PH needs to relearn art of communication

Pakatan Harapan leaders

Recently at an event that he was officiating, Lim Guan Eng was commenting that back in the day, if you wanted to read bad stuff about Malaysia, you read the Singapore newspapers and vice-versa.

That is not the case anymore as every day you can see the government is getting its fair share of bad press.

After winning the May 9 general election, the Pakatan Harapan government seems to have lost or forgotten the art of communication.

Those within the coalition have also learned that social media is a double-edged sword. The complete dominance of the digital realm pre-elections has now given way to total loss of voice on social media. Of course it doesn’t help that there are daily missteps and confusing statements by the new ministers to add to the confusion.

This brings me to the question of what has gone wrong and why is the new government failing miserably in the art of communicating with the rakyat?

The bar has been set so low by the previous government that you would think it doesn’t actually take that much to have a clear communication guideline and to get your ministers and spokespersons to adhere to it. Yet, we see ministers and their aides shooting from the hip and then backtracking profusely when it blows up on social media on an almost daily basis.

With the abundance of seasoned media personnel currently out there by virtue of retiring or taking VSS packages, it’s baffling that certain ministers have decided to hire from within the party for media roles for said ministries. This invariably leads to media gaffes that eventually will lead to the erosion of support from the base.

Pakatan Harapan official Twitter
Pakatan Harapan relied on social media to win the May 9 general elections but has surprisingly not updated its official Twitter account since 2017. Special media and communications adviser to the prime minister, Datuk A. Kadir Jasin had in February said people should be mindful that the social media that helped Pakatan win will also be the reason for its downfall if the administration does not buck up.

What is the point of doing all the good work if it’s not communicated properly and instead allowing your political opponents to shape the narrative and by default take the lead in communication to the rakyat?

Many issues have not been handled or communicated properly – from the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), toll charges, the congestion charge, and now a flying car!

And we also have an inexperienced media officer accusing RTM of “sabotage”, while the people sit and wonder what is going on.

Ministers must first be on the same page. Next, please hire experienced media people to run your ministry’s’ media platform and not someone within the party who has no media credentials, as this will only further embarrass the minister and the ministry.

The majority of the rakyat do want to see the new government work and do well, so please tap in to the myriad of talent out there who are willing to help.

Otherwise, there will be no difference between the “Old” and “New” Malaysia.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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