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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The People Have Spoken

The results from Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau are but definite proof that more than a year after March 8, 2008, the people are still resolved to show their discontentment and complete unhappiness with the ways of the Barisan Nasional in general and UMNO in particular. It is also conversely a display of strengthening support for Pakatan Rakyat, regardless of the apparent ideological and political differences in the allegiance of the 3 political parties of which it consists.

That the two by-elections are won by the Pakatan Rakyat with increased majority is of course a cause for concern for the BN and the newly minted Prime Minister, Najib Razak. Add in the fact that the whole might of the BN's election machinery - including government machinery - was at full steam to ensure a BN victory, the win by Pakatan Rakyat is conclusively a mega achievement in the true spirit of the proverbial David and Goliath fight.

The BN has done everything within its power to win these two by-elections. The whole cabinet could be seen campaigning tirelessly in the two areas. Hotshots from the Federal Capital converged the two areas and lighted the campaign trail. Amidst the cries of reforms from within UMNO and the euphoria of a new found "unity" - when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi held the hand of Mahathir Mohammad and Najib Razak at the closing ceremony of the recently concluded UMNO General Assembly - as well as the installation of Najib Razak as the nation's 6th Prime Minister, the campaign started and was conducted with such intensity that any independent observer would be hard pressed to think of a PR victory, let alone with an increased majority.

No stone was left unturned by the BN to woo the voters. Schools were visited by the Minister of Education. Rhetoric was aplenty - where Muhyiddin Yassin's call for the "slaughter" of Nizar for the latter's apparent treasonous behaviour towards the Sultan has to take the cake and its icing too - as well as name calling and the usual brow beating. (It was quite a disappointment though when the "Class F contract vending machine" which was used during the Kuala Trengganu by-election was nowhere to be seen this time). Concerts by scantily clad Chinese lady singers were even thrown by the BN at a fishing village attended by, non other than the defender of the Muslim faith, Zahid Hamidi who later famously proclaimed that the Chinese culture must be respected.

As the new Prime Minister, Najib Razak made a refreshing inaugural speech, releasing 13 ISA detainees and promising a comprehensive review of the ISA; singing the oft repeated unity, one Malaysia and fairness slogans as well as inviting all Malaysians to embark on a great journey with him. This was expected to make an impact on the voters.

The most startling show was of course reserved for the grand old man of UMNO, Mahathir Mohammad. After Najib Razak was installed as the PM, Mahathir Mohammad rejoined UMNO. He then happily hit the campaign trail, campaigning for the party which he proclaimed as a "corrupt party" just about a week before. It was thought that Mahathir Mohammad would take the by-elections by storm and galvanise the voters to support the BN.

The Pakatan Rakyat, on the other hand, had to face obstacle after obstacle in their campaign. Their rallies were invaded by the Federal Reserve Unit. Acid laced water was sprayed at the attendees. In Bukit Selambau, the police moved in without warning and even fired tear gas at the crowd attending a PR rally. When permits were given, unreasonable conditions were imposed. A certain dead Mongolian woman's name was even prohibited by the police from being mentioned by the PR in any of its rally. A person caught selling that particular woman's mask was arrested. And leading to the campaign, the Suara Keadilan and Harakah - the PKR's and PAS's respective publication - were suspended from publication for 3 months by the Home Ministry.

The state owned mass media were of course playing their old games of blowing the BN horn while puking at everything which the PR did. Interviews with the BN supporters who would laud the "development brought about" by the BN government were shown every day and night. The newspapers were full of praise for the BN and its leaders. Not a single teeny weeny good report was made about the PR. That is what they call "balanced and factual" reporting.

Despite it all, PR still won the two by-elections. What went wrong for the BN? If it needs more than 3 minutes for the BN or UMNO to find out what went wrong for them, then may I suggest that the party be dissolved forthwith.

First of all it shows that the people don't believe what the state owned or mainstream mass media are saying anymore. Everything they say is being disbelieved or at the very least taken with a huge cup of sodium chloride. The younger voters now are a sophisticated and educated lot. They scourge the internet for alternative news. It is, rightly or wrongly, set in their mind that whatever is being said by the mass media is a lie and conversely everything which is said on the internet is the truth. Can they be blamed for that? If the BN thinks that elections could be won by massive propaganda, positive or negative, through the mass media, it is completely ignorant of reality. The people now laugh at all the so called news and "balanced reporting" by the mass media. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that mass propaganda undertaken by the BN spectacularly backfired!

