Umno Youth blogs for political survival Beh Lih Yi Jun 10, 08 6:27pm
Umno Youth officially entered blogosphere today as part of its survival strategy, following the mauling that Barisan Nasional (BN) sustained in the March 8 general election.
The blog, called the Saka Bangsa (or heritage), was launched by the wing’s media liaison secretariat chief Sazmi Miah at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur today.
Sazmi said this is a bid to rejuvenate and revamp Umno Youth “to ensure the relevance of the wing’s struggle”.
“We’re willing to change because it seems the younger generation today can’t relate to Umno Youth,” he told some 50 journalists and bloggers at the launch.
“We try to do what is right at the moment. We had the highest popularity votes (in the 2004 general election) but the people who supported us (BN) previously - civil servants, youths - have all gone against us within four years. There must be something wrong... so for us this is the right thing to do.”
Sazmi, who is also the Umno Youth exco member, was formerly parliamentary secretary of the natural resources and environment ministry. He was among casualties in the general election.
He urged the public to give their views on Umno Youth through the blog, saying he would collect and present the feedback for further action.
Umno Youth will post articles from the traditional or new media, react to current issues or rebut any allegation through the blog.
“We want friendly engagement, but please do not touch on religious and racial issues. (If it is) anything about Umno Youth, you are welcome (to write),” he said.
He said the last general election results prompted the wing to acknowledge the importance of the new media and blogs, as these are widely accessed by the younger generation.
Need to be media-savvy
Sazmi then held at a two-hour dialogue with journalists and bloggers present, inviting them to air their views on Umno Youth.
He asked about the Chinese Malaysian perception of the wing, especially the infamous keris-wielding controversy.
A few media representatives pointed out that Umno Youth leaders need to be more approachable and adopt a friendlier attitude to the media.
They were also urged to respond to issues highlighted in the new media and blogs and change the public perception of Umno Youth as a body that ‘rubber-stamps’ the stand of the parent body.
Citing an example, a journalist said Umno Youth leaders have not been seen as vocal on the recent hefty increase in fuel prices, apart from an immediate reaction by exco member Mukhriz Mahathir.
An editor noted that the public still feel that the apology by Umno Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein over the keris incident as lacking in sincerity.
He also singled out the wing’s deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin for criticism, saying the latter is widely seen as “arrogant” in the public eye because of his statements.
Sazmi said he would channel these views to the top leadership of the wing.
Since the general election, a number of leading BN politicians have turned bloggers, including Malacca Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam, Umno information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib and former Selangor Menteri Besar Mohd Khir Toyo.
* Laporan Malaysiakini, 10 June 2008 1930hrs