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


Messy, Dirty But Necessary

(PKR cannot be a one-man-show. At end of the day, it has to rely on committees, rules and procedures. Dr Molly Cheah now heads a nine-member central election committee — made up of ordinary members — who will oversee the party’s first ever direct elections. Image source: http://media.themalaysianinsider.com)

It would have been better if PKR had bull-dozed it’s “first in Malaysia – one member, one vote” election process and see what had worked and what did not work and improved on the next election. Certainly when you are doing something for the very first time, you cannot expect things to go smooth. So I was kind of surprised when I noticed the press release from Zaid Ibrahim’s camp.

When PKR announced that all members will be able to pick their representatives to the key posts in the party, the idea was kind of visionary. No one else have done the same – most of us are aware that the members of a political party at the lower level will pick a representatives who will then decide on behalf of it’s branch members on who goes to hold more important posts in the party. Money politics is widespread and sometimes you end up electing the wrong person to the wrong post.

It is the same with all other political party all over Malaysia with some variations here and there – both from the Barisan side and Pakatan side ((perhaps MIC will have one extra criteria – President’s blessing).

So, when PKR announced its 1 member, 1 vote system – it did sound “revolutionary”. It also sounded fair – every member deciding who going to lead what instead of having an exclusive few that decides the fate of the party (and the nation). RPK once talked about the 191 division leaders of UMNO deciding the fate of the country. In 2010, that meant almost 400,000 PKR members will be voting for some 8.570 candidates at divisional level in almost 145 divisions and about 25 candidates for the central leadership council.

One thing that was not clear to everyone is how PKR planned to do it. 400,000 is a big number and the fact that this 400,000 members will be voting twice makes it mind boggling. Yes, it sounded simple enough for some but what happened in reality was something far from simple. It is a logistic nightmare. In fact, the mess started way before the voting days – from the time to nominate who will run for which position – accusations has been flying around, rules bent to allow some in and even had cries of sabotage and backstabbing. That in itself is a big mess. So, it was not a big surprise to see the same mess during the voting days.

Free Malaysia Today reports:-

1. Kota Bharu, Kelantan: Although the ballot papers for the other positions were available, the polling did not proceed because the ballot papers for the position of Vice Chief of the Women’s Wing were not available.

2. Tumpat, Kelantan: The ballot papers have not arrived as at 12:00 noon and the ballot boxes were also not ready. Thus, many members left for Friday prayers.

3. Langkawi, Kedah: The ballot papers arrived very late and registration of new members is taking place whilst the polls are ongoing, and it seems that some of these new members are being allowed to vote.

4. Alor Setar, Kedah: The ballot papers have not arrived as at 12:00 noon and many members left for Friday prayers without voting.

And given the logistic nightmare that PKR is having with it’s first of it’s kind, one member, one vote, it is no surprise to see the pro-BN bloggers having a field day on this mess. Syed (of OutSyed The Box) said:-

Much earlier, when PKR first announced that their party would employ the “one man one vote” system for party elections, I had predicted it would be the end of PKR. My reasons were slightly different but still valid.

My point earlier was that if PKR has a ‘one man one vote’ system in a multi racial party, the Chinese and the Indians in PKR will be left out in the cold. PKR is a Malay majority party. Malays will vote for Malays, Chinese will vote Chinese and the Indians will be swinging somewhere. Since majority wins, it will become a Malay party. The Chinese can look up the word “sidelines” in the dictionary. The Indians can check out the word ‘curry leaves’.

But this will not work in the multi racial PKR. Just wait and see.

But this most recent turn of events in PKR is not surprising. They have not even sorted out the logistics of running their elections. This is typical Anwar Ibrahim – let there be chaos. There is going to be major chair throwing over this one.

I know some of these PKR folks. Sorry guys – this is immaturity, childishness and just plain silliness. After the excitement is over, you can go home. Maybe find some other outlets to let go your “I don’t know who I am” or “where I fit in” steam. It takes maturity some intelligence and a better understanding of reality to step up to the plate.

So what will happen at the end? I think Moses will have to appear with his magic staff and calm the tumultuous sea. Everyone will have to simmer down and Moses will lead them through the stormy waters. Meaning if the situation gets too out of control, the Brader may suspend the elections (which are what this Press Statement demands) and just appoint whoever to whatever. End of clown story.

Whilst Syed has a valid point there, I beg to differ – he missed some points here and there too.

It is not right to put the blame squarely on Anwar Ibrahim (“Brader”) – yes, he is the main force behind PKR but it is about time, the PKR members do things on their own without having Anwar leading them by their nose (more so when Anwar is facing Sodomy 2). For this election, PKR had formed a party election steering committee – whilst it has not been effective (some called it as being too soft) – to monitor the progress of the election (so why say “this is typical Anwar Ibrahim”).

