PM Najib is one of M’sia’s most savvy social influencers, shows focus on online campaigning

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By Sulaiman Daud | January 12, 2018

If Prime Minister Najib Razak was rocked by the news that former PM Mahathir Mohamad will be his main challenger in the upcoming general election, you can’t tell from his social media presence.

In fact, he’s been sharing many different posts and pics of his working visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of King Salman.

Najib was there from Jan. 9 to Jan. 12 to continue the discussion on bilateral matters that were raised during the King’s maiden visit to Malaysia in 2017.

Not just work

But it’s not just about work. Najib also took the opportunity to perform the Umrah, which is the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that can be taken at any time of the year, unlike the Hajj which has to be performed at a specific time.

Najib attracted criticism from some quarters after a Whatsapp message went around that purported to show a list of names on the official delegation list, including those of Najib’s family.

However, the PMO’s statement also clarified that his family members had paid for the trip themselves and their names were merely submitted to the Saudi Arabian government to facilitate clearance for theĀ Umrah.

Social media maven

Najib’s increasing ease with the use of social media reflects a concerted effort by the Malaysian ruling party to use online platforms to communicate with their voters.

He is one of Malaysia’s most popular politicians with 3.3 million followers on Facebook and 4 million followers on Twitter.

He’s even mastered the art of the cute tweet that followers will be happy to retweet.

In 2014, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi blamed the rulingĀ Barisan NasionalĀ coalition’sĀ poor performances in the 2008 and 2013 general elections due to a lack of online campaigning.

They don’t intend to make the same mistake for the 2018 campaign. For a start, a new web portalĀ therakyat.com, has been set up to provide voters with policy information and news.

Najib’s own personal blog has also gotten a makeover and it looks quite modern and stylish.

Screen shot from Najib Razak’s blog.

Will it be enough to win over the voters? Coupled with Najib’s undoubted political skills, it just might.

For example, the pic of Najib on theĀ UmrahĀ will be popular with religious voters, even if he did not intend it as a political ploy.

His tweets on the Saudi trip have been getting thousands of likes and retweets, increasing the likelihood that more voters will have seen impressive images of Najib meeting with King Salman and performing theĀ Umrah.

A strong advantage to have, going into a general election.

Top image from Najib Razak’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

About Sulaiman Daud

Sulaiman believes that we can be heroes, if just for one day. His favourite Doctor is Peter Capaldi's Twelve. In his spare time he writes about film, pop-culture and international politics,Ā which you are very welcome to read here.

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