Side Views

Twilight — Hishamuddin Yahaya

February 17, 2013

FEB 17 — In unusually swaggering speech, the DPM lambasted PKR leaders for suing the newspapers because that, according to him, was against the party’s policy on press freedom. The occasion was the officiating of the yearly general assemblies in Kuala Lumpur of Umno Youth and the Putri’s Wings. 

Being a man of his position — no less than the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia — and yet unable to understand what press freedom means is all the more appalling. Or maybe, he was stressed by a formidable pre-election campaign that fatigue betrayed his intelligence and therefore he was unable to see the wood for the trees. 

If press freedom means (as the DPM understands it) the freedom to report or write on anything and to cast aspersions on others and to extinguish an individual’s rights to protect his or her honour and integrity, then by the same token, a right to assemble will extinguish all individual rights to the protection of person and property, and the demonstrators can just trample and destroy properties as they march along. 

That’s anarchy in full bloom

The potential future PM (God forbid) went a step further criticising the PR for not walking the talk and failing to fulfil promises made during the last election campaign. He blinded the audience to the fact that PR has not yet taken over Putrajaya. But that seems not to matter. What matters was to criticise as much as possible to the applause of a psychogenetic audience. That’s the order of the day and with it the media frenzy. 

Inspired by his deputy’s contrived speech, the next day the PM took Umno on a warpath. Slandering and swiping the PR leaders as power crazy bigots, whose coming to power will only create chaos and instability in the country and even worse, relegate Malay supremacy, he jolted the Youth, Wanita and Putri Wings to spontaneously respond for total election war this time. 

The speeches and the mood were telling signs and provided insight into the psyche of Umno and BN leaders that they are indeed facing the most difficult general election this time. Factors haunting them are many. Sabah and Sarawak are no more “fixed deposits”. Internal dissensions in Umno between young and “winnable” candidates of Najib’s choice and the stalwarts who refuse to give way are major obstacles causing party elections to be postponed. 

Change is in the air 

The surge of young voters who want a political change and new dynamics at campaigns is a major headache for the BN. Umno and BN’s doddering candidates are no match for the young and able candidates offered by the PR. 

The plundering of wealth by sons and daughters of BN leaders, the unmotivated murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, and the allegedly close trade connections between the BN government and the Zionist State have left the BN very vulnerable. The controversial purchase of the “sophisticated” submarines — unable to submerge at one time — and the alleged fat commission paid for the purchase are all lethal political weapons for the PR to expose the BN — for which it has no plausible explanation. These and many others are extra baggage for Umno/BN to haul (which at the moment they lack the capacity to do so), rendering them rather defenceless. 

It cannot be denied that months of campaigning have revealed Anwar Ibrahim as having political clout far exceeding that of Umno/BN. Intellectually Anwar is above all of the Umno leaders put together. Anwar only expounds party policies and seldom criticises but when he does, he attacks very effectively and exposes their weakness, their corruption, their abuse, their cronyism — that often leaves Umno/BN leaders dumbfounded and helpless. 

Umno/BN’s campaign on the other hand is lacklustre and colourless. Instead of disclosing any meaningful and structural reforms (they haven’t any) to the public, they choose to slander and defame, believing that it will work on the voters. Appearing affable by attending all functions, big or small, is another of their antics. They seem not to have any durable policy that can withstand public debate — and make up for this by resorting to sentiments and veiled threats to shore up support, which of course appeals only to the extremists. It is like a drowning man clutching at a floating straw to save his life. 

Many see Umno/BN’s campaign as intellectually uninspiring and lacking in strategy. These people also believe that the 13th General Election can only be won by the BN if there are enough phantom voters to vote for them. But Bersih will not let that happen. Change is in the air. — aliran.com

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.