These are some observations on the official campaign websites of both PKR and BN. Both parties utilized the word ‘Merdeka’ as part of the battle-cry of their respective campaign – Merdekakan Negara Dari Kezaliman Dan Penindasan for PKR and Merdekakan Permatang Pauh for BN. I will be looking at 2 aspects here – how updated is the information provided and the quality of the content. My observations are taken from information uploaded since nomination day (16th August).
As of 6:15pm 21st August, PKR has uploaded 2 new posts while the BN website lacks behind with the latest post dated 2 days back on the 19th August. This is surprising given the fact that the BN machinery has earlier announced its team of 10 people managing the campaign website.
Both websites share the weakness of not indicating clearly the time and date when their posts were uploaded. This is especially so for PKR in which the date is only displayed at the URL bar. No clear indication of the time and date may confuse readers of the sequence of events and may subsequently taint the credibility of the posts (as they can be edited).
However, in terms of updating readers on their campaign activities, both websites seemed to be very up-to-date and they even have advance schedule right up till the eve of polling day (although strictly speaking, the BN website is linked to a blogger site which provides the information).
The major content focus of the two websites seemed to be on refuting the other party’s activities, statements and personality. The BN website emphasized quite heavily on the negative characteristics of Anwar Ibrahim and his association with certain foreign leaders. On the other hand, the PKR website highlighted many alleged abuse and violations on the BN side. While there is a need to counter false information disseminated to the public, what seemed to be sorely lacking in both websites is a more constructive focus on the needs and development of the people in Permatang Pauh.
Other than that, the content mainly details the events and activities of the various party leaders campaigning for the candidates. The BN website did highlight some work done in the area of helping flood victims and mobile healthcare in some rural areas – but it’s far from sufficient to be considered a comprehensive development manifesto for this area. As for the PKR website, it did touch on the welfare of the workers although this was said in the context of Pakatan Rakyat forming the new government. The other interesting thing is that Najib seemed to be featured in both websites. In fact, the BN website has more to say about Najib than the candidate, Ariff Shah himself!
In terms of information on accessibility to the contact persons, PKR has the edge with the contacts on the 3 main operation centres displayed while BN only provides one e-mail address.