.

The video went massively viral across the globe. It was mentioned on many media sites like Gizmodo, Mashable, The Next Web, and also made it on “Most Viewed Today” list on YouTube.

What a lovely way to end 2011!

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year 2012!

Image credit side mirror.

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