Experts: Perikatan still dominates social media

PETALING JAYA: Perikatan Nasional has shown that it still has the upper hand in the war for hearts and minds on social media as shown by the recently concluded Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election, says an electoral watchdog and political analysts.

The Opposition coalition continues to displace ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan, which used to be the dominant player in crafting political narratives online among people aged between 18 and 40 in past elections, they said.

Bersih deputy chairman Wong Yan Ke said that Pakatan did not fully utilise social media platforms as much as they did in the 12th, 13th and 14th General Election, where the coalition managed to control online political narratives.

“After the emergence of new platforms such as TikTok, I don’t think Pakatan has adapted to this culture,” he said when contacted recently.

However, Wong pointed out that Pakatan still has strong support among voters aged 41 and above.

Analysis of the KKB by-election’s results found that a majority of voters aged 41 and above supported Pakatan.

The analysis, by Institut Darul Ehsan also found that Perikatan commanded the majority of votes from those under 40, especially among Malays.

On May 11, Pakatan’s Pang Sock Tao defeated Perikatan’s Khairul Azhari Saut and two other candidates to win the by-election by a majority of 3,869 votes.

Ilham Centre executive director Hisomuddin Bakar, said that support from Malay youth for Perikatan remains high because government initiatives have so far failed to win their hearts.

“In terms of policy, there is also nothing attractive being offered to the youth.

“In reality, Perikatan has not done much either; it is just that the sentiment from the by-election campaign is still effective.

“Perikatan is simply taking advantage of the remaining wave of support they have.

“There is no guarantee that this support will be sustained in the future. This is because the characteristics and patterns of youth support are very fragile.

“This group is also not actively involved in party politics.

“They do not actively participate in physical political campaigns.

“They are focused on social media,” he explained, adding that interacting with the youth remains challenging for political parties and that the situation might change in the upcoming general election.

In an immediate response, Bersatu youth chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal said that social media platforms remain a key tool to woo voters aged between 18 and 40, especially among the Malays, in the recent Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election

He said this is despite the hurdles faced on social media by the coalition, it still manage to maintain its youth base.

“We hope to have a greater opportunity to garner more votes once Perikatan recalibrates our posturing when it comes to multiculturalism and other pressing issues that are affecting everyone in the short term,” he said.

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