KUALA LUMPUR, May 12 — DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang today opined that the 15th general election (GE15) will be fought mainly on social media, citing a recent turn of events in the Philippines presidential election.

The Iskandar Puteri MP said that the son of former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos — Ferdinand Marcos Jr — winning the country’s presidential election was a “triumph of social media disinformation and internet lies”, and must serve as a lesson for Malaysia.

“Pakatan Harapan parties must be ready and prepared as GE15 will be a ‘social media war’.

“If social media disinformation and internet lies could whitewash the brutal Marcos Sr. dictatorship and kleptocracy of the eighties into a ‘Golden Era of Peace and Prosperity’ despite gruesome figures of 70,000 in prison, 34,000 tortured and 3,000 killed, and the plundering of US$10 billion of public funds…

“(Then) there will be those who see hope in a social media war in GE15 in Malaysia, where  disinformation, lies and fake news could whitewash the kleptocracy of Malaysia in the last decade into the country’s ‘Golden Era’,” he said.

He then said that the social media disinformation had already begun as he had seen a video on the TikTok social media platform, claiming that PH had suppressed 12 news items during its time in government, which he said was “pure disinformation” and stoked hate in the Chinese community.

“Those who do not want to see the 15GE turn into ‘social media war’ should strategise what could be done to prevent such misfortune happening to Malaysia,” he added.

Malaysia has seen an increase in political actors using social media influence to win votes, especially since the last general election.

In the aftermath of GE14, analysts such as those at the Centre of Applied Data Science (CADS) and Invoke Malaysia were reported observing that a strong social media presence helped PH win the election.

Similarly, analysts and researchers around the globe are highlighting an increased use of social media to advance political agenda, in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom and neighbouring Singapore — especially as the younger, tech-savvy generations come into voting age.

It is also to be noted that Malaysia reduced the minimum voting age to 18, in December 2021.