We have to talk about Najib (10 reasons for polls delay)
|Praba Ganesan is Parti Keadilan Rakyat's Social Media Strategist. He wants to engage with you, and learn from your viewpoints. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @prabaganesan|
AUG 9 — Yes, it is that time.
Since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak never tells what bothers him, we have to take matters into our own hands. We have to talk about Najib, clearly he is befuddled by a fairly complex electorate undecided on him as a brand and then as prime minister.
So many have asked, what is holding back Najib, so I listed some reasons what I believe are keeping him from dissolving Parliament and calling Malaysians to pass judgment on 57 years of Barisan Nasional (BN) rule — since the Alliance (BN’s precursor) win in 1955.
1. Anwar Ibrahim
Whichever way he looks at it, the spectre of Anwar looms large, casting a shadow over his whole administration. Najib used to take instructions from Anwar during his Umno Youth days, through to him competing for a vice-president post only when the ex-finance minister vacated the spot to challenge for the deputy presidency in 1993.
Najib wants to go into an election preferably when Anwar is tottering not when he is in the midst of pulling the strings with various developments, primarily in Borneo.
Najib wouldn’t be faulted to assume that he is prime minister today because Anwar was sacked, which led to a chain of events resulting in his rise to the top.
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became prime minister because Dr Mahathir Mohamad picked him to replace Anwar. Abdullah lost the top post because Anwar’s united opposition coalition made unprecedented gains in 2008.
2. The Chinese have left the building
The worst thing for the Najib camp has not actually been losing a substantial number of ethnic Chinese votes since 2008, but the continued drone from all Barisan Nasional leaders conceding over and over that the Chinese vote have deserted them.
They have institutionalised the position.
The analysis of the BN punters has been that as long as the Indian vote is split enough, then the Malay swing compounded by gerrymandering will give enough seats in the peninsula to convince all the Borneo component party leaders to remain with BN.
Because of the fractious relationship between Umno and the MCA — let’s use each other but with all the suspicion possible — the former’s operatives have little restraint in repeating the Chinese have bolted.
This is adding to the discussion that the MCA and Gerakan are relying on ethnic Malay votes to win seats.
Najib therefore is haunted by the loss of the Chinese votes, made worse by lieutenants widely playing down the Chinese vote.
3. The Internet, humbug....
Post-GE2008, all the “brains” at PWTC were annoyed that the online battle had only one player, the Pakatan Rakyat groups.
BN lost the Internet space battle by not being in it, so they decided to change focus.
While there are umpteen number of BN blogs, websites, social media activities and many more being planned, the Internet has been unwieldy.
Despite BN having money and personnel — cyber-troopers — they tragically do not have appeal.
BN’s social media rides on the resource pumped in, very little is generated in the way of community involvement.
If there is a large gathering for Najib for his Facebook friends, it is because the prime minister’s office worked the invites and paid for the luncheon.
If people had to pay to have lunch with Najib then the turnout would be far more different.
His people don’t get it, they are just adamant that money will fix it. Therefore their results are limited and their reach appalling considering the money spent.
Consider the uproar over the National Day song “Janji Ditepati”. As of 3am today, 371,505 people viewed the song on YouTube; an encouraging number of views. Unfortunately for the songwriters, 35,720 or almost 10 per cent dislike the song. And a paltry 608 or 0.16 per cent liked it — there is only that many times your cyber-dudes can “Like” the same item.
Yes, the Internet is not fun for BN.
4. Borneo subterfuge
Every visit by Pakatan Rakyat leaders to Sabah or Sarawak causes heartburn for Umno leaders.
The talk is swirling that even Sarawak is up for discussion.
The two MPs — Lajim Ukin and Wilfred Bumburing — departing from the BN stable in Sabah has upped the ante and initiated a new round of speculations.
Unless Najib has some way of grasping a semblance of control over Borneo in the coming weeks, the election date will keep sliding away.
5. BR1M 2 — because two is more than one
The verdict on BR1M — the campaign to put RM500 once-off in the pocket of each poor household last March 2012 — is unimpressive. Many, many people were happy to receive the monies and they truly were, but the recipients were largely glad but did not feel indebted to the government.
The dynamics of what is expected from a gift has shifted dramatically in the last decade.
However, since the cornerstone of BN politics is patronage, they cannot help but spend to win voters. Which is why the “promise” of another BR1M 2 is being dangled over the population.
They’ve announced BR1M 2 in roundabout ways, and they know that it would take very little to shake up their support base. A BR1M 2 is imminent before the general election.
6. Muhyiddin Yassin
Muhyiddin couching himself as an unapologetic Malay champion allows him to be broadly popular inside Umno, even if that sentiment is not shared by other component party leaders.
But as any BN man would swear, the Umno president is prime minister. That’s non-negotiable, so the means to become Umno president by being populist has always worked.
The posturing of Muhyiddin must keep Najib worried.
A poor general election result will immediately propel Muhyiddin to top leadership.
7. Budget 2013
The window between National Day and the Budget announcement on September 28 is too short, but more pertinent the chance to shape how government spending in 2013 may be too tempting for Najib.
Winning now would give Najib more mandate to shape his spending however he feels, but the safety first nature in him might force him to consider spending more money in the first quarter from a new budget which would lead to an easy electoral victory.
8. Symbolic gaffes
The latest one would be the National Day logo and song. Gone are the days where the rakyat accepted the crudest and weirdest logos irrespective.
The ability of Malaysians to milk the situation has the public image consultants in knots, because the politicians they defend are equally indifferent on backing down gracefully.
The symbols are intended as launching pads to capture the imagination of the rakyat. But when the symbols themselves become contentious, then any traction is lost.
9. Waiting is not losing
Our Pekan MP has bided his time all the time. He says so as much in his comic books that all these stepping stones were planned out without rocking the boat.
Najib realises he is prime minister until there is a general election, therefore there are perks in waiting.
Therefore a no contest for now is not a step backwards, however it is not a step leading to loss.
He would rather wait, it appears
10. Implode please, Pakatan
The history of any coalition to oust the Barisan Nasional has been littered with break-ups.
The issues are usually forced upon the DAP and PAS. Hudud has always been a deal breaker, and in the instance of the DAP, there are constant fears put out of Malay states falling under Chinese rule. Or perhaps frustration that PAS’s slow rejection of Umno’s overtures of Malay unity might annoy others.
The spats always get out of hand as the mainstream media plays out the most minute and inane differences.
Najib is probably hoping for an early Christmas, that something major happens and then he gets a free pass at the next polls.
How likely is Najib’s wish? Perhaps not, since this is the longest time the DAP and PAS have worked together with a major deterioration of ties.
What do Malaysians do then now?
We wait. By every day of waiting to call polls, Najib risks losing as much gaining ground.
Still, Najib can’t make up his mind.
Or we can spend the time considering this: will voting in BN back to power lead to another lengthy period of political uncertainty?
I’m partisan, so you can ignore me and answer as you wish. But I’m pretty sure you’d come to a deliberate decision far sooner than Najib.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.