The Media and Political Change in Southeast Asia
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The Media and Political Change in Southeast Asia

Karaoke Culture and the Evolution of Personality Politics

Jonathan Woodier

Jonathan Woodier’s latest work considers what impact the media has upon the democratization process in Southeast Asia. Has the media had a liberalizing effect or become subject to elite control in Southeast Asia and, if so, why? What role does the global media play in this process, particularly given its conglomerization and commoditization? By examining the communications media and its relationship to political change in Southeast Asia, this fascinating study will endeavour to provide both a regional comparative analysis and a more balanced interpretation of the mass communication media in the wake of September 11, 2001. The book also investigates the durability of authoritarian regimes and the enduring capacity of the media-controlled state alongside the growing sophistication of political communications – particularly the use of PR consultants.
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Chapter 10: Subverting the Media: Piracy, Surveillance and the Battle for Control in Southeast Asia

Jonathan Woodier


INTRODUCTION Despite the sophisticated media strategies of Southeast Asia’s illiberal elites, with information racing round the world at ‘netspeed’ (Friedman 2000, p. 218), their efforts to define their social institutions, their relationship to these institutions as well as their relationship with the global economy, continues to be a challenge. With the Information Superhighway central to the global economy, market economies have to be connected. Governments across the region have tried to put the Internet to use in developing their economies, as falling costs mean access has become a reality for many in the region’s more developed areas (Minges 2001). As a result of its growing importance, no study of the role of the media in political change in Southeast Asia is complete without some consideration of this new medium and the latest developments in its use. The emergence of the Internet as an influential medium has concentrated the minds of Asia’s elites, and they have moved to adapt to the new media mainly in terms of censorship and control, and to project the administrative state into hyper space. As regional instability has risen post 9/11, and the use of the Internet develops, it is a struggle that requires constant adjustment to an irrevocable process of change. As the global economy has moved online, governments in the region continue to face a global ‘Catch 22’. There is a general understanding that they need to open up their economies, indeed, establish virtual connections, to have any chance of partaking...

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