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Politics 101: Social Media War – Strong PH Need to Act Smarter

Fahmi Fadzil Shocked Press Conference Social Media

One of the most iconic images in social media of the newly minted Minister of Communication & Digital, YB Fahmi Fadzil was his surprised reaction when he got a call in the middle of a press conference telling him that the Prime Minister wants to see him now trigging some criticism on press conference protocols. Image source: Twitter.

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PH Social Media Responses

It is an established fact that Pakatan Harapan had lost the war when it comes to using social media to attract voters in the last General Elections. There was never a big push within Pakatan Harapan coalition members to maximize the use of social media despite the overwhelming warning from many:-

PAS’ International Affairs and External Relations Council chairman Muhammad Khalil Abdul Hadi has attributed the Islamist party’s victory under Perikatan Nasional (PN) in 49 seats during the 15th general election (GE15) to the social media platform TikTok.

Citing an unnamed analyst, Muhammad Khalil — who is also the son of party president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang — said this showed that political Islam has gained popularity in Malaysia and the “conservative religious politics” of PAS are becoming more attractive among young and first-time voters.

(Source: Malay Mail)

It was found subsequently that a number of news on social media namely on TikTok that was anti-Pakatan were bordering misinformation, lies, and slander and some of it is now under police investigation or has been banned:-

More than 1,000 videos were banned on TikTok the week after the 15th general election (GE15) had concluded, says communications and digital minister Fahmi Fadzil.

At a press conference here, Fahmi said more than 800 videos were banned from Nov 12 to Nov 18, during campaigning for GE15, while some 175 videos were taken down on polling day itself on Nov 19.

Meanwhile, over a thousand videos had been banned from Nov 20 to Nov 25. The minister said the videos had been blocked automatically through TikTok’s artificial intelligence.

(Source: Free Malaysia Today)

And finally, after all the sickening misinformation, lies, and slanders that were circulated on social media and made during the election campaign, there is finally a lawsuit made:-

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has filed a lawsuit against Perak PAS commissioner Razman Zakaria over a speech he made allegedly linking the prime minister with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) culture and claiming he supported communist ideology.

Based on his statement of claim, Anwar as plaintiff claimed that on Nov 6, the defendant made a speech while campaigning during the 15th General Election at Tebuk Pancur night market, which was broadcast live on the defendant’s Facebook under the user name “Haji Razman Zakaria” and was viewed over 94,400 times, received over 5,100 reactions, 429 shares and over 2,600 comments till Monday (Dec 5).

(Source: The Star)

Of course, a bulk of the attack on social media has been against DAP as a whole and DAP politicians. The extent of the slander against DAP is unbelievable and yet it was a surprise that DAP chose to remain silent and non-offensive. Many were not happy with DAP’s passive response to the open slanders but DAP had a better sense of viewing these slanders:-

By accusing DAP of Islamophobia, PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang has shown his hand in trying to pit Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) parties against one another to prevent the “unity government” from working, Anthony Loke Siew Fook said today.

The DAP secretary-general added that his party will respond to Abdul Hadi’s claims in due course, Utusan Malaysia reported this afternoon.

(Source: Malay Mail)

Hadi Awang has been called by the police on his allegations that DAP promotes Islamophobia and before that, on his allegations that the non-Muslims and non-Bumiputeras were at the root of corruption. In addition to the police investigations, now that the Unity Government is in place, DAP must start looking into civil suits against the many slanders that have taken place.

Social Media Updates on Twitter

Frankly speaking, not all of the Pakatan Harapan Ministers have embraced the importance of portraying the right image in social media. Just see some of the samples here.

And

To be fair, it is their first time in the limelight for the newly minted Minister of Education & Minister of Health, and considering that these are 2 critical ministries with a lot of high expectations. Both YB Fadlina and YB Dr. Zaliha have pre-empted that they will need some time to understand the issues that need to be resolved and meet the relevant stakeholders before coming up with new directions under the respective ministries.

The issue however they communicate what they are paid to do with taxpayers’ money and not show something that is not trivial and unnecessary. Just take a look at the seasoned DAP ministers’ updates on the social media

And

YB Anthony Loke who heads the Ministry of Transport and YB Hannah Yeoh who heads the Ministry of Youth & Sports has years of experience and know-how well to use social media to the maximum effect. It is pretty much more focused on work than anything else which is what concerned citizens want to see.

But there are some exceptions, especially with young, eager elected politicians to do service like YB Thulsi Manogaran who is the assemblywoman for the state constituent of Buntong in Perak. Her social media pages have been on the dot, focussing on her service and meet-ups with her voters.

PAS Social Media non-muslim

It is likely that PN has gotten a professional consultant to advise them on campaigns on social media as it looks professional and the coverage is complete. Just look at the various social media platforms that are covered by PN and the infographic is crisp and clear. Image source: Twitter

PN Approach To Non-Muslims

Although PAS in particular has been very critical of DAP without any valid reasons, their attack on non-Muslims and non-Malays has been subtle but very clear from Day 1. In the states under their administration, they have banned licensed gambling and are considering extending the ban in the states that they have just taken over:-

The Perlis government will carry out studies before deciding on whether to cease issuing licences for gambling outlets, including 4D outlets, in the state.

Menteri Besar Mohd Shukri Ramli said the state government would hold talks with the relevant stakeholders in carrying out the studies.

