The political earthquake stunned the government which had vilified bloggers and threatened them with jail. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi admitted his "biggest mistake" had been to ignore cyber-campaigning.
"We thought that the newspapers, the print media and television were important, but young people were looking at SMS and blogs," he said.
James Chin from the Kuala Lumpur campus of Australia's Monash University, said Malaysia's vibrant online scene was the result of a unique set of factors including a muzzled mainstream media and relatively good Internet access.
"Malaysiakini could only have existed in places like Malaysia, Singapore or Burma, simply because the mainstream press have no credibility," the political analyst said.
The phenomenon has also provided more space for the mainstream media -- which largely practices self-censorship -- to cover stories that in the past they would have had to ignore, he said.
"The traditional press can justify covering a story because they can argue that it's already in the public domain," Chin said. "They act as a safety valve for local papers."
Jeff Ooi, one of the nation's top bloggers who has now become an opposition parliamentarian, said there were fears that deputy premier Najib Razak, who will replace Abdullah in March, could clamp down on the Internet.
Malaysia made a 1996 pledge not to censor the Internet, but websites and blogs are still subject to strict slander and security laws which critics say can be wielded as political weapons.
Another high-profile blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, an outspoken critic of the government, was jailed for two months last year under an internal security law that allows for indefinite detention without trial.
But Chin said the Malaysian blogosphere is now so large and diverse, with many pro-government sites also reaching a wide audience, that the genie can never be put back in the bottle.
"It's unclampable right now. The Internet has gone far beyond the conventional control methodology," he said.
"Regulators are saying that whatever is illegal offline is illegal online, but there are loopholes that mean bloggers are still having a heyday."
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