- No Red Bean Army manning online campaign, reiterates DAP
- Bean me up, Red Army
- Turks Angry Over Dearth of Protest Coverage by Established Media
Posted: 08 Jun 2013 03:23 PM PDT
DAP reiterates that there is no Red Bean Army manning its online campaign, just passionate volunteers who want to see change in the country.
Last month, Utusan Malaysia reported that DAP has been employing more than 2,000 cyber troopers, tagged as the Red Bean Army, on a RM3,000 monthly salary for the last six years.
HARIATI AZIZAN and CHRISTINA CHIN, The Star
I command my Red Bean Army to make Umno and Utusan Malaysia the biggest bowl of Ice Kacang now," DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua recently joked on Twitter and Facebook about what he called the defamation of "the delicious red beans".
The party's political education director Liew Chin Tong, however, is not as amused about the so-called DAP-funded cybertrooper buzz.
"I am amazed that this baseless allegation is still in the news. DAP does not have any cyber troopers. No one is paying for any online participation.
"Our supporters came forward as volunteers to help our online campaign. They are people who want to see change and voice out their opinions. They are using their own names and their own accounts, not fake accounts or names," he attests.
Liew echoes the statements by his party supremo Lim Kit Siang and Pakatan Rakyat leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who have categorically rubbished the reports on the Red Bean Army alleged to be on the party's payroll.
Lim claims that it is part of a larger plot by Barisan propagandists "to demonise DAP with lies and falsehoods" since January.
Last month, Utusan Malaysia reported that DAP has been employing more than 2,000 cyber troopers, tagged as the Red Bean Army, on a RM3,000 monthly salary for the last six years.
As the Malay daily claimed, the opposition party forks out more than RM1.5mil a month on this covert operation to allegedly incite hatred towards Barisan, especially among the Chinese, and attack via social media networks any politician, businessman or celebrity deemed as pro-Barisan.
Lim has refuted the claims, putting out his calculations of the total sum of the purported expenditure over six years, which he said in a statement is simply out of DAP's reach: RM108mil.
"DAP just does not have this type of money although to Umno/Barisan, this is just a drop in the ocean of their funds," Lim claims.
Concurring with Lim, Liew alleges that it is Barisan and Umno who are funding their own army of cyber troopers.
"They are funding their own Ikan Bilis Army or whatever, and they are using their own model to imagine that the other side runs on the same basis. We have no funding for such endeavours," he says.
Umno Youth New Media Unit chief Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz, however, argues that if no monetary remuneration was on the table, how could the volunteers be so committed?
"If they are not getting paid, how can they respond online almost immediately? If they are volunteers, they'd be like those in Barisan and Umno we cannot respond promptly because we don't sit in front of the computer 24/7. We have to do other work," he disputes DAP's claims.
Tun Faisal alleges that there are many businesses that can fund DAP's cyber operations.
"Our intel shows that there are businesses from overseas and the underworld that can pour money into DAP. If they don't have money, how do they fund their political movement?"
The money trail can be traced in the statements made against the party by people like former DAP vice-chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim and former Klang DAP Youth chief Shen Yee Aun, he adds.
"If DAP says they are lying, they should sue them. Or do they dare let it go to police investigation?" Tun Faisal challenges.
One of the alleged "overseas funders", Taiwan-based Malaysian entrepreneur Pua Khein Seng, whose company Phison Electronics Corp was behind the world's first single-chip USB pendrive, has rebutted the accusations of him funding the Red Bean Army. Pua, in a statement, says he is considering legal action against his "accusers".
Liew shares that DAP is also looking at possible legal action.
"The people who are saying this should retract their statements or produce the evidence to back their proclamations," he says, stressing that his party survives by organising fundraising dinners. "And the party does not survive on a big budget."
Liew believes an underlying issue is the entrenched political culture.
"Barisan simply does not understand participatory politics. They cannot conceive how people can voluntarily get involved in a participatory campaign. There is no budget from DAP or organisation to have a Red Bean Army," he insists.
Jeff Ooi, Malaysia's first blogger elected into Parliament, believes that all abusive, threatening, defamatory and utterly senseless comments online are extensions of the chatroom culture which was prevalent in the 1990s. When social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter replaced blogs as the flavour of the month, every Tom, Dick and Harry could post their thoughts, leading to the further degradation of the online decorum, says the IT expert.
Ooi observes that a majority of those who are politically active online belong to Gen Y with ages ranging from 25 to 35, and most hold steady jobs and are educated.
"These cyber activists fall mainly into two groups pro-Barisan Nasional and pro-Pakatan Rakyat. Most are expressing their angst, writing about what they think and talk about in the kopitiam and office."
The new phenomenon, he says, is the political awakening of Gen Y.
"They give little thought to convention, tradition or even decorum when online," he shares, opining that many cyber activists do not know that racially or religiously sensitive issues can be seditious, or that whatever that's illegal or termed as a criminal act offline can be classified as criminal and punishable online.
