social media in malaysia's political scene

You know when campaign season is upon us when the political mudslinging is out in full force. Attacking the ‘other side’ usually comprises of criticizing policies, character assassination, smear campaigns and many other (dirty) tactics. All is done in the hopes of discrediting one’s opponent and/or garnering votes in the race to the top post.

Unfortunately the endeavor is not confined to the politicians, who have developed a thick-skin against their detractors. Politicians’ family members are considered fair game as well. Compounding to this toxic environment is the advent of social media, which has of course brought about a whole different approach to politicking. Malaysia’s political arena has undoubtedly moved with the times.

The local population was quick to embrace Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and many others. People use the various medium either to reconnect with old friends, make new friends, sell stuff, make announcements, etc. Obviously issues of public interests are quickly highlighted and shared in such an inter-connected society. Politicians particularly their campaigning teams the world over including in Malaysia have learned to use these social media as a communication tool to propagate their message in a bid to bolster a politician’s position or denigrate their opponents.

In recent days pictures of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed’s grandchildren have surfaced in social media. One is of his granddaughter flaunting her lavish lifestyle and the other of his grandson sleeping with his pet dogs, a big no-no in conservative Malaysia. Markedly, the pictures have created a social media storm with netizens defending the former leader’s granddaughter while others took to condemning the grandson.

Did the pictures achieve its intended purpose? Perhaps. One thing is for certain though if one can dish out the negative attacks then one better be prepared to be on the receiving end as well. See political maneuvering is not without its consequences. As the saying goes ‘People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.’

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