After Chini by-election success, Najib says new battlefield for BN is social media to reach broader voter base

Datuk Seri Najib Razak (left) and Barisan Nasional’s candidate for the Chini by-election Mohd Sharim Md Zain are seen chatting during a visit the the Jakun Orang Asli settlement near Pekan June 25, 2020. — Bernama pic
Datuk Seri Najib Razak (left) and Barisan Nasional’s candidate for the Chini by-election Mohd Sharim Md Zain are seen chatting during a visit the the Jakun Orang Asli settlement near Pekan June 25, 2020. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has credited Barisan Nasional’s (BN) victory at the Chini by-election earlier this month to two groups: young voters and outside voters.

He said this was one of the aspects he kept in mind while acting as BN operations director leading up to and during the by-election’s campaigning period.

“Although Chini is a strong Umno base, we wanted to prove it is stronger. So from the start of the campaign, myself and the Pahang mentri besar targeted around 10,000 votes, and if possible, hoped to push for 12,000 votes even,” Najib said during an online talk show with Sinar Harian today.

Speaking to moderator Haslina AR Kamaludin, the Pekan MP said this formula was proven successful when BN candidate Mohd Sharim Md Zain managed to obtain 12,650 votes.

“Several strategies were used, and these focused on young voters, whose wide influence cannot be discounted. The second is outside voters (pengundi luar), another important factor.

“We estimated that approximately 42 per cent of all voters during the Chini by-election came from outside. So we had to figure out how to establish a relationship with them, since the usual methods of ceramah wouldn’t apply, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

To this, Najib stressed the importance of social media, adding that BN’s constant engagement with outside voters resulted in many of them coming out in support of the coalition on polling day.

“The new battlefield now for us is social media, followed by securing the support of young and/or outside voters. In my view, BN lost the 14th general election (in 2018) due to a lack of social media strength at the time.

“But nowadays, we can see BN and Muafakat Nasional dominating social media. We see our role is recognised, not merely in terms of likes and views, but from the comments as well.

“Netizens’ comments are a useful barometer of public opinion and a good indicator of rakyat’s support, though to be fair there is no 100 per cent correlation,” he said.

When asked what he felt BN’s chances would be like in the event of an anticipated by-election for Slim, Perak, Najib said he has not yet studied what things are like on the ground yet.

“Nonetheless, I am confident the sentiment will support a BN/Umno candidate, in the event. This will add to the momentum of the six by-elections we have won so far,” he said.

Slim assemblyman Datuk Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib died last Wednesday (July 15) following complaints of breathing difficulties.

Subsequently, on Friday, Election Commission secretary Ikmalrudin Ishak said a special meeting will be held tomorrow (July 23) to discuss the date for the Slim by-election.

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