Although governments around Southeast Asia bemoan their failing ability to control the flow of news and information in the Internet age, the terrorist attacks on the US and, in particular, those in Bali in October 2002, are likely to provide a fillip for the region’s hard-liners, and underpin surveillance states in the region. As culture becomes a major factor in national security and international relations, the role of the media and communications technology in political change has become ambiguous. The Internet allows the high-tech mobilisation of radical constituencies, and threatens to shake dominant political visions and cultural traditions to the core. Although technology has allowed a greater share of voice for the disillusioned, the dispossessed and the disadvantaged, it is also an effective weapon in the hands of the state. With Southeast Asia’s silent majority prepared to sacrifice gains in democratic pluralism in return for security, the war on ‘terror’ will allow authoritarian governments to reel in many of the gains in freedom of speech only recently won and further alienate the Malay-Islamic communities, driving them into the arms of militant radicals.
Recommended CitationWoodier, J., The disenchantment of Southeast Asia: New media and social change post 9/11, Asia Pacific Media Educator, 12, 2002, 82-104.