PETALING JAYA: Satire is a tricky subject to handle here in Malaysia, given the country’s wide range of sensitivities whether cultural or traditional – but local satire website Fake Malaysia News (FMN) has managed to handle it well, gaining a respectable following in the process.
Besides overly volatile topics such as royalty, racism, violence, or death, everything else is fair game for FMN as they take shots at both the government and society in general.
“We sometimes poke fun at religious authorities, but we won’t make fun of the religion itself,” the founders told FMT.
On the condition of anonymity, FMN agreed to be interviewed by FMT via e-mail, saying that the website was set up in June 2012, after its founders found themselves “so bored, we read several local newspapers from cover to cover”.
“It was then that a few silly headline ideas popped into our minds, and we wondered why there wasn’t a funny news website in Malaysia,”
Popular headlines by FMN include “Saudi Hotdog Chain Scraps Malaysian Expansion Plan”, which satirises the recent religious controversy over the naming of hot dogs, and “Blacklisted Pro-Bersih Companies Still Allowed To Pay Us Taxes, Govt Assures”, taking a shot at a tweet by Barisan Nasional (BN) minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan about electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0.
Their ideas come as they scan the major news sites for headlines several times daily and brainstorm funny headline ideas.
“Ideally we want to write topical jokes everyone is talking about, such as pretzel dogs, F1 Australians in their underwear, or ‘strengthening ties’ with China.
“Once we think we have a funny idea, we write up a short article for the headline and see how it flies on social media.
“For us, it’s always interesting to see what people will like and share on their newsfeeds,” FMN said.
Responses to their jokes range from flat to outright viral, and FMN takes the general approach of flinging everything they can at a wall and seeing what sticks.
“Some jokes we think are hilarious have bombed, others we initially thought almost too stupid to publish have shocked us by going viral, so we don’t really know what people will like, but we’ve gotten better at fake news over the years,” FMN said.
FMN follows in the footsteps of well-established satire news sites all over the world, the most well-known being American satire news site ‘The Onion’.
“The idea of a fake news website isn’t new. The most famous one is ‘The Onion’ in the US. In the UK they have ‘The Daily Mash’ and ‘News Thump’. India has ‘The Unreal Times’, Australia has ‘The Shovel’ and Singapore’s satire site is called ‘NewNation’. There are many more,” FMN said.
For exciting but fake news about all things Malaysian, visit: http://fakemalaysianews.com