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POLITICIANS who do not use technology to engage with the young will soon become redundant, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday.
He said this was because youths nowadays relied on alternative media and social networks to get real-time information.
"It used to be we get information through the official media. Now, there are so many other alternatives. We do not have an option.
"If we don't engage with them on the same network and provide accurate and real-time news in seconds, they get it somewhere else, and it's not necessarily accurate."
He said the government had to act fast to channel information to the people, "if possible, in real time".
Najib acknowledged that there was an information "vacuum" which caused youths to turn to alternative online sites for news, which was sometimes fabricated or untrue.
Given the big demand for information in the country, he said politicians and government officers must keep abreast of technological developments and trends and use the available social media tools to engage with the people.
The prime minister was speaking at the launch of the first Internet protocol television -- 1Malaysia TV -- which provides information and allows people to watch movies and news, as well as listen to music for free. The programmes are available on iPad, iPhone, smartphones and laptops, as well as Android and BlackBerry devices.
He said technology had developed to a point where youths could not be separated from the Internet.
"Technology is the only language they understand."
Najib said the demand for information was so strong that sometimes, even before a closed-door meeting was over, the news would spread.
He said Malaysia recorded the highest number of friends in Facebook, with 233 friends on average per account. In addition, a majority of Malaysians also have Friendster, MySpace and Twitter accounts, and are logged into social networking sites at least nine hours a day.
Najib said the country also recorded 124.7 per cent mobile phones per 100 people.
"I have engaged with the rakyat through alternative networking sites. Whenever I visit the states, I take time off for my online friends and to meet a cross-section of the people."
Najib also uses the Internet to evaluate feedback on current issues through his tweets and other social networking media.
But he said this form of technology could be good and bad.
"The communication is based on real time and politicians who do not keep up will lose out."
He said politicians could send in news, pictures and other tips through the media.
"This will help youths understand the direction that we are heading. They will also get correct and accurate information."
He said 1Malaysia TV had the potential to engage with youths and shape their minds, but "the content must be attractive to engage them continuously".
1Malaysia TV also entered the Malaysia Book of Records for being the first Internet protocol television to be used in the new media.
It is run by 1Media IPTV and offers RTM1, RTM2, TV3, TV Al Hijrah, MyTV, CCTV1, e-Korea TV, erama tv and Documentary TV.
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