The outcome of the recent six state polls on August 12 has been influenced by the strategic exploitation of race, religion, and royalty (3R) issues by the political parties PN and PAS. These parties managed to make significant progress by tapping into these sensitive topics, capitalizing on the prevailing environment of misinformation and divisive content prevalent on social media platforms.
States like Penang, Selangor, and Negri Sembilan, with GDP per capita above the national average, serve as aspirational benchmarks for citizens who desire economic growth. However, the current reality paints a different picture, with only a quarter of the national GDP per capita being attained. This economic gap can be seen as a factor driving people’s aspirations and influencing their voting decisions.
The success of PN and PAS in this election cycle can also be attributed to the proliferation of false narratives, fake news, and hate speech on social media platforms. The digital age has provided a fertile ground for the dissemination of unverified information, which has in turn influenced public perceptions and opinions.
An illustrative case is PAS President Tan Sri Hadi Awang’s unsubstantiated claims against the DAP. Despite making serious allegations such as being anti-Malay, anti-Islam, anti-royalty, communist, and fostering Islamophobia, Hadi Awang has failed to provide any credible evidence to support these accusations. This underscores concerns about the integrity and credibility of political leadership, as such baseless claims contribute to an atmosphere of mistrust and disinformation.
It is important to note that Islam, along with other major world religions, promotes values of honesty, truthfulness, and respect. The exploitation of lies, fake news, and hate speech for political gain contradicts these principles. As citizens engage with the democratic process, discernment and critical evaluation of information become paramount in ensuring an informed and responsible electorate.