“Please give us the chance to carry out the studies from time to time and InsyaAllah, we will decide on the policy later.

Prior to this, all Pas-led state governments in Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu had stopped renewing operating licences for 4D gambling outlets.

Following the formation of the Perlis PN government, the state has been under pressure to adopt a similar policy.

(Source: NST)

And just to highlight the fear of PAS taking the rein of the Federal Government, the fact that it caused a huge dent in the share market shows that most do not believe PAS will be fair to the non-Muslims when they are really in power:-

As the leading political parties negotiate for a coalition they could work with to form the federal government following the just-concluded 15th general election (GE15), fears that policy changes under a more conservative administration could curtail the operations of gaming companies, number forecasting operators (NFOs) and breweries that have contributed RM1.86 billion in income taxes in the last two financial years, continue to weigh on the market.

Since Monday (Nov 21), a total of RM3.38 billion have been wiped out from the market capitalisation of the six casino and gaming operators, and breweries listed on Bursa Malaysia, indicating uneasiness among investors to the strong showing by Islamist party PAS in GE15, which was held on Nov 19 (a Saturday).

Based on their annual reports, Genting Bhd, Genting Malaysia Bhd, breweries Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd and Heineken Bhd, and NFOs Sports Toto Bhd and Magnum Bhd have paid a combined RM792.03 million and RM1.07 billion in income taxes in FY2021 and FY2020, respectively.

(Source: The Edge Markets)

Things seem to be changing with recent social media campaigns focussing on how PAS will not intrude into the lifestyles of the non-Muslims, it remains to be seen in actual action by PAS. In addition to calls to ban licensed gambling, PAS has embarked on calls for a total ban or control on alcohol & foreign concerts, and others that are normal & legal for non-Muslims.

Thus it was not a big surprise to see that billions have been wiped out from the market capitalization when it s apparent PAS will be the next Federal Government. In other words, it is just bad news for the economy.

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One of the obvious characteristics of PAS is their stand which often differs depending on who is their political partners, Now that DAP is on the opposite side of politics, it has been a norm for PAS instead of talking about the economy & cost of living, to create lies and attacks on DAP who fortunately have a better sense of politics & better class of politicians who focus on substance than form. 

Consistent Attack on Pakatan & DAP

Although PAS seems to be trying to entice the non-Muslims and non-Malays to be more acceptable to the political party on social media one side, they are also attacking Pakatan in particular DAP on social media as well:-

PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang today accused DAP of exploiting divisions in the Malay polity to further its agenda, adding to his anti-Islam claim against the Pakatan Harapan component for which he is under police investigation.

In a post on his Facebook page, Hadi appeared to have referenced Malay political leaders that are now working with the DAP, in a litany of allegations that included them having insatiable thirst for power and wealth.

(Source: Malay Mail)

One has to seriously question the wisdom of voters who keep voting for politicians who embark on this low level of cheap politics, hinging on racism and religious extremism. Why these politicians are not questioned on their plans to improve their constituent’s economy, high cost of living, and development plans?

Hadi Awang PAS Taliban PN Islamic

PAS under Hadi Awang who openly supported the Taliban who drove out a democratically elected government had won the most number of seats in the last general elections and most of this was attributed to the aggressive campaign in social media. Image source: Malaysiakini FB

Final Say

It is well established that Pakatan Harapan had lost the social media war in the last general election and yet it was not a big surprise why this happened. The failure in using social media effectively was evident even before the year 2022 as much of the work at ground level especially during the great flood was not captured and promoted in social media.

To make things worse, many of the Pakatan Harapan politicians either don’t have any social page or any social media page that they have is not active.

Another social media failure that Pakatan Harapan failed to address is to counter effectively the various misinformation, lies, and slanders with hard facts or even police reports. The job to counter the misinformation and promote Pakatan Harapan is left to the ordinary netizens who find these attacks on Pakatan Harapan in social media unbearable, sickening, and obviously fake.

Obvious slanders attract criticisms and threats of legal action by Pakatan Harapan leaders but it is only limited to social media. No real legal actions are taken leaving these slanders to cumulate, shared, and cause a deal of damage to Pakatan Harapan’s reputation.

Certainly, things must change otherwise Pakatan Harapan will lose more seats in the next general election if their performance in the unity government and several drastic actions must be taken right now to avoid Pakatan Harapan’s handicap in handling social media.

One – have one consolidated social media page for Pakatan Harapan instead one at each political party or politician’s level as it is easier to keep track of all updates & promotions in one place. This way, one doesn’t need to follow too many social media pages and accounts and yet still get all the updates in one place.

Two – ensure Pakatan Harapan’s social media team covers all social media platforms namely TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter, and not selective based on the politicians’ preference. The social media team should also repost all positive posting by netizens and actively engage any criticisms and suggestions.

Three – have a dedicated, full-time admin to handle all social media updates to ensure that all pages are freshly updated, misinformation countered with hard facts, and any misuse of the social media platforms is swiftly reported to the relevant platform admins to be removed or accounts to be banned.

Four – any posting on social media that borders extreme racism, a threat to national security and criminal defamation must be met with actual legal action instead of empty threats in social media which does nothing to curtail these wrongful postings.

Pakatan Harapan cannot assume that the voters will be able to identify which is correct and which is incorrect in social media unless they have all the facts at hand. Pakatan Harapan already lost the war in social media for GE15 but must take steps to avoid the same for GE16.

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