2010 Reflection: Year of the BN


(Never underestimate the power of impressions, more so if it was handled by professionals. Image source: http://www.americanprogress.org)

2010 was unfortunately “their” year but they deserved it – they played their cards rights

One of the few best things that BN under Najib did in 2010 (although it was long, long overdue) was getting a new President for MIC but then again, MIC is old news and the old President did not go away with empty hands. He is still around on tax-payers’ payroll. But that is not the main reason why I say 2010 was the year of the BN. Let’s look back on what went wrong for PR and what went right for BN (in no particular order).

Went Wrong for PR

  • Keshwinder Singh of PR jumped ship to BN with a very flimsy excuse. People were getting tired of the “frogs” jumping out from the opposition camp
  • Resignation of Zaid Ibrahim from PKR who went out to form his own political party. Zaid was seen as the independent entity within Pakatan Rakyat to merge all the opposition parties
  • Resignation of Wee Choo Keong from PKR.
  • The “boo-boo” in conducting PKR’s party elections. PKR should have known that it would hit them in the face if they did it the wrong way
  • Banning the 1Malaysia logo despite it been used for years – it was simply stupid and downright childish
  • Sat on the submission of a PR friendly name for the Selangor State Secretary and when it was too late, get so hyped up
  • The hoo-haa on the illegal sand mining in Selangor and how badly the State Government reacted to the accusations
  • PR going all out to defend the criminals with outstanding traffic summons. Sometimes doing something popular does not mean doing something right
  • Start of the Third Force in the political arena which caused the concern that it will create a hung Parliament
  • Lost of the Hulu Selangor seat which was previously held by Pakatan Rakyat to a MIC junior politician (with Samy Vellu still on President’s seat)

Went Right for BN

  • Samy Vellu stepping down as MIC President
  • Khir Toyo (finally) charged for corruption but it was nothing to shout about it
  • Ling Liong Sik charged in the PKFZ fiasco – by then, one of the biggest fish to be hauled up by MACC
  • Najib unveiling NEM to propel the country to be high achievers, promising an interesting future for Malaysia
  • Putting a BN friendly entity to helm the State Secretary seat before PR Government decides to do anything about it
  • Dedicated “instigation” team to discredit the Selangor State Government

But frankly speaking, more damage done to Pakatan Rakyat by Pakatan Rakyat themselves than by BN and so-call NGOs.  If you think about it, some of the hard facts that Pakatan Rakyat failed to capitalised in ensuring continued voters’ support in the next general elections are:-

  • Selangor and Penang under Pakatan Rakyat is doing better than the time it was under BN. There is clear sense of accountability and reduction of corruption under PR than under BN
  • Samy Vellu is not out of the picture – he is still leeching tax-payers’ money in his new assignment (out of the many thousands eligible Malaysians, the Government cannot find no other better person?) and he is yet to be made accountable for the MAIKA fiasco
  • No head up on the PKFZ investigations and prosecution of those had raped millions of tax-payer’s money despite big fishes charged by MACC but who to is going to repay back the millions burned in this project
  • MACC is yet to be very effective – corruption is still riding high in East Malaysia according to reports in the Sarawak Report
  • BN is still weak in management of tax payers money – more so after Idris Jala warned of the high subsidies been paid out to keep prices artificially low. Still remember Tourism Minister RM1.28 million overseas trips?
  • Charge of corruption against Khir Toyo seems too late, too little – what about others?
  • The “Allah” issue – how well unity and integration among Malaysians been in 2010? BN is still consist of race based political parties but PR is more spread out and represents Malaysia as whole better.
  • Politician’s wife interference with the administration tasks and abuse of tax payers’ money (the lady is going on 3 nation trip but on who’s money?)
  • The case of Teoh Beng Hock who died when under interrogation by MACC is yet to be resolved.  He did not commit suicide but there is no homicide as well.

