KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 – Social media is expected to have more influence than ever in the upcoming general election, (GE14) especially among the younger generation, according to social media-savvy delegates at this year’s Umno General Assembly. Pahang Umno Youth leader Mohd Shahar Abdullah said the social media served as the best platform to bring Umno leaders close to the people.
“For example, they can use the social media to communicate with the society on all matters (not only politics), to inform on latest party activities, as well as to obtain feedback from the people,” he told Bernama. To win the heart of the young people, Mohd Shahar said Umno should be more aggressive and wiser in using the social media to counter false news, more so with the approaching GE14.
“I believe the opposition will use the social media as one of its main medium of campaign and to fight Barisan Nasional (BN) in GE14. We cannot control what is posted on the social media, but we must defend what is true to avoid Generation Y from believing blindly the negative picture and inaccurate information spread by those irresponsible, to an extent that they (young people) shun Umno,” he said.
Sharing Mohd Shahar’s view is Federal Territories Umno Youth leader Datuk Mohd Razlan Rafii, who said Umno did not practice the hate culture like the opposition, even though the opposition often played up negative issues, such as on fuel price.
“I see the netizens are more mature and beginning to believe news that are from reliable sources. I believe this will give more edge to BN in GE14,” he said. Like Mohd Razlan, Gua Musang Puteri Umno leader Norfadzlete Ayrani Mat Rosli also believed that campaign or dissemination of news on party activities through the social media would benefit BN in the run up to GE14.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak was quoted as saying in his blog post recently that political players started using the Internet in 1998 to sway public opinion, but it was not until ten years later, in 2008, that Malaysians realised the impact the Internet had in swinging votes.
“Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch said by 2050 the media is going to be totally online or electronic and the print media is going to be a thing of the past. The way things are going, that may actually happen far earlier than 2050. As it is, politics and political campaigns are now more dependent on the online and electronic media,” he said.
Salleh expressed the need to move with the times and become internet-savvy, especially in the media industry. “Even more importantly, we must not spoil the integrity of the online media with the proliferation of fake news because this will create a serious problem of trust deficit,” he added.
The Digital News Report 2017 found that Malaysians are the world’s largest users of WhatsApp at 51%. The report also found that Facebook and YouTube were also popular with Malaysians, with 58% and 26% users, respectively, and WeChat and Instagram, at 13%.
Meanwhile, Penang Puteri Umno leader Nurul Haida Mahamad said the Puteri Umno wing in Penang would use the social media, like WhatsApp, to disseminate its programmes, such as “Puteri Peduli” and aid for flood victims, to the public.
“Such a move gets positive reaction from social media users because it shows that Puteri Umno does not make empty promises, but go to the ground to help the people,” she said. The Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) raised its curtains here, Tuesday, to welcome 5,739 Umno delegates who will partake in the party’s last general assembly before GE14. The Umno General Assembly 2017 is on from Dec 5 until Dec 9. — Bernama