Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Demos Qik in Live National TV Broadcast

Social media is gaining wider acceptance and stories of high profile adopters continue to make the news. You may have heard of the Qikking Congressman John Culberson from Texas who uses both Qik and Twitter to update his constituents and followers with an unfiltered view from inside the beltway. This is interesting story that comes from Singapore by way of the Qik blog where a few days ago Bhaskar Roy wrote,

"On 17 August at 7pm Singapore Time (4am PST, 7am EST), the Prime Minister of Singapore, LEE Hsien Loong, will be using Qik and streaming video live from his cell phone that will be broadcasted straight to television. This can be watched live on qik.com/ndr2008 and qik.com/ndr_2008."
Audrey Tan followed up on the Qik blog today saying,
"The Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong in the National Day Rally 2008 was seen in action showcasing Qik to an enthralled audience... Rather than an ordinary National Day Rally, the Prime Minister of Singapore called this the Multi-Media Super Show. During this rally, the Prime Minister talked about engagement with citizens and pushing for participation through mediums like Qik."

The Straits Times, Singapore's most widely read newspaper, reported the Prime Minister's Qik demo,
"MIDWAY through his National Day Rally address, the Prime Minister fished out a mobile phone and proceeded to film the audience before him in the auditorium. Behind him, on a giant screen, the audience saw themselves featured on the web page of the Prime Minister's Office - live.

'There you are, simple as that. I've just made our first non-political video,' he said to laughter from the audience."

Politics in Singapore have been controlled by the People's Action Party (PAP) which has been known to be a more repressive political culture consistently rejecting liberal democratic values. Lee Hsien Loong statements seemed more democratic by making the point that with this new technology anyone can become a filmmaker and share their news and information with the world. He continued, 'So, we've got to allow political videos but with some safeguards... An outright ban is no longer sensible... This is how people communicate on the Web in daily life. They make videos, they pass clips around.'
Political films in Singapore were banned 10 years due to their emotive qualities that could stir people's visceral emotions and incite irrational behavior. But as the Straits Times reports, "The promise of some political films being allowed was cheered by film-maker Martyn See, who had two of his films banned in recent years.
'This is by far the most obvious relaxation of political space in Singapore in the past 20 years. It will lessen the climate of fear,' he said.

YouTube video description: As part of explaining how his government is opening up to the social web, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong demonstrates Qik on a Nokia n95 to his National Day Rally audience. For the related links, see http://theory.isthereason.com/?p=2299

Bhaskar Roy said this came about through a Facebook connection that he made with Alvin Lai, a student from National University Singapore (NUS), who was studying at Stanford as a part of the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) s. He and Alvin later met and Alvin joined as an extended member of the Qik team. Bhaskar added that, "Who would have ever thought a chance meeting through Facebook would lead to something like this."

It's the power of social media at work.