If there are shortcomings apparent in the election process, the place to take up the shortcomings would be at the party election steering committee. Hopefully the election procedures will be firmed up as time goes on.

Obviously PKR was not prepared for the logistic shortcomings but having a process that is too new in Malaysia, there will be a series of trial and error before process can be fine tuned. It is not like PKR been exercising the “one member, one vote” system for many years now and they are still having the same problems and shortcomings. Something that Syed seems to imply. I still recall when my previous organisation organised a family day for the very first time – it was chaos and left many fuming mad after the event. But over the years, lessons been learned and shortcomings have been rectified and family day events turned out to be the most anticipated event of the year.

Logistic shortcomings is something everyone had anticipated when PKR first announced the “one member, one vote” system. It is not like they had the access to the helicopter to help out on the logistics. It is just too bad PKR was not ready enough to confront much of the shortcomings in the very first year.

Then there is this talk that the “one member, one vote” system will not work in a multi-race party and Syed still implies that the Malays will only vote for the Malays, Chinese for the Chinese and the Indians for the Indians (interesting revelation that there are some Indians masquerading as the “son of the land” in UMNO – that is a good one, bro). That is a typical BN view of seeing things in Malaysia – everything broken down by the color of the skin. I believe PKR is beyond the racial division that BN component parties heavily promote and operate with. It does not work that way in reality too. Malaysia is a multi race society too but do the Malays  only vote for the Malays, Chinese for the Chinese and the Indians for the Indians? The result of the last general election speaks for itself.

No doubt, there are some in PKR will continue to take the racial division when it comes to voting a person to key posts but at the end of the day, what PKR need to do is vote for strong, capable leaders. If such strong, capable leader is Malay, I don’t see why the Chinese and the Indian members would not vote for him and vice versa. This is a party election and whatever that makes the party stronger and resilient and be ready for the general election – that would be the right way to go.

Now that Zaid Ibrahim has released the press release of the mess in the election process, it has created some uncertainty. Will PKR ignore it as being something that has been anticipated and continue to complete the election process (which is the right to do)? Or as Syed predicts, Anwar steps in and calls off the election all together? But if that happens, PKR’s credibility to conduct its business will be in serious jeopardy. It also means PKR will not able to survive without Anwar still holding its hands. And I don’t think PKR or Anwar for the matter wants it so at this point.

Read Also

What’s PKR’s Elections All About?

Hulu Selangor Poser 4

With no new ideas, it has now turned into a “battle of the bottles”, so some quarters say.

Malaysiakini reports:-

Former Selangor Umno liaison chief Dr Mohd Khir Toyo believes that the repeated attacks on PKR Hulu Selangor by-election candidate Zaid Ibrahim’s past as a drinker was a good campaign strategy.

The move to highlight Zaid’s admission that he used to consumed alcohol in his younger days was a way to discourage PAS’ grassroots from supporting the former minister, said Khir.

If that is true, perhaps Khir can comment on this:-

(No word on the street that Kamalanathan also drinks but Indians are known to take alcohol like water. Image source: http://scottthong.wordpress.com)

Interestingly the above evidence did not come as an “issue” during the last general election (in fact, there was pin drop silence from people like Khir on this). Is it because when it comes to BN, past is past, bygones are bygones and not for others?

Even if we accept that Zaid used to be a drinker, does it really matters?

RPK said this in Malaysia Today:-

Zaid, in turn, is being whacked for his alleged ‘drinking habit’. Okay, let us say he does. So he drinks. So what?

Does he buy his drinks using the taxpayers’ money? Does he rob the rakyat to support his drinking habit? Is his liquor being bought using our money? Or does he indulge with his own money and not the money he stole from us?

So you see, even if he does drink, and I am not saying he does, does he hurt any of us or only himself?

Compare that with this news:-

Bakti members comprising wives of ministers and deputy ministers, who were travelling home via Europe, had to reschedule their return as most airports in the continent remained closed due to lingering volcanic ash from Iceland.

The group, which arrived here on Thursday after visiting a children’s handicap centre and a youth high-risk centre in Washington last week

(Source: TheStar)

Surely there are not “drinkers” in the eyes of BN but how much of tax payers’ money went into their travel expenses, accommodations, shopping and “sounds important to justify the trip but it is not” visits to handicap and youth centres crap.

What is the need for the Bakti members to be travelling to US and returning via Europe (cough for “shopping”?) when they do similar “welfare” work right here in Malaysia?

And some people say corruption is at a manageable level in Malaysia. I rest my case – Zaid can have all the drinks he wants (not that he wants it) but he will come out cleaner than some of the people claiming to be better.