Woodier, Jonathan. the Media and Political Change in Southeast Asia: Karaoke Culture and the Evolution of Personality Politics

Article excerpt

Woodier, Jonathan. The Media and Political Change in Southeast Asia: Karaoke Culture and the Evolution of Personality Politics. Cheltenham, UK and Northhampton, MA: Edward Edgar Publishing, Inc., 2008. Pp.384. ISBN 978-1-84844-178-1 (cloth) online price 85.50 [pounds sterling]; 978-1-84844-619-9 (ebook) $40.00.

Political communication combines communication study and politics and this book is indeed a contribution to this ever developing area. Media control by the state is an important subject and not many books have been written in the context of Asia. Hence this book is worth being a textbook in universities. In the context of democratization of communication and the role of the media in the electoral ballot today, this book provides a ringside view of what happens in Southeast Asia.

South eastern countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and so on have seen the power of the media in political upheavals very much. The role of media in the democratization process is outlined within the pages of this book. Hence it is indeed a welcome study that can surely enrich the domains of political communication. The book focuses on Southeastern countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and even some cases of mainland China. The author cites the role of the 1997 Asian financial crisis and 2001 September 11 attack on the twin towers in the U.S. in controlling information flow. The author also suggests that even new technologies like the Internet and a money hungry public relations industry are used more to control the participation and access of the people to media and information. The growth of an authoritarian state like China and how it succeeds faced with globalization and international relations is an interesting case in point.

The sociologist Anthony Giddens has argued that events happening far away can have a deep impact on our surroundings and hence it is natural that important events happening in the U.S. or Europe can have political repercussions in Southeast Asia. The book also looks at the role of global media in controlling political activities in Asia. At another level it looks at the role of PR consultants in determining authoritarian regimes and media controlled states.

Examining a number of case studies of media and political change in Southeast Asia between 1996 and 2006, the author tactfully shows that the media in Southeast Asia has not become globalized, nor have the local political elites proved defenseless in the face of the powerful international players. Rather they have manufactured ways to continue their control policies with interesting political repercussions domestically. Here Woodier helps the reader understand the role of the globalized and local media in the policies of the developing world.

Everyone will agree the communication media are agents of globalization and decolonization. There has been an explosion of news and entertainment products from the U.S. and Europe bursting across national borders with political and economic implications for the governments in Southeast Asia. …