Secondly, the people just do not believe all the cries and slogans for "reform" and "change". A case in point is the apparent differences between what the UMNO leadership is saying and what its grass root leaders were saying at the UMNO Assembly. While Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak pledged and in fact pleaded for reforms and changes, the speeches from the delegates were talking about filling up the GLCs and Universities with UMNO people! They were talking about withdrawing scholarships from those students who dare oppose UMNO. They were talking about how UMNO should wantonly use its powers when the powers are still with it.

Viewed from that perspective, Najib Razak's release of the 13 ISA detainees and the promise of a comprehensive review of the ISA also backfired. While the true intention was doubted by the people, such move was also seen and perceived as a victory of sorts by the people. In their mind, that was the effect of the people's pressure on the government. In their mind, if the people would unite to pile on the pressure, perhaps more detainees would be released and the ISA abolished. And so, in their mind, they were saying, let pile on more pressure by voting for PR.

Thirdly, the BN should be mindful that we are all now living in the 21st century, a new millennium. Character assassination don't work anymore. Calling a person a traitor without basis don't work. Spreading nude pictures of a PR MP don't work. Opening up blogs to call really bad names against the opposition candidate don't work. The people want engagement. The people are now smart enough to desire an intellectual engagement. Calling name is so passe!

Fourthly, the people now want answers and they want them fast. And clear. Parochialism is a thing of the past. Even the Malays are not easily bought by Ketuanan Melayu anymore. The people look at real issues which are affecting or may affect them. The economy. The sharing of the economic pie. Education. Justice. Fairness. An across the board enforcement of the law as opposed to selective one. These are close to the people's heart nowadays.

If there is one thing which the people despise, and despise strongly at that, is hypocrisy. And this is the most important element. The advent of technology now makes it easy for the people to store data and facts and access the same within seconds. And it is just not kosher for politicians and leaders to say one thing and do completely the opposite and be found to have done completely the opposite.

In the two by-elections, the people came out, they saw and they conquered.

21 comments:

zakwan said...

U really hit the nail wit this piece,Mr Art Harun
Unfortunately,UMNO will never change dulu,kini dan selamanya

The only way 4 them 2 change is 2 oust Najis n elect KuLi

Congrats 2 PR 4 conquerin the two Bukits
Congrats 2 PKR n Jawah Gerang 4 puttin up a tough fight eventhough the results r not in their favour

pah nur said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pah nur said...

Even a strong charismatic character like Mahathir managed not to change the Malays. It's only the Malays who can change themselves,change their mentalities. The new Malay Dilemma arises presently, when there are two sets of Malays. One, a progressing type,who see "Ketuanan Melayu" no better than "The White Supremacy" or the "KKK", ready to compete with other races and not hide behind the NEP.
The other are those who likes to go the other way (and I don't mean it in the Kaum Nabi Lut sense of it). In order for UMNO to survive, if not to stay relative, they should not talk about change, rather should start to change, right about.......last GE...but the malays are well known for being resilient to changes, unable to grasp the concept that everything in the universe changes by the second, and if one do not keep up with the changes, they may become obsolete through time. They shouldn't be talking about change, the new generation deciphers that action speaks louder than words,UMNO should be executing change....the question of "can they" is less relevant than the more important question, "are they willing to"?

Anonymous said...

Dear Art,

Wonderfull article!

The only way for UMNO to change is to change their entire supreme council and all their headhonchos. Then they need to recruit people whom have only one thing in mind.. the rakyat's interest. That, my friend, lies the biggest issue with UMNO! And all they have in their hearts (if ever they have one) is how to obtain riches and accumulate power.

NanoNano

Concerned said...

Excellent piece! Comprehensive. The BN is commissioning an "independent" post-motem of their defeats in the two Bukits. Go no further than this page: you have provided them with it, gratis.

But will they listen to what you say? No, not in UMNO, but maybe in some of the other component parties of the BN. As you have noted and as we know, the problem in UMNO lies with its younger members, who are, if anything, more bigoted than some of their party elders, and have a bloated sense of the importance and indispensability of UMNO. As the problem lies with the young, the party will not be able to renew itself, and this factor will lead to the downfall of the party as we know it today.

It is hoped that some of the more important members of UMNO, such as Tengku Razaleigh, will continue contributing to Malaysian politics in a governmental or semi-governmental role after the demise of the party.

Voice of the Oppressed, Suppressed said...

Good analysis for the simple man and women who do not understand the gobbledygook from renowned political analysts from the Universities.

So here we have case of BN + Police + MACC +EC+ Media + AG + Information Dept + Kemas + BTN + Judiciary could not override the WILL of the rakyat.

But then, will they ever learn?
If they did, they would have reformed after March 8 2008.

Without an independent POLICE, MACC, EC etc, BN is as good as dead.

Anonymous said...

