One of the main reasons BN regime (Barisan Nasional or National Front), led by PM Najib Razak, fails to perform better in the May 5th 2013 general election was because it lost in the cyber psychological warfare. Actually opposition PR (Pakatan Rakyat or People’s Alliance) didn’t do anything extraordinary to win the heart of the young urban voters. Instead, it was BN that screwed up by scoring its own goal, and in the process gave away additional 7 parliamentary and a whopping 32 state seats to the opposition. Basically, what BN did over the past 5 years since the 2008’s 12th general election was to scream and broadcast 1Malaysia propaganda almost 24 hours a day.
Back in 2007, Khairy Jamaluddin, then PM Abdullah Badawi’s son-in-law, insulted netizens as “monkeys” and called for tougher punishments against bloggers. If that was not bad enough, Information Minister Zainuddin, a cabinet member who had difficulties differentiating between “election” and “erection”, called bloggers as nothing less than “Goblok” (Indonesian slang for “stupid”). And who can forget Nazri, the controversial minister who threaten bloggers with ISA and had fun in Parliament shouting “You have no brains – Stupid, Stupid, Stupid …” at DAP MP Lim Kit Siang, insulting wheelchair-bound DAP MP Karpal Singh because he couldn’t stand, yelling “racist … bloody racist” at DAP MP Kulasegaran 41 times and whatnot prior.
2007 was also the year where tens of thousands took to the street under Bersih Rally. The rally was an instant success, with subsequent version 2 and 3, primarily due to publicity generated through online blogs. Like it or not, netizens were being forced to embrace the alternative online media simply because the BN regime uses their controlled mainstream media for self-praise while attacking opposition. Najib administration could have win over huge urbanites support should his propaganda print and electronic media gave a more balance coverage. Urbanites flock to the internet for alternative (read: opposition) updates simply because BN’s self-praise effort was excessive thus overkill, so much so that it was so fake and insincere.
After 2008’s 12th general election, BN recognizes the influence of online media. Millions of dollars were spent in recruiting cyber troopers to fight the cyber war dominated by the opposition. Unfortunately, besides spamming hates, sex and racist comments in every blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and whatnot’s corner, these UMNO mercenaries could hardly deliver any intelligent substance to help counter corrupt and mismanagement allegations. It was a losing cyber war that UMNO fails (or rather refuse) to understand. It was like deploying former Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin to argue a court case against the “Lion of Jelutong” Karpal Singh.
Post 2013’s 13th general election, it seems Najib administration still does not understand the cyber psychological warfare which they lost dearly. BN’s stone-age mentality will not help them much in the next 14th general election. Their dominance in the traditional mainstream media alone will not help them to capture Selangor or Penang. It was UMNO’s own suppression and oppression which make Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and Nik Aziz relevant. UMNO’s suppression and oppression were like fuels that Anwar needs badly to keep his machines moving. That was why Anwar’s first priority after failing to march to Putrajaya was to organize nationwide rallies.
Rally is Anwar’s only option to keep his supporters alive, without which PR is as good as dead come next general election. Of course PR knew they have lost the 13th general election due to gerrymandering and “first past the post” voting system. They smartly use 51% popular votes which they won as the silver bullet to convince their supporters that they’ve actually win the election. What else do you think they can use to justify their rallies? But people will get bored and tired of excessive rallies. They can’t possibly attend rally every month, can they? That was why Anwar and his team didn’t hold back in urging (or rather provoking) people to get ready for street demonstrations.
Sadly, UMNO walks into the trap set by Anwar. UMNO with its new sheriff in town, Home Minister Zahid Hamidi, is actually doing more harm than good by showing his newly found muscle in cracking down opposition leaders. It seems PM Najib has appointed a worse person to replace his cousin Hishammuddin Hussein for the job. By telling people who does not like the present (unfair) electoral system to migrate elsewhere shows Zahid Hamidi’s arrogance and “goblokness”. Now, by arresting and re-arresting opposition leaders, Zahid Hamidi is giving new life and justification for opposition to call more people to take to the street. What was illegitimate has now become legitimate, literally speaking. The crackdowns anger the average Joes and Janes.
Many PR supporters who initially despise street demonstration may now see it as a responsibility to do so because of such brutal crackdown. No wonder Mahathir’s worst enemy is none other than his former protégé Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar is a master in toying with peoples’ sentiment. If a clever person like Mahathir couldn’t even contain Anwar, did goblok Zahid Hamidi think he can checkmate opposition Anwar Ibrahim by using similar expired intimidation tactic? Perhaps Zahid thought he could show off his intelligence by arresting all 89 opposition MPs and throw them into jail thus forcing by-elections in all the 89 parliamentary seats (*grin*).
An “Operasi Lalang 2013” will not work the same way “Operasi Lalang 1987” did, if that was what Najib administration plans to do next. Unlike 1987 where mobile phone was like a sci-fi Star Trek toy, 2013 is the smartphone era where your photo would be uploaded and shared by millions worldwide instantly if you’re caught bonking David Beckham’s wife. The best thing to do is to lay low, just like what deputy PM Muhyiddin is doing now. Ever wonder why Muhyiddin refrains himself from cursing the Chinese for BN’s less than spectacular win? That’s because Muhyiddin knows he needs the Chinese votebank in case the Malay swing the other way in the future.
Now that PM Najib and de-facto PM Mahathir have burnt the bridge on the Chinese voters, they can only rely on rural Malay votes, and that’s a foolish strategy. For Mahathir to spew anti-Chinese venom is understandable but for PM Najib to parrot the former is absolutely flabbergasted. What if global recession or depression happens in another five years and the palm oil prices tumble? Will PM Najib pacify the rural Felda strong supporters to the tune of millions or billions in taxpayers money due to income losses, without which this ethnic-Malay voters would throw their support behind the opposition? That’s the price you’ve to pay by playing racial cards.
On the other hand, opposition can expect the urban votebank, especially the Chinese, to remain loyal with it. With the estimated 80% – 90% Chinese votes in its pocket, PR can now pull all its resources concentrating in the rural areas. It’s safe to speculate at this junction that the Chinese will not go anywhere but the opposition. If BN’s free flow of money, food, beers, entertainments, lucky draws and whatnot cannot change the Chinese hearts, nothing will. But the same cannot be said about BN – it has to not only defend it’s rural votebank but to pray there’s no internal nor external factors that could potentially swing its only rural supporters.
In short, opposition PR has a better chance of swinging the rural Malay voters than BN in changing the urban multi-racial voters’ perception. Najib administration has to understand that unlike 1987 where the memory about the political crackdown would disappear over time, a repeat of similar brutality in 2013 will be remembered for a very long time, thanks to online media. While the opposition is growing its cake, Najib administration is shrinking its cake. That’s not a very clever thing to do and clamping down on opposition just after the election is helping Anwar’s justification in questioning Najib administration’s legitimacy.
Home Minister Zahid Hamidi is equivalent to Perkasa Ibrahim Ali and Nazri Aziz combined – arrogant with stupidity blended. If 12th and 13th general elections were the Indian and Chinese tsunamis respectively, will 14th general election be the Malay tsunami? Looking at Najib’s newly formed cabinet members, it seems Anwar would have relatively easy meat come next general election. Anwar’s next plan should go all the way into the rural villages and start his provocation strategy, with some fine tuning and bells and whistles thrown in.
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