MALAYSIA - As thousands of Umno delegates converged for their annual assembly this week, many are whipping out their smartphones to snap pictures of friends and favourite leaders.
Party president Najib Razak wants them to put their phones to further use: Win support of young people using social media in the next general election.
With the number of first-time voters expected to double to six million by the 14th general election in four years' time, Umno leaders are keenly aware they need to play catch-up with the opposition, which has effectively deployed social media to accuse Umno of corruption and other misdeeds.
Responding to the call, Umno's young women's wing recently set up a social media unit with representatives in all of the party's 191 divisions.
The Puteri wing's information chief, Ms Haryaty Hamdzah, said members will not only promote the party's activities and discuss women's issues on Facebook and other social media, but also respond to attacks on the party.
She blamed the allegations in cyberspace for the slip in Barisan Nasional's performance in last May's elections.
While the coalition, led by Umno, won 133 parliamentary seats against the opposition's 89 seats to form the federal government, it was by far BN's poorest showing.
"In the past, Umno Youth would handle the allegations on our behalf, but we have to be more proactive in responding now," Ms Haryaty told The Straits Times yesterday. "If not, the young voters will believe these allegations to be true."