Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has gone in full gear to ready the party for the upcoming General Election (GE) that will happen anytime next year. ‘Ceramah’ are being organized on a daily basis and this has been going on endlessly since the 2008 GE. I think the PR strategy is to exploit the momentum of their 2008 GE successes, despite the occasional hiccups within the loose coalition over some teething issues. Today, PR is much stronger and is able to galvanize themselves into a credible force to challenge their political foe in the upcoming GE. The strength in PR today can further be strengthened by their successes in governing the states captured by them during the previous GE.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) strategy is to weaken PR morally by exploiting what apparent weaknesses found in PR’s leadership and in the states it governs. I think this strategy has backfired for many reasons, some of which are enumerated below;
1. Exposing moral issues of individual PR party leaders can only lead to a counter expose of moral issues perpetrated by BN leaders, and there are many to list.
2. To attack the PR controlled states for poor governance is of little bearing because it is quite illogical for a 3 year old government to outclass and outdo 54 years governance by the BN government. Issues of corruption and abuse of power of BN years of governance can be exposed in tons. However, this should not be the issue to be taken up by PR to discredit the BN government, because time is not in the favour of a newly appointed PR government. The PR government has to immediately prove that theirs is a better government by formulating policies that will appease the rakyat, in a way that the rakyat see changes and hope for the future.
3. Using a language of threat to arouse people’s support is a poor showing of one’s character and upbringing. This has been PM Najib’s major failure and his use of such language surprised me. Certainly, his late father would not have used such a language ever. PM Najib needs a brushing in interpersonal relations to improve his oratory skills. Remember the 'crushed bones' and 'you help me and I help you' statements.
4. Using race and religion to garner Malay support, but this strategy has turned not only non Malays outside the BN to feel ‘uncomfortable’, but a similar feeling is felt from among non Malay component parties of the BN. Likewise, moderate and likeminded Malays that are apolitical have made their displeasure known that this strategy is damning UMNO itself.
5. Some agencies of the government are of little help in trying to portray BN as a people’s government. Instead, what they seemed to be doing are to act subservient to the wishes of the political masters. This is very obvious in the actions taken by the police and the judiciary in particular. The Election Commission and the MACC too has also come under heavy criticism from the opposition and civil society alike.
6. All government controlled media (print and electronic) are notorious for being the mouth piece of the BN government i.e. everything is right with the BN and nothing is good with the opposition. And it is because of this that the rakyat now rely more on bloggers that are flourishing on a daily basis. Fair reporting is not what the government controlled media seems to believes in. One only needs to click randomly to any blog and to feel the frustration that bloggers has towards the ruling government. I say this in all sincerity.
Seriously, UMNO’s new approach and strategy to deal with the opposition has to be carefully worked out, and traditional ways are no longer effective. Even seeking an alliance with PERKASA or PEKIDA will not help. I say this because UMNO has failed to think of winning the support of the other races i.e. Chinese, Indians and other indigenous races, and supporting PERKASA and PERKIDA will only distance the support of these races away from UMNO. Even now, there is a distancing of its BN partners from UMNO, and if UMNO were to rely solely on Malay support, the party is doomed.
Winning today’s election is all about winning the hearts of the population, and ours is a multi racial and religious society where we have no other option, but to be living together. Because of UMNO’s narrow and skewed view (they still talk about Malay supremacy) of the other races, UMNO has not only lost its non Malay support, but has also lost its Malay support, particularly the urban Malays. If at all there is any support left, it is from the rural Malays, and even this is dwindling too.
With all that I have said of UMNO, would that mean that PR now has a better chance of making major inroads into BN controlled states, and eventually winning the next GE? My answer is YES, if UMNO/BN continues to do all that I have listed above, and think that their 54 years of ‘good deeds’ is sufficient proof to rally the rakyat’s continued support for the BN. UMNO must realize that the consequence of them losing is real, and PR has all to gain from UMNO’s weaknesses. For a democracy to strive, a change in government is only natural.
While PR has gone in full gear drawing crowds at their ‘ceramah’, UMNO/BN on the other hand is still in deep slumber, relying only on the mainstream media as its propaganda machine. In the area that I reside, ‘ceramah’ by the opposition is carried out on a daily basis. If it is not a PR ‘ceramah’, it is the individual component party that does the ‘ceramah’. Now, may I ask where are the big boys of UMNO/BN? UMNO/BN strategy is to win the urban lot first, and winning the urban lot will naturally spill over into the rural areas. This is UMNO/BN biggest failure. Winning Putrajaya, an urban constituency with a meager voter population does not constitute a major victory for the BN. Winning Kuala Lumpur does.
Finally, the million ringgit question – will Malaysia see a change in government in the next GE? My answer is YES, not that I am pro PR and anti BN or vice versa, but I notice a sincere desire in the rakyat to see a change. I suppose the Arab Spring must have some influence in the rakyat’s changing desires.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION