(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.
2010: Politics in Malaysia was won by Public Relations?
Political Double Speak