PETALING JAYA: A new army of cybertroopers are being raised by former Umno Information Chief Ahmad Maslan, newly-appointed to head the Information Technology bureau.
His first move was to announce the new “cyber army” to work on rectifying the negative image suffered by the party, the Barisan Nasional and the BN-led Federal Government.
His men are now in talks with several parties to discuss the details of this “army”, including its name, according to a report in Umno-owned Mingguan Malaysia today.
Ahmad’s new “army” would be the latest of a series of similar moves that Umno has taken in the past decade to combat the widespread influence of opposition supporters on the Internet.
The 2008 general election saw a change in electoral campaigns with the opposition coalition, then Pakatan Rakyat, using social media tools to reach out to a huge switch of support.
Barisan chairman and Prime Minister, Najib Razak conceded that the Internet was among the main reasons for BN’s substantial losses, including the loss of its two-thirds parliamentary majority and control of the state governments of Selangor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perak and Penang.
Since then, Umno and BN have made several attempts at raising cybertroopers to conduct its online war on perception.
In 2012, he hosted 10 conventions in several states for users of new media, hoping to raise 10,000 cybertroopers in preparation for the general election of 2013.
Umno maverick Saifuddin Abdullah, then with the Umno supreme council, said at the time: “But now BN is prepared, we have a team of bloggers and new media known as BN cybertroopers” which he said was equally matched in strength with opposition supporters.
As late as August last year, Najib had called for a new group of soldiers, the keyboard warriors, to take up the issue of perception versus reality.
In the latest attempt by Ahmad, he said “the IT bureau will forge a friendship with our social media friends to obtain input, especially on matters that perhaps Umno and BN don’t know yet”.
He said social media played an important role in determining their success or failure and urged all Umno members to work together in this battle.
Besides being appointed IT chief, Ahmad Maslan was also appointed to the Supreme Council member to fill a vacancy created by the death of the late Rompin MP, Jamaluddin Jarjis.
Replacing Ahmad as Umno Information Chief is Annuar Musa, MP for Ketereh.