Looking Back at Malaysia’s GE2008: An Internet Election and Its Democratic Aftermath


Authors: Sara Chinnasamy & Mary Griffiths, University of Adelaide, Australia
Published: August 2013

Citation: Chinnasamy, S., & Griffiths, M. (2013). Looking Back at Malaysia’s GE2008: An Internet Election and Its Democratic Aftermath. IAFOR Journal of Media, Communication & Film, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijmcf.1.1.05


Prior to 2008, alternative news sources were already established and exerted influence on the political process. They broadened the variety of topics reported, increased informed participation in political culture and presented political alternatives. However, after Malaysia’s 12th general election in 2008, the Internet emerged as a major new player in the socio-political landscape. The impact of the Internet, in particular the influence of the Independent News Portal (INP), malaysiakini.com, was seen as being partly responsible for changes in Malaysia’s political landscape. Thereafter, the Internet’s role as ‘an agent of political change’ became the subject of much debate and controversy in Malaysia. The question of the Internet’s influence is especially relevant given that alternative media sources were predicted to exert an even greater impact on the 2013 general election (GE2013). This article explores the influence of alternative news sources and examines the concept of the ‘Internet election’ with reference to two international examples. It contextualises public debate about the issues and controversies of the 2008 election coverage, and its aftermath, through the perspective of local media practitioners and election observers. The findings are revealing of the distinctive impact of Malaysia’s independent online news sources. The article argues that the democratisation of information has the potential to encourage new forms of democratic participation and to have a significant impact on political culture.


Internet election, Independent Internet Portal (INP), general election, political participation