KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 – Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak today urged leaders at the grassroots to play a bigger and more responsible role in disseminating the truth and correcting the negative perception of the people who he said were often confused by the opposition. The prime minister said the opposition often manipulated facts and spread untruth through the social media so much so that the untruth was seen as the truth and the government often became the victim in this game of perception.
As such, he said, the leaders at the grassroots who were closest to the people – such as representatives of village development and security committees, federal village development and security committees and Orang Asli village development and security committees – should remain efficient in these challenging times.
“Tell the villagers not to be fooled by what they are fed on the social media. There is much untruth and many views on social media. Differentiate between opinions, facts and reality. That’s our duty today. It was different in the past, then there was no social media, and the role of village chiefs and village committee secretaries was not so heavy and complex as it is today.
“Today, the role is different. We must understand the new battlefield – social media – and know how to counter the war of perception and read the people’s mind,” he said when opening a convention of village committees and officiating the Anugerah Desa Perdana 2017 awards at the Putra World Trade Centre here.
Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Deputy Minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi were among the leaders who attended the convention along with over 10,000 village committee representatives from around the country.
Najib said the opposition untruth and propaganda came in various ways, some to the extent of desperate opposition MPs circulating photographs of logging tracks in Sarawak and captioning them as the development that the federal government had brought there.
“That is definitely an untruth because the rural roads of today are much better than that. In fact, we have built the Pan Borneo Highway network without incurring toll charges for Sabah and Sarawak as a gift for their support for us,” he said. Najib said the untruth did not end there for he and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, were not excluded from being the target of the opposition slander.
He said that during a visit to China when he was in his hotel room with Rosmah, several ministers and the relevant envoy, a photograph taken then was manipulated and circulated on social media stating that his wife attended a Cabinet meeting in Putrajaya.
“That’s why we have to tell the people that they have to scrutinise every piece of news that they deliver to the people. Islam also recommends that we use the ‘tabayyun’ concept of investigating and checking the news before delivery,” he said. In this regard, Najib called on all quarters to be more rational when they received any piece of news, including on national development, because the people had to be made aware that any development plan usually took some time for implementation.
The Prime Minister said the people should also realise that the government faced restrictions beyond its control such as the global oil price-related recession that affected the national revenue and economy. “From the first prime minister to the sixth, we need continuity to achieve what we aspire for … we need time. Sometimes, the country is affected by the global economic recession, which is beyond our control.
“The fall in oil prices is beyond our control. I am surprised that it does not happen in other countries that when fuel prices rise the leaders are blamed for it. However, in Malaysia, when fuel prices go up, the Prime Minister is criticised. It is not because of the Prime Minister. Even Saudi Arabia is unable to control the world oil prices.
Najib said the grassroots leaders should educate the people to understand the relationship between global and national issues so that they knew the challenges the government faced before they arrived at any conclusion. “I am sure the people will realise that the government of today is the best government for them, especially the rural community. In terms of personal commitment, I will not neglect rural development.
“Once the question of providing basic rural amenities is done, we will consider raising the income of the rural community. This is our government that is always sensitive to the needs of the rural community,” he said. At the event, Najib announced a group insurance scheme for all the village committees that will come into force early next year and benefit about 265,000 people nationwide.
The Prime Minister also launched the village committee identity card which, among others, offers discounts to the holders at several selected places, as proof of the government commitment to take charge of their welfare. The Prime Minister also presented certificates to the participants of a Rural Governance Certificate Programme, a collaborative effort between the Institute for Rural Advancement (INFRA) and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL).
Kampung Baru Kemasik in Terengganu was adjudged the winner of the national-level Anugerah Desa Perdana 2017 award for the Traditional Village category, which comes with cash of RM100,000 and projects worth RM600,000. Kampung Pengkalan Tereh in Johor was the winner in the Orang Asli Village category and Rumah Bengau, Ng Sut, Kapit, in Sarawak in the Longhouse category. Each village received cash of RM50,000 and projects worth RM100,000. A total of 582 villages took part in the competition at the district level, 159 at the state level and 23 at the national level. — Bernama