The internet is driving change in every part of our lives. It is a giant, ever-changing repository of information that anyone with a connection can access, enabling instant communication between individuals and groups across nations and continents. And it is unleashing creativity and collaboration in ways that have never before been possible.
Keeping on top of these trends is hugely important, so I was delighted to speak to the World Bloggers and Social Media Summit in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. I also had the opportunity to speak with Rina Azmira, my one millionth Facebook follower and her parents, as well as unveil my new Instagram account, which you can follow here.
I may be biased but I truly believe Malaysia is a perfect place for conferences like this. The combination of a solid tech infrastructure with our naturally sociable personalities has put us amongst the most avid users of social media. A recent study even found that Malaysia, along with Brazil, has the highest Twitter penetration in the world.
With social media, everyone can be a publisher of content no matter how technically minded or wealthy they are. It is naturally very open and collaborative by nature, and people – especially ‘digital natives’ who have grown up with the internet – now have higher expectations for openness in all spheres of life.
Government and politics is no exception to this, which is why I have tried my best to communicate on the newest platforms and in the most relevant ways. And once you’ve opened up there’s no going back. That’s why I’ve asked all Cabinet Ministers to use social media, and made it a key expectation for all of my party’s candidates.
I have also made sure that as a Government we are working to help everyone to do the same in their own field of work, through initiatives like Digital Malaysia, smartphone vouchers for young people, and expanding broadband access.
In the new world of social media it’s a case of adapting or being left behind. That means people and organisations in positions of power must approach social media with an open mind. It also means the rakyat must be forward-looking in seizing the opportunities it provides – and the Government has a responsibility to help them to do so.