Ooi also categorically reiterates that DAP does not have the resources to pay for any cybertroopers, what more an "army" of them. "What we have are supporters (who are active online) but they all have full-time jobs."
He concedes that there are DAP cyber activists taking the moral high ground.
"We don't discount the fact that there are some who speak on our behalf without our consent but if we clamp down, then there's no freedom of expression. However, if nothing is done, the entire platform of public expression through the online media will degrade. So, we try not to stoop to gutter politics," he says.
Calling on all online activists to "be responsible, have a face and engage positively", he advises cyber activists to always cross check their facts with several sources, include real names and faces, allow for two-way conversations whether it's positive or negative responses to promote intellectual discourse and to include hyperlinks of the sources quoted in the posting so that readers can form their own opinions.
"Please observe some kind of decorum and never accuse people of being guilty unless you have proof," he advises.
Posted: 08 Jun 2013 03:14 PM PDT
Red bean has become the order of the day with the heightening political war in cyberspace, but who really is this motley crew?
These cyber troopers will gang up against the chosen target and harp on selected issues, which they will do relentlessly until their goal is achieved. Usually they have three days for their operation, says Shen, claiming that although many started out as volunteers, they now work full-time on a RM3,000 monthly pay.
Hariati Azizan, The Star
THE jury was still out on whether the Red Bean Army in the opposition trenches was just a mirage when one of its "generals" made a confession in a Chinese language daily.
According to the China Press report, one Li Shuang had admitted to the existence of a Red Bean Army Facebook fanpage, Zheng Yi Zhi Sheng.
Li had attested, however, that the FB fanpage community which has some 50 members is not a registered organisation and it is merely a platform for netizens to discuss political issues, stressing that they had never issued any comments to provoke racial hatred.
Yet, it cannot be denied that the hostility is strong in the social media networks.
Malaysian Youth Rights Movement (MYRM) president Shen Yee Aun argues that the latest "outing" by Li only proves the existence of these cyber troopers who call themselves the Red Bean Army.
Shen, a former executive secretary of DAP Youth, was one of the first few to "expose" the Red Bean Army in the mainstream media and unwaveringly stands by his allegations of these "ruthless cybertroopers".
"I am fighting every day. It is a psychological war and they just want to break one's spirit and discredit the person," says the haggard 26-year-old at his office in Petaling Jaya.
Shen has no qualms admitting that it is a personal vendetta for him to expose the Red Bean Army.
It was the Red Beans who chose to battle with him, Shen rants.
"My personal vendetta is not because of my leaving DAP. That was so long ago. What will you do if you are in my shoes today? The Red Bean Army manipulated, slandered and created lies about my friends, my family and me. They have started to harass my brother that he is scared to use our surname Shen!" he says.
He claims thousands and thousands of "hate mail" have bombarded him since he came to the defence of a student and MYRM member who received rape threats after she made a YouTube video to declare her support for Barisan during the elections recently.
"They are not talking about facts or political ideas. They are driven by emotions hatred and anger to assassinate my character," he storms on, highlighting the cyber attacks on international film star Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh and model Leng Yein.
Facebook photos of him have been copied and manipulated to disparage him, he claims.
"As an event organiser, it is normal for me to be seen at these social events. These are my friends and business contacts in the pictures and they are not even into politics. But they have been slandered as prostitutes and I am being called a pimp," Shen rattles on furiously about pictures of him with some friends that are being circulated as him living it up in vice.
Shen concedes that he used to be a staunch DAP supporter, sharing that he got involved in politics when he was in his teens.
"I don't know if I was too naive to see the truth or DAP changed after it won many seats in the 2008 elections," he adds.
Who is the Red Bean Army?
Shen describes the Red Bean soldiers as professional netizens who manipulate and misrepresent facts not only to attack the government, but also ordinary Malaysians who pledge support to the Barisan Nasional.
These cyber troopers will gang up against the chosen target and harp on selected issues, which they will do relentlessly until their goal is achieved.
Usually they have three days for their operation, says Shen, claiming that although many started out as volunteers, they now work full-time on a RM3,000 monthly pay.
"Their main goal is to assassinate the character of anyone who supports Barisan. There are many young people who support Barisan but they are too scared to publicly say so because they do not want to be bullied and harassed online," he says.
"Most of all, many are scared that they will be boycotted and lose their opportunity to cari makan."
Many netizens have come out to say that they are fighting for the opposition in the cyber world voluntarily, on their own accord, time and money.
A member of the "We Support Teoh Beng Hock" FB community, who only wants to be known as Wong, says many of her friends feel that they have to do something to fight for their aspirations for the country.
"Many are drawn together because of issues like fighting corruption or saving the environment. It is not systematic and I don't think it is planned. I doubt that they are getting paid either. But I admit, they are emotional and sometimes get carried away by their sentiments," she says.
The arts activist believes that many are sincere but get caught in the political crossfire because they lack media literacy.
"Many do not know how to process information and sieve what is right and wrong from the noise on the Net. Unfortunately, many prefer to believe the possible untruths on the Internet or alternative media than the truth in the mainstream media," Wong adds.
