BN’s Tengku Adnan admits Pakatan leading social media battle

Syed Jaymal Zahiid, FMT

Barisan Nasional (BN) admitted today that its rivals may be leading in the social media battle but described it as merely a superficial appeal that may not necessarily translate as votes.

“Voters may not follow us on social media because we are the government and maybe they think we have the mainstream media.

Tengku Adnan (second from left) launches the Skuad BN campaign in Kuala Lumpur on February 28, 2013.— Picture by Choo Choy May“The other side may have more hits but that doesn’t mean they (voters) would vote for them,” coalition secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor told reporters at the launch of its “Skuad BN” campaign.

Yesterday, BN chairman and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Election 2013 will be Malaysia’s first “social media election”, which echoed views that sites like Facebook and Twitter will be a key battlefront to BN’s defence of Putrajaya.

“The coming months will be a fascinating period for people in both politics and the Internet.

“I can confidently predict that this will be Malaysia’s first ‘social media elections’,” Najib, who himself has more than one million followers on Twitter and some 1.2 million “likes” on Facebook, told the Malaysian Social Media Week event.

The statement comes just after the country’s sixth prime minister admitted recently that social media could be a double-edged sword for his party Umno, conceding that the Net was among the chief causes of BN’s record loses in the last polls.

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

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 the mainstream media that has seen lower newspaper circulation and smaller broadcasting audiences.

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

According to the Oxford Internet Institute, Malaysia, along with Brazil, has the highest Twitter use in the world.

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

A recent survey released shows this demographic forms the largest pool of fence-sitters, with about five million of them now registered voters. This new tech-savvy group will be the new kingmakers at Election 2013.

Analysts said much of PR’s success came from its pivotal early recognition and exploitation of the Internet as an effective campaigning platform.

To this day, the Internet is still seen an opposition-dominated domain.

But Tengku Adnan argued that the scenario has changed since 2008 and the ruling coalition was fast catching up on the trends.

“We have our thing too but if you only focus on the opposition side of course you won’t see what we are doing,” he said.