In a bid to woo young voters, many election candidates have jumped on the TikTok bandwagon, with some having amassed thousands of followers and millions of views.
One of them is former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who gamely danced to Swipe, a hip hop track by Singaporean singer Alyph. In the short clip, whenever Alyph sings “swipe”, the 75-year-old leader of Perikatan Nasional would “swipe” away the logos of Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH).
The clip has clocked close to four million views in a day. Many netizens commended their cute “abah” for following the trend. Abah is a deferential term for father in Malay.
The other elder statesman that has an active presence on TikTok is Tun Mahathir Mohamad, who has drawn more than 400,000 followers since his first post in August 2020. His videos are more polished and his tone more serious. In one of his latest clips, he addressed why Tan Sri Muhyiddin is a “traitor” who is not sorry for taking part in the Sheraton Move, the coup that led to the collapse of the PH government in 2020.
Other high-profile candidates who have a sizeable following of more than 300,000 people are caretaker Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz and caretaker Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin. Both regularly speak about their policies in short soundbites, and share short clips of their interactions with residents.
Coincidentally, both ministers have also shared videos of their “collab” with their counterparts in Singapore. Datuk Seri Zafrul has posted a clip of him playing Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight with Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.
Mr Khairy has also shared videos of him dining and cycling through Singapore’s central business district with Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.
Younger candidates like incumbent Muar MP Syed Saddiq is no stranger to social media campaigning. With more than 800,000 followers, the 29-year-old actively uses his platform to spread awareness about the importance of voting and a wide range of issues from gender pay gap to mental health. A regular guest in his TikTok videos is incumbent Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh.
There is also social media influencer-turned-budding politician Nur Fathiah Syazwana Shaharuddin, better known as Cleopatra, who is going to contest for the Batu seat in a 10-cornered fight. While she’s more active on Instagram, she has also started campaigning on TikTok. In her latest clip, she gave a two-minute speech in stilted Mandarin, urging voters to give younger candidates a chance to lead the country.
As the electoral race heats up, TikTok has recently emphasised that any misleading information concerning the election will be banned on the platform. An election report button and fact-checking tools will be provided to combat false and harmful narratives.