DAP’s Enemies Exploiting Social Media to Narrate PH Govt Dominated by Chinese

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DAP has become the favoured bogeyman.

DAP’s political enemies, notably Umno, have been exploiting social media to narrate that the Pakatan Harapan government is dominated by Chinese, says Syahredzan Johan, political secretary to DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang.

“When BN lost the federal government in 2018, they needed a narrative to attack the new government.

“With their leaders embroiled in numerous corruption cases, they needed a simple yet effective message to attack the Harapan government.

“So together with their new ally PAS, they rely on the message that this government is supposedly a ‘Chinese-dominated or -controlled government’.

Zuraneeza Zulkifli

“Of course, this is completely untrue,” he said as reported by Malay Mail Online.

Syahredzan said that the government has lost the social media advantage to the opposition.

“We have not been able to counter this because of the fact that it has been in-built for so long. We must also admit that as a coalition, we have lost the synergy and effectiveness in social media communications.

“The opposition has taken advantage of the freedom returned to the people to spread their propaganda. We simply have lost the social media advantage we once had,” he said.

Syahredzan stressed that Pakatan Harapan (PH) must work together as a coalition to counter the narrative when it comes to social media engagement.

He said over the years, the opposition has managed to create a perception in the Malay community that DAP is a Chinese chauvinist party.

At the other end of the spectrum are the Chinese conservatives who now brand the party as a traitor for failing to stop the introduction of khat writing into Chinese vernacular schools.

Syahredzan said the anti-Malay perception did not start post-GE14.

“It is a narrative that has been repeated for decades, so much so that it has become ingrained in the collective psyche of the Malay community.

“BN, especially Umno, needed a bogeyman to justify representing itself as the one and only ‘defender’ of the community.

“To be a ‘defender’, one needs to have an enemy to ‘defend’ against and because of the ethnic make-up of the DAP, the party became the easiest target for the attacks by Umno,” he explained.

Penang state executive councillor and DAP assemblyman Zairil Khir Johari too agrees that this strategy is not new, and admits it appears to be gaining traction despite DAP being part of the federal government now.

“Previously, DAP was an easy target as there used to be an information monopoly in the pre-social media age.

“This was because DAP did not have much recourse to respond as there was little space in the mainstream media for DAP.

Zairil said when such a narrative is repeated often enough, many allegations and accusations become easily believed.

However, Zairil said in DAP’s defence, the party managed to turn the tide after 2008 when the party became part of a coalition government in a few states, including Penang and Selangor.

Gradually, DAP was able to counter many of the lies by proving that a DAP-led government was not a racist one.

“But, of course, while perception did improve, progress was still slow because the propaganda continued.

Sayuti Zainudin

“Umno continued to make DAP the bogeyman at every one of its general assemblies and MCA continued to blame DAP and so on,” he said.

He added that these narratives seem to be continuing, likely due to several reasons.

Firstly, unlike BN, Zairil said the PH government has made a policy decision to provide freedom to the media.

“But in the Malaysian reality, most mainstream media outlets are still privately owned by groups who are directly and indirectly linked to BN.

“It is little wonder where their editorial stance lies,” he said.

Zairil said that, secondly, social media is now bombarded by fake news and cybertroopers trolling.

“BN had resorted to this even before GE14 but has now stepped their game up.

“The amount of fake news being made viral daily is quite exasperating. The truth is often inundated by the false,” he said.

Thirdly, DAP seems to have become an easier target now that it is in government, he said, due to the politics of coalition requiring compromise.

“There have been a number of issues where DAP is seen to have compromised too much, although the fact is that DAP leaders in government are committed to implementing the reforms promised.

“Unfortunately, the slower than expected rate of reform also gives ammunition for hardliners both within and outside the party to attack our leaders. This then contributes to even more negative perception among the public,” he said.

In a nutshell, Zairil said it is a war of communication and public perception.

“DAP has been a victim for five decades. However, being in government, there is an opportunity to use whatever resources we have to not only counter but also build the right narrative of DAP’s struggle as a party for all Malaysians.

“This cannot happen overnight, and an elaborate strategy has to be put in place. Our leaders realise this and are working on this,” he said.