BN played the public relations card very well – they managed to play up PR’s shortcomings and in-fighting, play up the good things that the BN Government have done and at the same time down play the mess that the BN Government has and down play the good things that the PR State Government have done. It is not a big surprise indeed. After all, they had the means (APCO, mainstream media, etc) and the cash to pay for the public relations which would have been expensive. In 2010, PR was certainly at a disadvantage when it comes to the battle of the public relations.

And you can be rest assured that BN will continue to play their upper hands on the war of public relations in 2011 and all the way until they are able to wrestle back the State of Selangor and Penang. What PR can do to counter that and get at least some of the confidence lost in 2010 in 2011? What PR can do to reverse the tables on BN?

Some of the steps that PR can take to improve their image and more importantly, the stand with the cautious voters is nothing new – in fact, we can take the cue from BN for some ideas, for example:-

1. Appoint a professional PR agency / military strategist / professional chess-player to advise PR on how to project a more stable, viable and feasible coalition and how to keep one step ahead of the more experienced, better “armed” BN. Just make sure that the agency’s fees are paid from political party funds instead from the State funds so that integrity of appointment can be persevered and creates no room for scandals.

2. Have proper channel for party members to voice their grievousness without them need to make noise in the mainstream media (where the fact can be presented in advantage of BN), twitters, blogs or personal press conferences. Once the channel has been established, ensure that all comments, critics and suggestions by the members are given its due consideration. For those who have a valid complaint / suggestions, give them the room to make their case – it will be helpful in the long run. For those who been making noise because they just want more position and without any substance, there is no need to tolerate them further – just kick them out from the party to minimize the damage.

3. Have periodic update of the oppositions’ progress of work – similar to BN’s KPI but back it with hard facts and statistics. Periodic updates need to be disseminated in multiple media and channels. Such dissemination of information is not only important to counter BN’s accusations and arguments but also to keep the voters who voted them into power updated on the progress of their representatives. Don’t take voters for a ride – voters know how to read in between the lines too

4. Have a selection committee to vet through candidates and representatives to ensure that they work for the people and is not easily swayed by emotion and personal views. Work closely with the Third Force and NGOs who can provide candidates with the right set of values. Give way to pulse of the local community – one good example, getting the right candidates to be appointed leaders to head Sabah and Sarawak branches.

5. Focus on actual work that benefits the people instead of working to highlight the past wrongdoing of the previous Government. Since 2008, too much time, effort and energy been wasted on digging out the past administration mess instead of moving on and doing a good job for the people. At the same time, the effort of digging up the wrongdoing of the previous administration should be left to the enforcement agencies in the country (if they sleep on this, fire the whole lot after you have become the Government)

6. Be more proactive and ensure that what need to be done to ensure smooth operation of the Government is done as early as possible and with the right procedures. Don’t wait until the BN appoints their own people before deciding to the change the constitution and finalizing your set of lists. After all, making the first move is a good strategy and makes it difficult for attacks to be made.

Frankly speaking, it does not take a genius to make the “dos and don’ts list” for Pakatan Rakyat to get their act together in 2011. There is no assurance that they will win back most of the confidence lost on them over the years since 2008 but who knows, Malaysians are forgiving type and there is a pain in the neck called BN who have not make major changes for the betterment of the country.

We still need the opposition to be strong and viable to provide the alternative option for the country. We have been doing nothing but waste money and precious time, bickering among ourselves instead of focusing on what is more important. For Pakatan Rakyat, 2010 was not their year but who knows what can happen in 2011.

Listen up and start getting things done.

Read Also

2010: Politics in Malaysia was won by Public Relations?

Political Double Speak

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Snippets – 22 December 2010


(27 people died but what caused the accident is yet to be confirmed, at least by the right people but already fingers being pointed at the driver and the bus whilst the bodies of the dead Thai tourists being sent home. Image source: http://www.salon.com/)

Driver, Bus Blamed

At least, this is what the police are saying BEFORE the official investigation by MIROS is completed.

Police believe that the express bus crash at Km15 of the Cameron Highlands-Simpang Pulai road yesterday in which 27 people were killed, mostly Thai tourists, was due to driver factor and technical problems of the bus.

