KUCHING: Managing public perception will be key for Barisan Nasional to win the general election, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He said the Barisan election machinery must change its approach and be efficient in managing the people’s perception on politics, especially on social media, so that it can win the trust of voters, in particular the Chinese community.
He said Barisan’s failure to manage public perception on social media and other online platforms in the previous two general elections had enabled the Opposition to create a negative impression of ruling coalition.
“One of the most complex issues to be dealt within politics is perception. We admit that Barisan had failed to manage public perception in the 12th and 13th general elections.
“Our communications medium today does not depend solely on conventional methodology. We must change our approach in managing public perception to ensure a strong victory for Barisan,” he told a press conference after attending a briefing at the state police headquarters here yesterday.
While public perception, especially among the Chinese community, has significantly improved in favour of Barisan, Dr Ahmad Zahid reminded the coalition’s component party members to work hard to gain public trust and confidence.
“Despite Barisan gaining improved public perception since the last general election, we must be wary of our opponents who might use last-minute tactics to manipulate and disrupt all the positive perception on the ruling Government,” he said.
To help improve the perception of the Chinese community towards Barisan, Dr Ahmad Zahid called on Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) and offshoot United Peoples Party (UPP) to reach an understanding to work together in the general election.
“Both parties should support each other’s candidates, regardless who is picked to contest in the elections. This is for the sake of uniting the Chinese community as well as wooing voters back to Barisan,” he added.
UPP is a Barisan-friendly party that is yet to be accepted into the state Barisan.
On a related note, Dr Ahmad Zahid said the Malaysian Agreement 1963 will be part of the coalition’s manifesto for Sabah and Sarawak leading to the general election.