State polls: Flag war, psychological warfare do not guarantee candidate’s victory

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KOTA BARU: The election machinery of contesting parties have been busy hoisting their respective flags at every available space to signal the imminent start of the election battle, well in advance before the nomination day for the six state elections.


Since the announcement of the candidates on Saturday (July 29), the number of flags has been increasing every day and a check by Bernama in several areas revealed that party flags are not only hoisted along roadsides and on trees but some are being used to make replicas such as kites, houses, and cars.

The Dean of Ghazali Shafie Graduate School, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), College of Law, Government, and International Studies (COLGIS), Prof Dr Rusdi Omar, explained that the flag war conducted by each party serves as a psychological attack on local voters to showcase their strong influence in the area.

“If there is no party flag war, it will not be interesting and lively. These flag wars are also crucial to enliven the campaign atmosphere and spirit among candidates and voters.

“The number of flags does not determine a candidate’s victory. Modern campaign approaches have been adapted to current technological trends, with both voters and candidates favouring social media platforms like ‘TikTok,’ Facebook, and Instagram as their campaign platforms,” he said when contacted by Bernama on Friday (Aug 4).

Commenting further, Rusdi stressed that despite the prevalence of social media in election campaigns, party machinery should not ignore traditional methods such as hoisting flags, hanging posters of candidates, and other promotional exhibits which should not be overlooked by the respective party.

“This is especially important for remote areas with limited internet access, as they rely on these campaign materials to familiarise themselves with the candidates,” he said.


Meanwhile, a voter in Temangan state constituency, Noor Atikah Azli, 26, expressed her preference for observing campaigns of candidates on social media platforms like ‘TikTok’ due to their short videos.

She added that through such platforms, she can learn more about the candidates’ activities even if she cannot meet them in person at the locations they visited.

“Campaigns using social media are crucial for candidates and parties, particularly with the younger generation and fence-sitters as they often vote based on candidates’ personalities in their respective constituencies rather than party affiliations.

“It is undeniable that flag numbers can also influence the outcome in the constituency, however, it does not guarantee any victory. The candidate and party must be courageous and embrace changes in line with modernisation to achieve success,” she added.

A voter in the Panchor state constituency, Mohd Zulfadhli Rosley, 32, said candidates’ campaign approaches, including social media, flags, and posters in their respective areas, must be consistent with their overall efforts.

“If they are heavily focused on Facebook and Instagram but neglect to hoist flags and hang posters around the constituencies they are contesting, it creates an imbalance in the campaign by the party machinery,” he said. – Bernama

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