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What the youth think of RTM

Some say it is past its prime and that the government could have chosen a more effective platform.

Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh
3 minute read
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim speaks on RTM's Naratif Khas programme in Kuala Lumpur, Jan 6. Photo: Facebook
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim speaks on RTM's Naratif Khas programme in Kuala Lumpur, Jan 6. Photo: Facebook

As a child, Intan Suraya often sat with her parents in front of the television, watching singers perform classic songs on RTM and TV1. 

More than two decades later, she still finds herself humming along and singing old favourites together with her parents. 

Now a university graduate with a degree in political science from Universiti Sains Malaysia, Intan cherishes her memories from childhood. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, though, she said she had never felt much of a connection with the political campaigns broadcast on the channels as well. 

In fact, she believes that political campaigns on RTM have become weaker since the last general election in November and the instalment of the new coalition government. 

"RTM broadcasts are for older people like my parents," she said. 

"What is there on RTM? I like the classic songs and the family-themed dramas. The dramas are good. But nothing else.

"Everything else is a rehash of outdated methods that have been used for a very long time." 

Intan, who works as a data clerk at an Australia-based health company, said none of the campaign ads or government programmes aired by RTM were interesting. 

Lately, she added, commercial interludes had been occupied by montages featuring Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. 

She said any national reforms should in fact begin with government broadcasting stations such as RTM, to bring them up to date and make a bigger impression on the youth.

She said this would help dispel the stigma of RTM being merely a government propaganda machine. 

Intan is among millions of youth in the country who, according to studies, spend much of their time on the internet and social media. 

For some, the recent material broadcast by RTM has been more government propaganda than anything else. 

A case in point was an infographic shared by the broadcaster in December last year, detailing the responsibility of the people to accept the state of the country's administration and urging a stop to voices of discontent. 

Some had questioned the effectiveness and relevance of such methods in the digital age.

"What is this unity government? Where did they get this sort of political science?" Twitter user @suffiakamari said. 

"YB comedy minister @fahmi_fadzil wake up call bro. It's not effective anymore. Who is going to trust this propaganda?" 

Lukman, a draftsman in Cyberjaya, said the government should have made social media its platform for propaganda efforts. 

He said the shift could have been made if the administration was not confident in the use of television stations like RTM.  

"Now, it's slow on both RTM and social media," he said, adding that the effects of this would be seen at the state elections to come. 

In any given week, he said, he spent only about 20 minutes watching RTM programmes on either TV1 or TV2 – mostly singing programmes or classic dramas from the P Ramlee era.

"Even the call to prayer, we just use our phones. Who still depends on RTM for this? Maybe the previous generation," he added. 

Intan meanwhile said that slogans such as "Madani government" were not widely understood. 

"The government hasn't really succeeded in encouraging these, despite the commercials and video campaigns on RTM or RTM-affiliated radio stations," she said.