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Jakarta Post

Mahathir turns to social media in campaign to oust Najib

  • Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani

    The Jakarta Post

Kuala Lumpur   /   Tue, April 14, 2015   /  09:46 am

Dr Mahathir Mohamad has resorted to using non-establishment media to continue his campaign to oust Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Mahathir, who had used his personal blog to attack his successor Abdullah Badawi and succeeded in forcing him to resign, gave an exclusive interview to a group of pro-Mahathir bloggers on Saturday. The video of the interview was uploaded on dinturtle. blogspot.com at the weekend.

Din Turtle is part of a wider network of over 60 conservative nationalist blogs. The blog called Blog Parti Melayu (Malay party blog) has been consistent in its attacks on Datuk Seri Najib and his leadership. Prominent bloggers in this network include Life of Annie, Karim Omar, Pisau.net, Kluang Diamond and Bigdogdotcom.

The bloggers are usually ordinary Umno members or Mahathir supporters. They often advocate the importance of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in safeguarding national harmony.

The NEP was a socio-economic restructuring affirmative action programme launched by then Prime Minister Abdul Razak in 1971 to close the economic gap between the Malays and the Chinese. In 2010, Mr Najib launched the New Economic Model to replace the NEP and liberalise the economy.

Right-wing alternative bloggers have also been highly critical of Najib, who they feel has been very lenient towards the "ungrateful" Chinese community. The social media commentators often state the need for a strong conservative leader like Mahathir to stand up for Malays, Islam and the royal families.

Mainstream media such as the New Straits Times and its sister publication Berita Harian, The Star and Sin Chew Daily gave extensive coverage to Najib's televised interview on Thursday, during which he responded to the charges made by Mahathir.

Most of the major newspapers are owned or linked to a component party in the Umno-led ruling Barisan Nasional. Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia yesterday also urged Mahathir to stop his attacks.

As expected, Mahathir's comments were downplayed by mainstream media. That he has turned to social media as a platform to launch his attacks is deeply ironic.

The irony was noted by Najib during his televised interview.

"I have to face it. It is an era of perception, not reality, with the influence of the vast social media nowadays. There was no social media during Tun Dr Mahathir's era. The social media has a big influence now," said Najib.

"The perception can turn into reality if it is not addressed. This might be the biggest challenge that my colleagues and I have to face in combating perception." (***)

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