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Illusion versus reality

  • Last weekend's rally should serve as a timely wake-up call for Pakatan Harapan that they cannot afford to keep living in their illusion.

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

The lackluster response to Pakatan Harapan's anti-kleptocracy rally last weekend should serve as a fine political barometer for today's Malaysia.

1. The climax will not last forever. There is a time when the heat will subside.

The climax before and soon after GE13 was an outburst of energies accumulated over the time.

Like Mount Agung on Bali island that is showing signs of eruption owing to the pressure build-up as subterranean temperature picks up.

However, after the heated gases find an outlet to escape, gradually cooling the earth's crust, the billowing smoke atop Mount Agung will dissipate and the crisis of an imminent eruption will tail off.

Politically, after several large rallies for the public to vent their frustration, coupled with the failure to materialize the purposes of these rallies, any emotional build-up will get instantly deflated.

As the volcano cools off, more so will the human hearts.

2. Never count on the constant lapses of rivals.

From Bersih to anti-kleptocracy rallies, they all had 1MDB as the main topic of contention. For all these years, those on the stage have been talking about the same old things while their audiences have grown from being supercharged to lukewarm to downright unmoved.

Pakatan's leaders have obviously overlooked the rule of thumb for political campaigns: you cannot keep counting on your rivals to make mistakes, but must do the right things yourself to earn respect.

People will gradually forget the rivals' mistakes over time, but your own incompetency will always fall inside their field of vision.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is well versed with this golden rule. While he is aware of his sliding approval rate thanks to the scandals, he also knows his infighting-plagued rivals are incompetent in running the country.

Abe is overflowing with confidence because he knows when the time comes for the voters to make their decisions, they would rather pick a scandal-hit leader than one who can't do anything. So he called an early election.

If Pakatan can't come up with its own policies and a set of governing philosophies to convince the public of its ability to rule, it should not expect too much from the voters!

3. The "anti-kleptocracy" slogan indeed makes a great subject for thesis writing, but where political mobilization is concerned, it is way too profound and remote for the people in the street.

But that is not the lethal weapon.

What really killed the rally was the utter embarrassment when former Umno leaders like Mahathir and Muhyiddin were standing on the stage getting the attendants to fight kleptocracy.

Perhaps this also explains the weak participation of DAP, PKR and Bersih supporters.

4. Unlike the previous rallies where Chinese made up the majority of participants, about 70% to 80% attending last week's rally were Malays.

The Chinese were decisively leaning towards the opposition during the last few rallies and general elections but their enthusiasm has since died off due to futility of their efforts. Such drastic setback has instilled a sense of political helplessness among Chinese Malaysians.

Many of them have begun to understand that as a minority, there is no way they can dictate this country's political directions.

Of course, this should not be interpreted as they are now turning towards BN. What I'm trying to say is that the GE13 climax has eventually plateaued and will never go up further or be sustained. The passion will only move downhill!

The Malays made up the bulk of participants this time, but their absolute number was nothing to brag about when compared to the 100,000 people turning up at PAS' recent rally in Terengganu.

Most rally-goers were not too young, either. Young people would rather join the national sports day as they begin to look to quality of life more than political needs, and Pakatan has been slow in responding to such a shift in the needs of our young people.

In short, to create a 100,000-strong rally to advance into Putrajaya could only be an illusion, and the cruel reality is that Pakatan's weaknesses have been exposed prematurely to its rivals.

The strategic blunder could be blamed on Pakatan's detachment from the needs of the masses.

Of course, the bright side of this whole thing is that early detection of own problems does provide the opportunity to make amends and fine tune the off-course strategies.

The worst thing is the continued belief in illusion and the argument that the voters have made up their minds despite the pathetic rally turnout.

It could be too late if the voters have really made up their minds, but not in their favor.

 

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