Short of taking you on a diabetic, eight-hour-long, teh-tarik session of what happened in the political scene over the past few weeks (this blow-by-blow account was already covered by my colleague PJ), I thought it would be fun to look at Malaysian politicians—outgoing, incoming or never leaving the limelight—to see what they get up to on social media to, you know, look presentable and touch the minds and hearts of the rakyat.
Politicians have to look good on social media right? If our very own MParader can post snapshots of his East Coast Park and Botanic Gardens walks, celebrating his septuagenarian privileges while enjoying the shade of our tall fruit trees (and the occasional spider), why not Malaysian politicians? So, in no particular order of importance, here are the top ten Malaysian politicians we feel are so outgoing, we wonder if they’re ever home at all.
*All social media channel follower figures are accurate at the time of writing. They may change.
#1 Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia (94 Years Old)
The man with the Berocca pick-me-up has seen more than his fair share of excitement and still looks game for another go at the bungee-jump. He’s always been active on all three social media platforms. Beyond photos and videos of himself looking lovey-dovey with his wife and at his desk looking lonely Keanu-style, sometimes his followers will get tongue-in-cheek posts like the ones below:
Twitter: 1.2M followers
Facebook: 3,903,586 followers
Instagram: 1.6M followers
#2 Muhyiddin Yassin, current Prime Minister of Malaysia (72 Years Old)
Twitter: 572.4K followers
Facebook: 1,001,532 followers
Instagram: 1,365 followers
The new Prime Minister of Malaysia (at the time of writing), is most active on Facebook, rather than Instagram or Twitter (for now). He’s had his fair share of photos showing hand-shakes, podium poses, and about-to-enter-his-limousine shots. Nothing stand-out-ish from the usual, but since he’s the PM now, let’s see if he’ll be amping up his Insta-worthiness to the next level with some fruit-touching shots.
#3 Anwar Ibrahim, President of the People’s Justice Party (72 Years Old)
Twitter: 1.3M followers
Facebook: 1,845,330 followers
Instagram: 361K followers
Beyond the usual diplomatic hand-shaking and speech-giving photos, the long-suffering PM-in-waiting occasionally posts glimpses of his family life on social media. His photos always depict him on a sleepy-eyed smile-a-thon, and usually wearing a black suit or batik shirt. Meme-worthy? Definitely. Insta-worthy? Only if he swaps his batiks for funky T-shirts printed with anecdotal one-liners.
#4 Azmin Ali, former Minister of Economic Affairs and former Chief Minister of Selangor (55 Years Old)
Twitter: 593.4K followers
Facebook: 464,818 followers
Instagram: 340K followers
Portrayed by the media as the one who instigated Pakatan Harapaners moving away from Mahathir’s and Anwar’s coalition, Azmin Ali has hit back at his critics, citing changing prime minister mid-term (Mahathir to Anwar before the next election) is a conspiracy in itself. Whatever it is, having bounced back from a recent sex scandal, Azmin’s now as experienced as Anwar in feeling what it’s like to be mud-slung from behind. Let’s hope he remains continuously active on social media and tells his side of the story.
#5 Dr. Wan Azizah Ismail, former female Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia (67 Years Old)
Twitter: 594.1K followers
Facebook: 1,223,560 followers
Instagram: 559K followers
The former Deputy PM of Mahathir’s government and president of the Pakatan Harapan coalition has had quite a roller coaster month. I would think that with all of her portfolios and being Anwar’s wife, she would one day screw up and clash-post the same photos as her husband on his channels. But no, they seem to coordinate like pros—hers are usually more insightful, sprinkled with visuals of her vibrant tudung and baju kurung colours.
#6 Lim Guan Eng, former Minister of Finance and former Chief Minister of Penang (59 Years Old)
Twitter: 557.3K followers
Facebook: 747,759 followers
Instagram: 137K followers
The three-term Member of Parliament and Secretary-General of the Democratic Action Party seems to be very active when it comes to his social media presence. He also appears adept at Photoshop (or someone in his team is), what with precision cropping, shadow blends and sun-flares on several festive greeting posters, which usually feature him and his wife.
#7 Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, current UMNO President and former Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Defence (67 Years Old)
Twitter: 522.1K followers
Facebook: 1,711,452 followers
Instagram: 145K followers
Not only must it be tough warming up the hot seat once moulded by former Prime Minister and UMNO President Najib Razak, but the current UMNO President Zahid Hamidi manages to keep a tight clench on his position. Most of his social posts focus on office meetings, and the occasional events and poster announcements, but once in a blue moon, I get surprise easter eggs like these:
#8 Najib Tun Razak, former Prime Minister of Malaysia & former UMNO President (66 Years Old)
Twitter: 4.1M followers
Facebook: 4,088,559 followers
Instagram: 797K followers
Love him or loathe him, you can never completely lose sight of him. Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, wife-listener, and 1MDB-scandal-denier is very much a lively commentator on his social media channels. His Twitter account includes subtle jibes at the opposition, free-but-at-your-own-risk financial market analysis, and the 1MDB case. He’s even got time to make memes like these (if admittedly, he’s the original poster):
#9 Syed Saddiq, former Minister of Youth and Sports (27 Years Old)
Twitter: 911.3K followers
Facebook: 474,035 followers
Instagram: 1.8M followers
Being the youngest former cabinet minister in Malaysia, the millennial stroked controversy when he posted a social media post of himself half-lying in a bath-tub of ice-cold water. The post has since been removed. Despite bathtub-gate, he’s been active on social media with youth-related activities, and is himself an active sportsman. Once in awhile, you’ll get an emotional appeal for calm or video explainer from him, which probably works for his digitally connected followers.
#10 Khairy Jamaluddin, former Minister of Youth and Sports (44 Years Old)
Twitter: 2.4MK followers
Facebook: 1,280,435 followers
Instagram: 1M followers
An UMNO stalwart since 2008, Khairy is also the son-in-law of Malaysia’s fifth Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. As a current Member of Parliament, his posts on Facebook and Twitter are usually political and business-related in nature, but his Instagram feed is chock full of insights into his personal life, including that of his family, hobbies, and friends.
So there you have it. The top ten Instagram-worthy politicians in Malaysia to watch and track. With the current political situation in Malaysia as fluid as it is, this top ten list is prone to change anytime. Admittedly, we also tried scouring the Web for the official channels of Rosmah Mansor (Najib’s wife), but alas, we found only spoof accounts of her persona, her designer handbags, sunglasses, rings, necklaces, tiaras, watches, and Halloween costumes, so we gave up.
In Singapore’s context, most Members of Parliament have Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Many use these platforms to deliver one or two key policy messages, usually intertwined with some pretty visuals featuring them in action. Several do offer glimpses into their personal lives without a political message, sometimes with touches of humour and personality.
These days, it’s easy to sway public opinion with just a tweet, photo, or Insta-story, but it’s always more effective when a politician dresses down, puts on loafers and mingles with the rakyat. Maybe a snapshot of drinking teh tarik at the stall ain’t so bad after all. Sometimes, that’s all you need to boost your social media standing. Who knows? Might win the hearts and minds of the people and get away with some much-needed love, scot-free.