After working in the news media for some time, one of my discoveries was Chinese and Malay netizens in their own language websites were more active than netizens on the English website in postings, sharing posts, giving views or displaying emoticons to express themselves on the social media.
However when dealing with political issues, it was rare to see specific phenomena within the Malay netizens; until the recent Johor Crown prince posted his “Old ship remark”, in the twinkling of an eye, we saw active participation from the Malay netizens with lots of comments and opinions. This incident triggered the “Malays’ opinion” column to be flooded and fully utilized.
Nazri one of the UMNO supreme council members opined that the Malays’ opinion was simple. It was still remain at the scenario of power struggling between UMNO and PAS.
Veteran UMNO member cum Johor Baru lawmaker Shahrir Samad was humble. He had never made any comment pertaining to the inclination of the Malays’ opinion. He opined that in the coming general election, Johor Baru parliamentary constituency would be the best testing ground. This was because the voters’ racial composition there was almost similar to the racial composition in the country. It could reflect the choice of all Malaysians. Therefore he welcomed DAP parliament leader Lim Kit Siang to challenge him in his Johor Baru constituency.
Barisan Nasional’s strategy is very straightforward by using realistic gains to calm the erratic Malay opinions. For example before the dissolution of the Parliament, the Barisan Nasional government granted an additional annual salary increment for civil servants. In their election manifesto, they promised an increase in the BR1M allowance for the lower income group. Whereas what Pakatan Harapan can give to their voters is only Mahathir’s personal attraction and an abstract future projection for the country.
The posting made by the Johor Crown prince on his facebook attracted an influx of Malay opinions; it seemed that the wind of change which we saw in the last 13th general election is brewing in the Malay circle.
One of the popular postings by the netizens was “to urge the public to support the zero corruption political party PAS”. This posting received the 3rd highest number of “likes”. Of course this is not a solid conclusion but it reflects that the Malay voters today who do not support UMNO may not support Pakatan Harapan which is led by Mahathir too.
Malay voters are different from most Chinese voters who only choose between candidate 1 or 2. The Malay voters have another alternative force to turn to, which is UMNO’s long-time traditional enemy.