The new media’s profound influence in GE13

(Bernama) – Two of the main contenders in the 13th General Election (GE13) namely the Barisan Nasional (BN) and the pakatan pembangkang (PR) have been fully exploiting the new media’s potential in wooing the voters.

The new trend indicates that almost all parties and candidates have been building up their public persona through websites, blogs, and social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Even BN stalwarts like Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hishammudin Tun Hussein and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin have embraced the new media to reach out to the masses.

On the opposition side, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, PAS’s spiritual head Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and his deputy Datuk Dr Haron Din, and DAP’s Publicity Secretary Tony Pua have become the centerpiece.

Most of the parties and candidates also have accounts at various social sites to relay information more efficiently while encouraging two way communication with the community.


Internet usage monitoring website, Internet World Stats () recorded that, up to June 2012, the total  number of Internet users in Malaysia is estimated to be 17,723,000, representing  60.7 per cent of the country’s population.

Meanwhile, the Asian Correspondent website () said in an article the Internet Penetration rate in Malaysia has increased by 300 per cent since GE12 in 2008.

At the time of writing this article, the total number of active Facebook users in Malaysia accounted for 13,354,900, the 20th highest in the world while Twitter users numbered 1,128,000.

If these statistics are anything to go by, the Internet certainly provides the advantage for parties and the candidates to win over the voter.


A brief survey conducted by Bernama found that Najib who is also the BN’s chairman led the most liked profile at Facebook and Twitter.

Internet monitoring site Socialbakers ( ) recorded, Najib’s Twitter handle (@NajibRazak) having the most number of followers in Malaysia, 1,510,127 to be precise with Najib adding about 100,312 followers over the last one month.

Najib’s Twitter followers are the 11th highest in the world under the politicians category. Only two Southeast Asian politicians made it to the top 20 , Najib and Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who ranked 8th with 1,709,746 followers.

After Najib, in the same category, it is Hishammudin (@HishammuddinH2O, with 477,893 followers), Anwar(@anwaribrahim, 278,535 followers), Khairy (@Khairykj, 264,734 followers) and Tony Pua (@tonypua, 59,090 followers).

And speaking off Facebook’s Fan page, ‘Najib Razak’ is the second most liked one with 1,633,812 ‘Likes’, after Tun Dr Mahathir with 2,085,034 ‘Likes’.

Nik Abdul Aziz is in the third place with 917,785 ‘Likes’, while Dr Haron (4th) and Anwar (5th) with both recording 672,546 and 582,839 ‘Likes’ respectively.


Political analyst Associate Professor Datuk Zainal Abidin Borhan noted that Najib’s success at the social website is very much due to his personal touch in reaching out to the communities through the cyberspace.

“The personal touch is crucial in the world of communication. The campaign through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the new approaches that provide the personal touch when people communicate directly with the prime minister,” said Zainal.

“The Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for example, provide private space for any individual in communicating directly with their audience and therefore are highly effective compared with the conventional campaign approach,” explained Zainal.

He added, the use of social media provided a profound impact on young voters as they were the biggest users of the medium.

“It is highly effective and successful. Just imagine even a chance to shake hands, to photograph, to sit beside or have coffee with the PM is a big thing, and what more when the PM himself answers your questions at the social website.

“These are the factors that could attract youngsters to BN and subsequently win their votes,” explained Zainal.


Zainal noted that BN’s poor showing in 2008 is due to its failure to capitalise effectively on the alternative media.

Having learnt its lessons, this time around the BN machinery has embraced wholeheartedly the new media in its campaign.

Recently, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM), Deputy Dean of the Social Science and Humanities Faculty Associate Professor Dr Mohd Fuad Mat Jali said his studies from 2010 to last March indicated that there is a good chance for BN to regain its two thirds majority in

Dewan Rakyat as long as there is no sabotage.

He pointed out this time around there is the change of heart among the youngsters due to the government’s transformation programmes that vastly have benefited the youths and low income earners.