Opposition MPs like Yeo Bee Yin, Hannah Yeoh and Syed Saddiq are warming hearts all over social media with their simple, light-hearted TikTok videos. Turns out TikTok isn’t just about goofy dance trends and lip syncing, it can actually be an effective tool for politicians to connect with their supporters and share their message.
The TikTok series which are a joint collaboration of the three MPs are brilliant for several reasons. Firstly, this year has been a rollercoaster ride of intense emotions and frustrations for Malaysians. It’s a nice reminder that it’s okay to have fun and relax a little, even in dire times. After everything we’ve been through this year, we certainly deserve a bit of laughter.
The videos aren’t insubstantial either, netizens were pleased that the topic of domestic abuse and shared responsibility of housework were touched in their TikTok entitled “How to be a good husband”.
Secondly, it celebrates friendships and diversity, something quite unheard of in Malaysian politics. We’re all fed up of the hate based politics that we’ve experienced for decades, like the ugly incident when a member of Parliament told his peer to “balik Tongsan”.
Seeing politicians who hail from different parties, different races, and different genders coming together for the sake of the Malaysian people? It gives us hope that better things are possible.
The app can also be used for many different purposes. Take Kluang MP, Wong Shu Qi for example who used the platform to expose the underground network of fake news merchants working to distort and manipulate Pakatan Harapan’s core messaging.
There’s also something empowering about female and youth MPs who are severely underrepresented in Parliament putting themselves in the spotlight. To put things in perspective, out of 222 Members of Parliament, there are only two who are under 30 years of age. Malaysia also ranks 143 for female equality in the world of national Parliament, as we only have 33 women MPs. That’s a pretty underwhelming figure considering the male to female ratio in the country stands at 1.07 to 1.
Why is visibility important? Because we need to encourage more youth and female representatives in government. We want their voices to be loud and clear. Think about it, the people who will be most affected by the policies will be the youth, their lives are being decided by policy makers and they need to have a say in it. Since Pakatan Harapan’s initiative for a lower voting age is in effect, Tiktok is a great platform for reaching younger audiences. Keep in mind that 41% of TikTok’s user base is aged between 16-24.
So while Tiktok can be a phenomenal outreach tool for potential young voters, politicians still need to tread lightly. Don’t believe me? Just ask Noraini Ahmad, the Higher Education Minister who was slammed over her proposed TikTok competition during the lockdown. Amongst the criticisms thrown at her was how the minister was desperately trying to gain brownie points with younger voters instead of spending resources fixing the real issues students faced in education.
The lesson here? Don’t try too hard, TikTok is about letting your hair down and creating something new. People can smell insecurity from a mile away, and if you’re jumping on the bandwagon in a desperate attempt to relate to the youth, you will be called out. But if a politician is genuinely interested in talking about real issues and they’re looking for a new way to do so, why not use TikTok to maximize your outreach?
When done right, TikTok and politics can send powerful messages in very creative ways. Our verdict: Cute TikToks are here to stay!