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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hartal Utusan

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Image hosting by PhotobucketAs Walski hinted at the end of his previous post, this one is going to focus on how to teach Utusan Malaysia a lesson.

Why do they deserve to be taught a lesson, you ask?

Before Walski get into the why's and what-nots, let him just say that this goes beyond freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, angles which Rocky seems to be looking at this from. Everyone knows that the real culprit behind Utusan Malaysia's pit-bull obsession with Teresa Kok is UMNO. Or at least individuals within that political organization.

Does freedom of speech and freedom of the press warrant using hearsay, and using said hearsay (whose veracity cannot be established) to indict someone, and having that indictment by the press used as justification for subjecting a person to the ISA?

Yes, in all this, perhaps Utusan was merely a vehicle. But a willing one, and therefore also a willing accessory.

With that out of the way, let's talk about Hartal Utusan in more detail.
(more than just an Utusan boycott, and more, in the full post)

Recently, Walski received an e-mail from a reader, Giovanni, who provided a great idea on how Utusan could be taught a lesson. Walski has replicated that e-mail and the details of the idea contained within. It goes beyond just a boycott of Utusan - it seeks action to boycott Utusan's advertisers.

Hi Walski,

I just read your
latest post on Utusan. Like you, I am equally pissed off with Utusan, Awang Selamat and that Zaini Hassan idiot who seem all out to stoke racial and religious tensions. Whilst your suggestion to boycott the buying of Utusan is a good first step, it might not be really effective on its you have said, to many people it is their only source of news and those who read blogs like yours are likely not readers of Utusan anyway.

So, how to hit them where it hurts? As someone in the consulting industry, I would suggest that to hit Utusan, you need to target its advertisers as that would constitute a big chunk of its revenue. Of course we can't persuade or demand that businesses stop advertising both in Utusan and Utusan Online by just appealing to their civic righteousness. So instead of just boycotting Utusan, one should have a focused and concerted campaign, together with other bloggers like Haris Ibrahim, etc. to boycott ADVERTISERS in Utusan and Utusan Online. In a nutshell, here's how it should work:
  1. Bloggers announce campaign to hartal Utusan advertisers starting from a STATED DATE (say for example, 1st November, 2008). It is important to give enough time so that the momentum and anticipation will build up to a sufficient level. This is crucial to ensure public awareness and participation will be widespread, otherwise the impact will be minimal and the entire campaign will not be effective. When the entire effort is focused on an impending deadline, the anticipation will be tremendous and the concerted effect after will be huge. It will also give advertisers time to hear about this impending deadline and to reconsider their existing or new advertising contracts with Utusan.

  2. Shortly prior to the deadline, advertisers still appearing in Utusan and Utusan Online will be listed in all participating blogs (remember, we must keep building awareness and momentum, so that the final action will hit with the force of a tsunami wave).

  3. Such companies can be made aware of the impending deadline by netizens bombarding their corporate emails with notice of the campaign and impending deadline. I think most emails can be obtained from their corporate websites. It can even be spread by word of mouth to people who work in those companies.

  4. On D-Day, all participating blogs will list all the advertisers STILL appearing in Utusan print or online editions. It is important that someone be responsible for compiling and updating this list and forwarding it to other participating bloggers. There must be no discrepancies or mistakes, otherwise it will affect the credibility of the campaign.  Innocent parties must not be alienated in the process.

  5. From D-Day onwards, all netizens and citizens who wish for a united country will collectively BOYCOTT all products and services of these advertisers. For example, we will not go to their restaurants or shops, we will not buy their stuff, we will not visit or link their sites, we will not have ANYTHING to do with them as long as they remain on this list. If the campaign is widespread enough, the effect on these advertisers' sales and revenues will be significant. It also would not hurt to have bloggers generally highlighting and pouring scorn on these recalcitrant advertisers in their regular postings.

  6. The list can be updated weekly and disseminated to participating bloggers by the designated person-in-charge. However, any advertiser who appears in Utusan at all after D-Day will automatically earn a MINIMUM 1-month (or more, up to you guys to decide on the penalty) boycott and free stay on the list until its name is removed 1 month from when its last ad appeared.
Only the craziest or most politically-beholden companies will continue to advertise in Utusan after this. Even then, they will not last long under a sustained consumer boycott action. Hope you will consider my suggestion seriously and discuss this with your circle of bloggers. You all are the ones with the well-known blogs and means to do this. I do not have access to people like Haris but one thing I know, I and a lot of other caring Malaysians will certainly do our utmost to spread this campaign far and wide. Enough is enough!

Thanks Giovanni, great idea indeed.

As of the time of this posting, the following are some of the advertisers that Walski could find on Utusan Online:

This is not an exhaustive list, of course, but what Walski has seen earlier today. And since he doesn't have a print copy handy (and he's not about to buy one), Walski has no idea about who the print advertisers are.

There are naturally some things to iron out - for example, if you already own a Honda or Perodua vehicle, what do you do? And no, Walski's not suggesting that you sell your car or anything like that. But if you're thinking of buying one, maybe defer the purchase until after the hartal period. Or something along those lines.

So, what say you? Is this an initiative you would support? Assuming that we set November 1, 2008 as the start date, that gives us about two weeks to get our shit together.

Comment lines are open and ready for your input...