Hornbill Unleashed

January 27, 2013

Social media a double-edged sword for Umno

Boo Su-Lyn

Najib stressed that voters at the coming 13th general election were more concerned with what the government could do for them in future. – File pic

Social media is both a boon and a bane for Umno as it caused Barisan Nasional (BN) to lose its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority in Election 2008, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday.

The prime minister told CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland yesterday that voters were getting more educated and critical.

“I see the advent of ICT, social media as both something good, but also our bane. Could be our Achilles heel as well,” said Najib in the interview with Fareed.

“We need to realise that people are not going to give their vote to you based on how much you’ve done in the past,” he added.

Najib and his delegation are at the annual international forum that saw the participation of some 3,000 leaders from all around the world, including heads of state, as well as business, civil society, spiritual and media leaders.

“Nobody can deny the fact that Umno and Barisan Nasional, we’re the people who fought for independence. We’re the people who developed the country.

“But people today are saying that’s in the past,” the prime minister said.

BN lost two-thirds parliamentary majority in the historic 2008 general elections that saw four states – Perak, Penang, Kedah and Selangor – falling to the loose coalition of PAS, PKR and DAP, that later formed Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

Najib stressed that voters at the coming 13th general election were more concerned with what the government could do for them in future.

“That’s important for us to realise, that the level of expectation has increased by leaps and bounds,” said Najib, who is also the BN chairman.

There are currently about 13.6 million Facebook users in Malaysia out of a 28.3 million-strong population, which is a 48 per cent penetration of the population, according to monitoring website socialbakers.com.

A total of 29 per cent of Facebook users in Malaysia are aged between 25 and 34 years.

Najib has about 1.3 million fans on his Facebook page, compared to Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s 428,371 Facebook fans.

At press time, Najib has about 1.2 million Twitter followers, compared to Anwar’s 234,607 Twitter followers.

Political analysts have said that Malaysians are turning more to the Internet to get information, which has led to politicians setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts to reach out to voters, bypassing mainstream media that has seen lower newspaper circulation and smaller broadcasting audiences.

Asked what Najib’s focus would be should he get re-elected as prime minister, Najib said: “We’ve said it publicly, unashamedly; we want to be a fully developed nation by the year 2020. And I’m committed to do everything and anything possible to make it happen.”

Asked if Anwar was Najib’s most formidable foe, the prime minister replied: “I believe that people will see that our agenda for the country is more credible.”

The 13th general election, which must be called by April, will likely be a closely fought battle as a recent University Malaya survey has showed that young voters comprised the majority of fence sitters.


  1. Look back I have wasted 30 years of my future by voting for BN and leaving my destiny to a corrupted regime. I shall decide my own destiny by voting for change and looking forward with a new government.

    Comment by Ahmad Madon — January 27, 2013 @ 7:59 PM | Reply

    • May all the honest sensible and humble Malays act likewise!

      If you are uncertain just spoil your vote but certainly don’t vote for UMNO BN.

      Comment by Anon — January 27, 2013 @ 8:06 PM | Reply

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