What is the use of setting up the Azalina Fake Committee on Fake News when for over five years, the AG’s Chambers, the Police and Ministry of Communication and Multimedia had been collectively negligent and impotent to tackle the mountain of lies, fake news and false information churned out by UMNO/BN-funded cybertroopers?
A fortnight ago, the Director of Australian National University (ANU) Malaysia Institute, Ross Tapsell, said that Barisan Nasional is now winning the social media war, as it has improved its social media presence since Election 2013 and now has a stronger presence online compared to the opposition.
Tapsell said that BN had recognised its shortcomings in previous elections and has since effectively mobilised its resources to take on the opposition in cyberspace.
He said: “They have a far stronger presence on social media and on digital media in general in a variety of ways. There are far more pro-government blogs, websites, social media messaging in short there is a clear increase of volume compared to the 2013 elections.
“They know what they are doing this time around, they recognise the importance of new media and are engaged in a big way. Even the Prime Minister Najib has public said they had ‘lost’ the social media front in 2008 and 2013.”
Tapsell said: “The social media content coming out of the opposition camp is not as fiery as it used to be and is not gaining traction as compared to what is being put out by the government,” he said.
The new UMNO czar of cybertroopers, Datuk Ahmad Mazlan, the head of UMNO Information Technology Bureau for the past two years, should be very pleased with Tapsell’s analysis, as it meant that his mandate to assemble and lead a new army of UMNO/BN cybertroopers to counter the influence of opposition supporters on the Internet and eradicate the negative image of UMNO/Barisan Nasional Government is making headway.
The 2008 general election saw a change in electoral campaigns with the opposition coalition, then Pakatan Rakyat, using social media tools to reach out for support.
Prime Minister, Najib Razak had conceded that the Internet was among the main reasons for BN’s substantial losses, including the loss of its two-thirds parliamentary majority and control of the state governments of Selangor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perak and Penang.
Since then, Umno and BN have made several attempts at raising cybertroopers to conduct its online war on perception.
In 2012, he hosted 10 conventions in several states for users of new media, hoping to raise 10,000 cybertroopers in preparation for the general election of 2013.
For the 14th General Election, Najib had called for a new group of soldiers, the keyboard warriors, to wage the UMNO/BN’s war on the Internet.
But I don’t think Ahmad Mazlan could be very happy, as Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi had almost at the same time revealed that a recent study revealed that only 6.6 per cent of the country's cybertroopers are supportive of BN, while the rest are anti-establishment.
Speaking at the end of last month when launching Wanita UMNO’s Skuad Komunikasi dan Media, Zahid estimated that ”for every pro-BN cybertrooper, there are 15 others who are working against the government".
Zahid added that according to another study conducted by a group of academicians, 87 per cent of Malaysians hold negative perceptions of BN.
He said: "We almost lost the 12th and 13th general elections because we failed to create a presence on social media" and urged Umno to work harder to win the war of perception against the opposition.
Is the proposal to set up a Fake Committee on Fake News under the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, and comprising representatives from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Police and the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia the latest UMNO/BN gambit to weaponise UMNO/BN cybertroopers to combat Pakatan Harapan and opposition presence and influence on the Internet?
What is the use of setting up the Azalina Fake Committee on Fake News when for over five years, the AG’s Chambers, the Police and Ministry of Communications and Multimedia had been collectively negligent and impotent to tackle the mountain of lies, fake news and false information churned out by UMNO/BN-funded cybertroopers?