While Whatsapp remains the chat app of choice among Singaporeans, Telegram has been fast rising as an app to be reckoned with. Recently, we wrote about an NSF-built Telegram bot that, like the most on-the-ball friend you could have, pushes us notifications whenever MRT lines experience a disruption. More than just a chat platform, Telegram has been an enabler of such bots and even channels, which, as compared to the one-on-one nature of bots, is a tool to broadcast public messages to large audiences. Channels can also have an unlimited number of members, and new members would also be able to see the entire message history in a channel once they join. With the rising attention and usage of the app, it’s probably then no surprise that our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also decided to jump onto the platform to better reach out to Singaporeans – especially smartphone-toting millennials.
Of course, it’s not just a case of social media FOMO – social media platforms give him a means to reach out to those who might not be following the often ‘heavy’ political scene.
In an interview with ASEAN journalists, he admitted that since “people were spending more time on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, […] he wanted to have an online presence there too”.
His social media posts also help in ‘softening’ the stoic image of politicians and leaders.
Thus, it was only a matter of time that PM Lee and his office took this engagement to the next level.