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The viral 'YB' making waves on social media with '1R' videos

The man known only as YB Viral speaks about his venture into social media and the current political situation.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
4 minute read
YB Viral waits to begin a live telecast on TikTok at a studio in Taman Melawati in Selangor.
YB Viral waits to begin a live telecast on TikTok at a studio in Taman Melawati in Selangor.

With carefully styled hair, a moustache and glasses, a man known only as YB Viral speaks on TikTok about current events. 

He speaks casually, without a rigid structure or arrangement characteristic of serious podcasts, yet rakes in hundreds of millions of views. 

But while his initials point towards the title of MPs in Parliament, YB in his case refers to "Yang Bersuara" or "he who speaks". 

"We see the behaviour of the YBs in the Dewan Rakyat, and we shake our heads," he said in a recent interview with MalaysiaNow. 

"We began making videos criticising these YBs, and each time we did, millions of people watched them. 

"It became a brand name, and eventually YB Viral came to mean 'Yang Bersuara'." 

YB Viral was once a staunch supporter of Barisan Nasional (BN), and the coalition's fall from power at the 2018 general election was the impetus for his growing participation in politics. 

Averse to the policies introduced by Pakatan Harapan (PH), BN's nemesis at the time, during its 22 months in power, he and a group of friends formed an NGO and became involved in activism. 

Together, they began releasing content covering political and current issues on social media. 

At first, he showed his face in videos uploaded to YouTube, but after receiving threats, the format of his content changed to narration. 

And when TikTok began making waves in the country, YB Viral was ready, venturing onto the social media platform after the Nov 19 election last year. 

Today, he is known as an influencer and is even in personal contact with a number of ministers and former ministers from both PH and BN. 

"After GE15, the day we decided to fight the government and signed a studio lease was the first day I uploaded a video on TikTok. I got a total of 10,000 followers," he said.

He and his friends at the studio were concerned about the direction of the government after Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was appointed as one of two deputy prime ministers despite the string of corruption charges against him in court. 

For YB Viral, the move was proof of "extreme hypocrisy" by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. 

While he and his friends had campaigned for BN at GE15, they had been against Zahid as Umno president since the 2018 election.  

"He will destroy Umno," he said. "I released our own predictions of the election results, and it was very close to what eventually happened. 

"We believed that even if Ismail Sabri Yaakob was allowed to complete a full term, Umno would still lose – but not as badly as it did." 

Social media

On social media, YB Viral has reached more than 55% of Malaysia's TikTok users, 55% of its YouTube users and 35% of Facebook users although his YouTube subscribers went down by some 10,000 after he criticised the coalition government.

Citing one video in which he had questioned the "Madani Economic Narrative" launched in June, he said MPs from the government bloc had contacted him. 

"After that, they changed the name and no longer used the term 'narrative'," he said. 

A crew member films as YB Viral speaks in a live telecast on TikTok. 

But despite the commotion on social media, YB Viral has never been brought to court. The secret, according to him, is to stick to the facts and refrain from slandering opponents. 

He is also careful to steer clear of the 3Rs – religion, race and royalty. 

"I talk about 1R – the rakyat," he said. "If we look after the economy, the majority will be happy and the minority will be happy as well. 

"We can return to the good old days." 

While he has received backlash from so-called micro-influencers linked to PH and BN, he said their message did not resonate beyond party lines. 

Perikatan Nasional (PN), on the other hand, appeared able to upset any absolute victory by PH because of a more successful messaging strategy, he said, adding that he had already seen such situations while campaigning for BN. 

Recalling last year's general election, he said both PH and PN had campaigned against BN.

"In the mind of the voters then, they only had two choices: Anwar or Muhyiddin Yassin," he said. 

Describing Anwar's rhetoric as "too angry and complicated", he said this might have made the youth think twice about their support. 

"Meanwhile, what did Muhyiddin do? He played with tops and followed the 'swiping' trend. The people said, 'I want someone like this, who is 'cooler'." 

He said Muhyiddin's message was also easier to understand, adding that PH "made things too complicated". 

"Until today, the audience does not know what they are trying to get across to them," he said. 

"They are still doing the same thing, criticising individual personalities instead of talking about public interests." 

And when the next general election rolls around, he believes that more people will start speaking up and shaping public opinion. 

"The influencers who don't sell out but remain authentic will be the ones who hold sway."