Friday 17 June 2011

On Facebook, protest grows against Yen Yen

KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — A spontaneous Facebook campaign started by critics of Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen has drawn the support of nearly 90,000 Malaysians, almost a triple of those who follow her ministry’s official page.

The campaign kicked off on Tuesday evening, shortly after it was revealed that the ministry had spent a whopping RM1.8 million to manage its Facebook accounts.

While the ministry’s following in its official Facebook page “Tourism Malaysia - Cuti-Cuti 1 Malaysia” barely grew over the week, a protest page entitled “Curi-curi Wang Malaysia” saw its numbers soar in the thousands.

As at 11.50am this morning, “Curi-curi Wang Malaysia”, which was started anonymously at 6.04pm on Tuesday, drew 87,809 fans. The ministry’s page, which was started in May, had only drawn 35,042 fans.
This latest public uprising via the popular social networking site joins a host of other online protests, including one against the government’s plan to build a RM5 billion mega-tower, another to protest the Lynas refinery plant and one against the proposed 1 Malaysia email.

According to a note posted by Curi-curi Wang Malaysia’s administrators yesterday, the page attracted 19,705 fans within 24 hours of its launch, then leapt to 65,870 fans in 48 hours, as dissent began to grow.
“Bravo! Malaysians. We need to gather more voice and put our hands together to fight for our money,” the page’s administrators said.

They also urged Facebook users to click “like” on their page, saying this would prove to the government that managing such an account does not require such a high sum.

“LIKE this page. We can prove to government we no need to spend RM1.8M for a success fan page. We want our mismanaged money back!

“This page created with purpose to voice against Malaysia Tourism Ministry who spent RM1,758,432 for a simple facebook fan page with 6-simple apps (cost RM293,072 each).

“Facebook is FREE. Don’t cheat our money in such stupid way and treat us like idiots. Suspend the contract and RETURN OUR MONEY!” it said.

The debacle began when Deputy Tourism Minister James Dawos Mamit revealed in Parliament to DAP’s Rasah MP Anthony Loke that RM1,758,432 was spent on developing six Facebook pages to promote Malaysia’s tourism.

He said each Facebook page cost RM293,072 — Cuti-Cuti 1 Malaysia, Citrawarna 1Malaysia, Karnival Jualan Mega 1 Malaysia, Festival Pelancongan Seni Kontemporari 1 Malaysia, Kempen 1 Malaysia Bersih and Fabulous Food 1 Malaysia.

Yen Yen has since blamed DAP for “distorting” facts, claiming that the sum was spent for an “integrated social media campaign”. The RM1.8 million, she said, would cover the cost of six different campaigns over seven months, and includes the cost for contests and advertising on Google and Facebook.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today that the Cabinet would seek an explanation from her over the matter.

He said that if the tourism minister’s explanation was not satisfactory, the government might investigate the matter.

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