Malaysia votes 2018

Wider 4G coverage in Malaysia paves way for a 'WhatsApp election'

Malaysia topped 36 countries in the use of WhatsApp as a news channel, said the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017. The messaging app has drawn many users, including older Malaysians who have smartphones but do not consider themselves to be I
Malaysia topped 36 countries in the use of WhatsApp as a news channel, said the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017. The messaging app has drawn many users, including older Malaysians who have smartphones but do not consider themselves to be Internet-literate. Greater mobile broadband coverage has also opened up previously impenetrable areas, bringing them into play.PHOTO: REUTERS

Many Malaysians turning to messaging app as a source of news, due to the ease of sharing videos, articles and pictures

It's a four-hour drive and an eight-hour boat ride from the coastal town of Bintulu to Long Busang in Sarawak, one of the most remote villages in Malaysia.

There is electricity only after sunset, and no landline for phone calls. A satellite phone is available at a timber camp half an hour away.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2018, with the headline 'Wider 4G coverage paves way for a 'WhatsApp election''. Print Edition | Subscribe