Perak police deputy chief Datuk Zakaria Yusof who said this, also denied that the accident could have been caused by the road’s oily patches.

And then, after making a rather “jumping the gun” statement, Zakaria Yusof says this to cover his back:-

“However, it is up to the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros), Puspakom and Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) to determine the cause of the accident,” he told a press conference, here, today.

(Source)

What he meant by that? It is up to MIROS (now changed to independent board) to determine the cause but I am saying that it is due to the bus and the driver? MIROS already mentioned that investigations will take about 2 weeks to complete and yet, Zakaria, did not see the wisdom to wait for the investigations to be completed and jump into his own conclusions based on initial observations.

If this been said by a lay man, it would have been understandable (after all, we have seen accidents happened due to reckless drivers and defective buses and why should this be any different) but Zakaria is not a lay person – he is the deputy police chief for the state of Perak and what he says matters. It may even influence on the outcome of the official investigations.

(Uthaya after release from ISA detention was a force to reckon with. As a human rights lawyer, he was in thick of action when a number of temples was demolished in Selangor and organized the unprecedented Hindraf rally in the city. Image source: TheNutGraph)

Separate Indian Channel

Uthayakumar and Hindraf before the last general election were doing just fine – despite having 4 of the main leaders under ISA, Hindraf remained as a pressure group to both BN and PR. Hindraf sided with PR during the last general election and contributed to the tsunami that shook BN upside down.

However, things have changed a lot since then especially when you read things like this:-

THE government needs to have a separate television channel for the Indian community like the Vasantham channel in Singapore

Human Rights Party secretary-general P. Uthayakumar as making the call in reference to Bernama TV decision not to air Tamil news on Friday which left many Indians unhappy and dissatisfied.

He said Indian labourers, especially those who earned about an average of RM600 a month, could not subscribe for Astro to watch Indian programmes as it was too costly.

(Source)

Should HRP concentrate on getting a separate Indian TV channel that may only provide entertainment or should concentrate on getting those laborers (with average RM600 per month) on ways to improve their life and get them up above the level of poverty and low income? Which is more important for these laborers and their children?

Long time ago, when I visited my uncle who was staying in a FELDA settlement and worked hard in his own plantation, I noticed that they did not have TV (they were not that rich at that time) but that did not stop them from having access to information and entertainment. They had newspaper and radio in place of local TV or satellite TV. They had less time to watch TV but had plenty to watch over their children’s education and work.

At times, what is needed by these lowly paid laborers is not a TV channel for entertainment but rather a way out from the confines of poverty and hardship.

(The 2nd MCLM candidate is better than a couple PR politicians and several dozen BN politicians and share with ideals with his father, the late M.G.G. Pillai. Image source: http://alhaj.wordpress.com)

MCLM’s 2nd Candidate

If you have been following up Malaysia Today, you know about the “Third Force” and there is some positive development with the Third Force:-

The Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) has named human rights lawyer Sreekant Pillai as the second person from its movement to contest in the next general election.

Sreekant said he had chosen to be independent because “the current government has nothing more it can offer to the people and the existing parties are not doing what the rakyat wants”. Sreekant is the son of the late veteran journalist M.G.G. Pillai.

(Source)

I know Sreekant Pillai personally and I dare say that if there is one candidate that worth our votes in the next general election, he would be the one. Although one would see the Third Force as a potential cause of hung Parliament and question the composition of candidates of MCLM todate (2 candidates and both are lawyers), I think it is pertinent to see what we have now. Quality of politicians that we voted in to Parliament in the last election has been todate…shameful.

No doubt the arrogance and reckless mismanagement of the country have toned down after there is stronger presence of the opposition in the Parliament, these politicians still need to be reminded that at end of the day, it is the interest of the people that matters the most (especially after certain politicians have sold off the voters trust to jump political party).

MCLM may provide that gap and enforcement of getting the right people for the job.