Former Star editor's research on cybertrooping wins top award

Dr Cheong, who left The Star in 2015 to pursue his PhD at the University of Nottingham, also wrote the column Bangsar Boy in the paper which ran for 11 years and was later compiled in a book. Photo: AZMAN GHANI/ The Star

A former Star editor’s dissertation on cybertrooping has won the 2021 Best Dissertation Award from the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR).

Former R.AGE editor Dr Niki Cheong was recognised by AoIR, a society of scholars dedicated to the advancement of inter-disciplinary Internet studies, for his dissertation “Cybertrooping and the Online Manipulation of Political Communication in Malaysia: The Barisan Nasional Years”.

The awards committee commended Dr Cheong’s dissertation as “an important contribution to our understanding of the use of the Internet as a tool of misinformation, media manipulation and political obfuscation in both a local and global context. This provides a point of reference for taking a new look at astroturf and political propaganda efforts in other venues. While the dissertation is certainly of interest to Internet researchers, it would be useful to scholars in social movements, political action and public policy."

"Winning this award is a great honour, firstly because AoIR is a highly respected international organisation, and because my dissertation was selected by a committee of established scholars in the field.

“I think it is significant that a piece of scholarly work focusing on Malaysia and written by a Malaysian has been acknowledged internationally, particularly at a time when there is increasing efforts to decolonise academia.

“As part of my award, I get to present my research at the AoIR conference later this year, and hopefully that will pique people's interest in Malaysia, and Southeast Asia, as a site for future studies, ” says Dr Cheong who is currently lecturing on media and communication in Britain.

Dr Cheong left The Star in 2011 to pursue his postgraduate studies in Britain and went on to do his PhD at the University of Nottingham in 2015. He will join King's College, London as a lecturer in Digital Culture and Society in August.

While at The Star, he also wrote the column Bangsar Boy in the paper which ran for 11 years. The articles from the column were compiled in a book titled Growing Up in KL: 10 years of The Bangsar Boy in 2017.

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