We see the rakyat really want to see change, every single soul should help Malaysia suceeds in acheiving a real democracy and thus help what and wherever-if you're writer keep on writing

Anonymous said...

wow..very very nicely articulated. no need for any independent analysis of their failures..just please send your article to the MSM..but then again, knowing these MSM, they won't dare publish...nvm, all the faster for their demise..

Karen said...

a joy to read as always =)

Anonymous said...

Why we must be talking on surviving UMNO. UMNO is a mess so the "great leaders" until the "grass root". Everything in their mind how to "kenyang their own perut" so proud n arrogant. They think PAS just a low kasta party. No match to them. No dignity. The rakyat undi just a sympathy undi. Come on laa.. Rakyat can think with their own mind.Whatever related to UMNO are dogshits.UMNO n their leaders are no longer valid in this 21st century. Yesterday nite in AWANI what a the heck are they talking about. UMNO shld change to get Rakyat back. Najib is this n that. And blaa.. blaa..For me Najib n his brotherhood of UMNO are scumbeg. No matter wat you do... you are scumbegs...

Stone said...

Nice article Art and spot on...

I heard so many times about TRANSFORMASI, REFORM ... but I dont see any change ... please tell us the people about tranformasi and reform .... it's just like ISLAM HADHARI ... every UMNO chap keep saying it but nobody know what it means...

If situation like this continue I'm going to be first to say ASTA LA VISTA UMNO....

Dear Art can I post your article on my blog ...

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

very good analysis - insightful and logical. That brings out the crux - do we think UMNO is so stupid not understanding this? NO. There just too much of self-interest at stake and display of human greed at the maximum!
Dont ever expect UMNO to change. Pak Lah wanted to change[I still believe he genuinely wanted to change but he didn't have the power base and determination and intelligence to do so], the UMNO war loards ate him alive.
Well, Najib is much stronger but is he sincerely initiating change? Not a minute will I believe. Judge the person from his past behavious. He is not born yesterday and new to this UMNO governtment. He's been playing key role. A man that change overnight is the most dangerous man! Just as the TMM.

art harun said...

Stone,

Would be honoured if you did so. Would be glad if you could just state the origin to this website.

cheerz

Antares said...

Hey, Art, don't migrate just yet... stick around for some Big Action coming right up! :-)

donplaypuks® said...

Not only have the PEOPLE spoke, they have shut the big F Maha Firaun up.

I think for the first time in his life Firaun has understood how irrelevant he has become selling the same old racist shit to us.

More than that, and this is interesting and crucial, even UMNO has rejected his attempt at trying to do a LKY on us to establish a Maha Dynasty in M'sia.

In 55 BC, I think, Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by a conspiracy led by his best friend Brutus for precisely that.

I believe in 1 Malaysia, 1 Nation; but we have no need for Emperors or Glocal Mongolian Ambassadors!
http://donplaypuks.blogspot.com

Wenger J Khairy said...

I like this one the most
"If it needs more than 3 minutes for the BN or UMNO to find out what went wrong for them, then may I suggest that the party be dissolved forthwith"

Actually I disagree, the problems facing the BN are not simple. To me its like cancer complicated with a heart condition and diabetes. You just don't know which one is going to kill you.

DatoSeri said...

Great one.

I like this part:
"Concerts by scantily clad Chinese lady singers were even thrown by the BN at a fishing village attended by, non other than the defender of the Muslim faith, Zahid Hamidi who later famously proclaimed that the Chinese culture must be respected. "

This Zahid boy thinks that the orang Cina's culture is just completely opposite of our Muslim faith, by exposing more body parts.

And remember him as a repentented ex-supporter of Anwar crying in front of Mahathir...


"Together we can bring back democracy!"

LAT said...

Change ? Reform ? Is the very last thing in their mind, therefore let New-umno be a history in our land. Let Tun Mahathir be the 1st Chapter of the New-Umno and Najib-the 66666666666th PM to be the last & closing chapter of the New-umno.BBBBBeNNNN !

Anonymous said...

art,

your views on the latest federal courts decision it has the authority to intervene in Perak coup though the constitution clearly states that the decision of the Speaker is final and outside the scope of the courts. I am not surprise with the decision coming from a perceived kangaroo court but your views would be most enlightening to a layman like me.

art harun said...

Dear Anon,

Frankly I do not know what was argued in that case and what were the reasons given by the Court in allowing the case to go on.

I will write about it as and when I have more information.

cheers.

art harun said...

Dear Anon,

Supreme Court Justice NH Chan has actually written an excellent article on the issue you raised.

http://www.loyarburok.com/the-system/when-justice-is-not-administered-according-to-law/#more-1660