Social Media and On-Line Political Campaigning in Malaysia


Since the controversies surrounding the 2008 and 2013 Malaysian general elections due to the rising Opposition, social media networks have played a vital role in conveying political messages and debates. In 2014 there were a few state by-elections and they were influenced by the Kuala Lumpur Court of Appeal that found Anwar Ibrahim guilty of sodomy and sentenced him to five years jail (Kajang) on 23 March. He was expected to win, opening the way for him to become the chief minister of Selangor state, the country’s main economic hub surrounding Kuala Lumpur. In another event, a well known Malaysian and opposition politician, Karpal Singh, "the Tiger of Jelutong" died tragically following a motor vehicle accident. This paper analyses the influence of Facebook in the Kajang by-election and to what extent the social media impacted on the victory by Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Using compliance gaining theory, this paper presents strategies used by the two major political parties, Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to achieve their electoral goals. Though online political campaigning is not new from a Western perspective it is for Malaysia. To understand how the compliance gaining approach works in practice, selected political parties’ Facebook advertisements were examined within two weeks after nomination day and election observers from diverse backgrounds were interviewed. It can be concluded that since 2008 political messages have been heavily debated through blogs. Independent Internet Media, Facebook and Twitter are very popular among Malaysian political candidates and voters.

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Chinnasamy, S., & Roslan, I. (2015) Social Media and On-Line Political Campaigning in Malaysia. Advances in Journalism and Communication, 3, 123-138. doi: 10.4236/ajc.2015.34014.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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