Nation and Internet : Malaysia and the multimedia super corridor
Leong, Susan (2007) Nation and Internet : Malaysia and the multimedia super corridor. In ARC Cultural Research Network Asian Media, Culture and Society Masterclass, 24-25 September 2007, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. (Unpublished)
As part of a development plan-in-progress spanning a total of 25 years (1996 to 2020), Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor MSC provides a unique opportunity to witness a brief and microcosmic unfolding of that process which Lewis Mumford lays out in exhaustive detail in Technics and Civilization (Mumford, 1963). What makes it doubly interesting is the interlocking of national imagining, destiny and progress with a specific group of technologies, information and communication technologies (ICT), of which the Internet is part. This paper casts Malaysia’s development and implementation of the MSC as the core round which an enquiry of the association between the nation and the Internet is woven.
I argue here that there are 3 dissonances that occur within the relationship between the Malaysian nation and the Internet. The first of these arises from the tension between the premises underlying techno-utopianism and pro-Malay affirmative action. The second is born of the discordance between the “guaranteed” freedom from online censorship and the absolute punitive powers of the state. The third lies in the contradiction between the Malaysian nation, as practiced through graduated sovereignty and its pro-Bumiputera affirmative action. Together, these three comprise the inflections that the Internet has on Malaysia. Further, I contend that aside from adding to the number of ways in which the nation is understood and experienced, these inflections also have the potential to disrupt how the nation is lived. By lived I mean to denote the realisation of the nation that occurs in and through everyday life.
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