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Lokman Adam, asset or liability for govt?

Questions are raised about his method of communication and whether it has benefited the PH-BN coalition.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
2 minute read
Umno communications director Lokman Adam.
Umno communications director Lokman Adam.

Barisan Nasional's (BN) poor performance at last month's state elections has raised questions about the credibility of Umno communications director Lokman Adam in his role as the government's media secretariat, as the once dominant party continues to struggle with the problem of Malay support. 

Lokman, who was appointed to the Umno Supreme Council after being expelled in 2020 for violating party discipline, was recently recorded criticising Perikatan Nasional (PN) supporters, the majority of whom are Malays, labelling them as "stupid". 

Speaking at a programme with the government machinery, he also urged people not to send their children to PAS-owned childcare centres, known as Pasti. 

Political observer Azizi Safar said Lokman's method of communication came across as further reducing support for Umno.

"For a long time now, Lokman has been holding live sessions every night on Facebook," he said. 

"But support for Umno-BN has not grown. In fact, this seems to have eroded what support they had to begin with."

At the state elections on Aug 12, BN won just 19 of the 108 seats it contested. 

It was completely wiped out in Kedah and Terengganu and won just one seat in Kelantan and two in Selangor and Penang, although it fared better in Negeri Sembilan where it claimed victory in 14 seats. 

Lokman himself had contested as BN candidate for the Sungai Kandis by-election in 2018, but lost. 

In 2019, he accused Anwar Ibrahim of being involved in a sodomy case in Singapore. 

When asked who might be able to perform Lokman's role in his stead, Azizi, a former executive secretary for Penang BN, said Umno information chief Azalina Othman Said held a role higher than that of communications director. 

Azalina was appointed to replace Isham Jalil early this year. 

However, Azizi also alluded to communication problems for Umno that go beyond individual capacities. 

"Umno 'campaigns' only among party members, not to those outside the party," he said. 

Communications expert Abd Aziz Azizam said government parties should work to strengthen the unity and synergy among them. 

"But that agenda is not so clear right now," he added. 

"The synergy in the coalition doesn't appear to be very successful, judging from the last round of state elections and Umno's weakness in contributing to victory for Pakatan Harapan (PH) and BN."

Aziz, of Universiti Teknologi Mara, said this could be seen in the communication flaws which he said Lokman should overcome. 

"But if you think about it, it's a burden to Umno and PH-BN," he said. 

He, too, agreed that Lokman's communication method had not had a positive impact, adding that his position had in fact benefited PN instead.