Major Defeat For Barisan Nasional’s War For The Hearts And Minds of Malaysians
By Matthias Chang
Barisan Nasional’s War of Intimidation has backfired. Malaysians no longer fear the sight of armed security forces, the threat of racial riots and or the Communist bogey. Pictures of the peaceful determination and resolve of the Bersih demonstrators say it all. Objective Malaysians (the silent majority) cannot but be impressed with the maturity and faith of those who were willing to face arrest and police intimidation to uphold their principles. Yes, Malaysia is not Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen etc. but there is a common thread – the people’s frustrations (real or otherwise) and the need for expressing their discontent cannot be suppressed. The arrogance of power is no match for grass-root activism.
It is indeed ironic that the “1Malaysia” slogan of the Prime Minister (a united multi- racial Malaysia) was reflected more in the ranks of the Bersih 2.0 campaign on 9th July 2011 than in the ranks of political opportunist and upstart Khairy Jamaluddin’s miniscule band of “Red Shirts” provocateurs. Perkasa as predicted had no mass following and was totally absent in spite of its provocative bravado.
I have been informed that some of the Prime Minister’s close advisers on strategy are so-called experts on “Blue Ocean Strategy”, the essence of which is to “make the competition irrelevant and creating uncontested market place”.
After the fiasco today, 9th July 2011, may I suggest to the Prime Minister and the entire Barisan Nasional leadership that their first priority is to dump these political wannabes who are totally devoid of any knowledge and experience of the political realities on the ground.
The “political competition” of the Opposition has become more relevant than ever and has captured and occupied more effectively – physically and mentally both the uncontested and contested “political market place”. The BN government has spent RM billions, but has yet to show concrete results “on the ground, at the grass- roots level”. If these assholes cannot even handle a simple issue of a public demonstration, and the Prime Minister and the entire BN leadership still insist on relying on this bunch of immature political wannabes, then there is but one conclusion – Barisan Nasional will suffer a major setback in the coming General Election. And if the election is held this year, I am willing to put my reputation on the line as a former political secretary to the fourth Prime Minister, that Barisan Nasional will never be able to reclaim the 2/3rd majority in Parliament as well as the four state governments controlled by the Opposition coalition. The Prime Minister will be ousted within six months from date of the election.
All these so-called advisers and political pundits can do a better service to the nation if they just spend 24/7 for an entire month, watching the Chinese historical epic “The Three Kingdoms” on sale in any DVD shop in Malaysia. They may just be able to learn some basic lessons on Political Strategy 101.
My second advice to the Prime Minister is to send his cousin, the Home Minister to be psycho-analysed for “Enlarged Ego Syndrome” (EES) and to revamp the entire senior management of the national security apparatus of the Polis Diraja Malaysia (the Royal Malaysian Police Force).
My third advice to the Prime Minister is to place in cold storage, the irrelevant UMNO Youth leader. If you do that, you would have – to a certain extent – applied the Blue Ocean Strategy. Your biggest problem and challenge is internal, within the ranks of your party – UMNO political warlords, not the Opposition parties. These UMNO leaders are intellectually bankrupt and politically outdated.
What lessons can we draw from today’s event? To draw any conclusions and learn from the experience, we have to address the following questions:
Firstly, why did the so-called Blue Ocean Strategy experts fail to anticipate a repeat of Bersih 2007 and take pre-emptive measures?
Secondly, why did the national security apparatus fail to anticipate Bersih 2.0? When were the Prime Minister and the cabinet briefed on the Bersih 2.0 demonstration?
Thirdly, why did the Barisan Nasional government allow the Perkasa provocateurs to hijack the stage to mount their ill-conceived fascist-like reaction to Bersih, followed by the immature UMNO Youth’s belated bravado?
Fourthly, why did the Prime Minister, after agreeing to allow Bersih to congregate in a stadium, not follow through with that magnanimous decision by directing the police to grant the relevant permits, but flip-flopped and allowed the security apparatus to take complete charge?
Fifthly, what made the Barisan Nasional propaganda machinery think that by locking down the entire city since Friday evening, there will be a blowback – anger and opposition by the grass-roots – against the organisers of the Bersih 2.0 demonstration, and not against Barisan Nasional for their high-handed action?
Sixthly, was there any evaluation that by taking the sledge-hammer approach to Bersih 2.0 demonstration for “fair and clean elections”, the Barisan Nasional government will be able to retain its supporters and gain new adherents or on the contrary piss off its very own supporters and alienate further the 40% undecided voters?
Finally, what were the identified strategic objectives to be gained by adopting the sledge-hammer approach and how would they enhance the results in favour of the Barisan Nasional government in the coming General Election?
I am curious to know from the Blue Ocean Strategists, the Political Secretaries, the Special Officers and the highly paid consultants what Strategic Briefs/Memoranda that they have submitted to the Prime Minister and the Barisan Nasional leadership.
The rakyat has the right to know as well. It is arrogance, height of irresponsibility and a dereliction of duty if no detail briefs were prepared and submitted for consideration.
It is my estimation that it will take ten months at the minimum to repair the damage done to the image of the Barisan Nasional in general and the prime minister in particular, provided there is a coherent strategy to address and resolve the issues that are close to the hearts and minds of the grass-roots and the sophisticated urban middle-class voters (young and old).
The administrative machinery is a giant bureaucracy – a super oil tanker. From top down, over 95 percent of the manpower is project-orientated, in plain BN language, money-orientated – “what’s in it for me” mentality. Everyone is eyeing the multi- billion dollar cake, the multi-billion dollar patronage gravy train.
But all that is required is going back to basics.