The Radio Free Sarawak(RFW) has been well received by the blogosphere in and out of Sarawak within 3 days of its transmission. Almost all blogs/web sites are helpful to help publicise its birth and report it as a news item. This speaks volume of the repression of news in Sarawak as well as the bigger such repression in the vast interior of Sarawak where it is almost like an information black hole-nothing go in nor out!
Yet the interior is where the power lies in Sarawak, and by extension, the entire country. The heavy rural weight-age given to rural areas in terms of seats in state assembly and parliament means that the vast majority of the seats in Sarawak will be decided in the interior. And this was done on purpose because this area has been the ruling party’s `fixed deposit’! The voting trend in this area has been unchanging for the last half a century-where voting become not so much a periodic choice, but a returning `festival’ for the folks to get some goodies from the ruling politicians! And over half of the folks are not even given the right to vote!
So there is a job cut out for the radio station as an instrument to educate the interior folks about their voting rights and also to allow them to vent their suppressed sentiments. The only information source for them has been from the government-the radios and TV. Even this cannot be received in all of the interior either due to coverage issue or due to a lack of receiving radios/tv. In many parts of Sarawak there is no electricity supply to start with! Thus RFS does fill in the gap as the much needed alternative and more balanced source of news and views.
After tackling the technicality to broadcast a loud and clear message to the interior the next challenge is how to satisfy the much/long suppressed information-hungry audiences: which range from those who want another point of view to balance the ones from the ruling side, and others who want a totally `on-the-other-side’ broadcast which counter-balanced the ones from the ruling parties. It may end up some where in between -but the opening up of choices will certainly prove to be exciting to the interior folks and those outside -but have much interests to keep an eye on this part of the world which they have great difficulties to access but cannot afford to give up entirely! The faster the interior folks are told of this radio’s presence the faster the change may come!
Let’s keep our ears and eyes open.