This perception has led to some comparing this Red Bean Army to the Anonymous group, a loose network of hacktivists. The parallels drawn focus especially on their structure, which is said to be "an Internet gathering with a loose and decentralised command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives".
Shen refutes the notion, arguing that the Red Bean Army does not deal in facts but is waging personal attacks.
"No matter what issue you bring up, they will try and credit your source before attacking you personally by calling you a dog, loser, etc. When that fails, they will start to divert the issue," Shen alleges.
Does the Red Bean Army really exist?
Shen concedes that he has no list of name but insists that the proof of its existence is there on the Internet.
"They have jackets and t-shirts with the Red Bean Army logo. When they attack you, their personal profile says Red Bean Army, so you still think they do not exist?"
The admission by Li Shang sheds the contradiction of the statements made by the opposition leaders, Shen adds, calling it a "clich denial".
Umno Youth new media unit chairman Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz agrees that "deny, deny, deny" is the modus operandi of the opposition, rubbishing their leaders' statements that the Red Bean Army does not exist.
"We didn't know the extent of the army because all the insults and slanderous comments were written in Chinese. We only knew after the war was dragged into the mainstream media, and then we got information from internal sources and our own investigation."
Says Tun Faisal, the Red Bean Army can be recognised from their identical traits. "They have the same characters, so we know they are from the same group."
He alleges that they are using the same tactics as the Communist Party of Malaya during the Emergency. "It is revolution style you are either with them or against them, and they bully anyone who is against them."
What is their threat?
"They fight a dirty war and they threaten and harass people. We don't need these people who are disturbing the peace in our country. It will not bring good to the country," says Tun Faisal.
Democracy is democracy, but it does not give you the freedom to create and spread lies, he stresses.
On allegations that it is a story cooked up by his own unit, Tun Faisal retorts, "What for? Why do I want to create this?"
He refutes that they are trying to divert attention from their own cyber troopers who supposedly get paid.
"If Barisan is paying for their cybertroopers, why are their responses to the opposition attacks so slow?" he says.
"Anyway, we argue with facts. When we expose anything, it is based on facts. We don't create something out of nothing. We don't threaten to rape or kill people."
Tun Faisal adds that they will not stoop to the Red Bean Army's level and leave the fight to the authorities, supporting action and a clampdown on the cyber menace.
"They complain about the police focusing on this instead of crime on the streets. First of all, statistics show that our crime rate has fallen. Secondly, is this not crime? Cyber crime is a serious crime too, and if they don't want the police to waste their energy and time, they should stop."
Shen agrees that the vigilante style of the Red Bean Army is harmful. "Do you know the shame Red Bean Army is bringing Malaysia in the eyes of the world? They spread lies about election fraud in the GE13 with a petition to the United States, risking international interference in our country.
"Do you know that before the elections, two Taiwanese singers were supposed to attend our first concert in Penang but in the end, they pulled out because they were scared this army would create fear and attacks to boycott any of their product endorsements?"
THE tag "Red Bean Army" is said to be derived from Chairman Mao's "Red Guards" during China's Cultural Revolution.
The Red Guards are a group of students in their teens and 20s who banded together in 1966 to overturn the "old order" and fight to protect the revolution and preserve their Chairman's Thoughts.
They were also encouraged to criticise Mao's enemies: anyone who was against Mao's vision for China, from writers, economists, artists to anyone associated with Mao's political opponent Liu Shao-chi.
However, the zeal of their youth nearly pushed China into social turmoil as schools and colleges had to be closed and the economy started to suffer.
The Red Guards began to splinter as their beliefs started diverging. Eventually, they turned on each other. Due to the "disturbances" they caused, the Red Guards were exiled to the countryside for re-education.
Posted: 08 Jun 2013 12:38 PM PDT
A television at a bar played a speech by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week in Istanbul
(The New York Times) - The Turkish government blames Twitter. Many Turks point their fingers at a cowed news media.
As protesters took to the streets of Istanbul and other cities, confronting security forces wielding water cannons, plastic bullets and tear gas, the leading Turkish television channels stuck with scheduled programming: a cooking show, a nature documentary, even a beauty pageant. To find out what was going on — and, the government maintains, to fuel the violence — Turks turned to Twitter and other social media.
On Wednesday came the backlash. The semiofficial Anatolia news agency said the police had detained 25 people on suspicion of using Twitter to incite crime. The arrests underline Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's antipathy for social media, which he denounced on Sunday as "the worst menace to society."
Mr. Erdogan singled out Twitter for what he called its role in escalating protests that began last week in Taksim Square in Istanbul and quickly spread to other cities, saying, "The best examples of lies can be found there."
Critics of the government acknowledged that misinformation flourished on Twitter and other social media, with incorrect reports that the crackdown had resulted in large numbers of deaths, and digitally altered photos said to be of victims.
But they added that the rumors spread because the established news media were guilty of a lie of omission.
"Of course there is a dark side to Twitter," said Asli Tunc, a media professor at Istanbul Bilgi University. "But if the mainstream media had done their job better, there would be less of this."
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