MARCH 6 — Do you struggle for motivation?
Perhaps with a diet, thesis writing, project management or even rainy days and Mondays.
Then I have to tell you, don’t bother asking Pakatan Harapan senior leaders to raise your spirits, they suck at it. More appropriately, they’ve adopted a fatalistic tragicomedy script of a teenager fearing the worst from everything.
Yes, this is about Semenyih, and the next by-election.
Am I a fine one to talk about this?
Of course I’ve poured scorn on Pakatan. When they copy Barisan Nasional to ridiculous degrees. Witness Bersatu Pribumi’s undignified backdoor negotiations to increase its MP count through defections, and unrelenting commitment to racism. Observe a very average ex-prime minister bully them on social media.
How not to cringe?
But despite the criticisms — mine most certainly — the coalition might want to jog its memory, for it is still in power. On top. The boss. Godfather. Catch the drift?
Power breeds power, and those who refuse to consolidate power when they possess it risk losing it.
While there is the valid argument about the erosion of democracy when governments overexert, what argument to refer when the government’s petrified of its out of power nemesis?
Three things, not mentioned enough.
Minor victory, massive celebrations
Barisan Nasional has won every election in Semenyih since it was a seat, except last year. It’s next to my Dusun Tua. Both seats, together with urban Kajang (which alternates) form Hulu Langat parliamentary seat.
This has been Umno zone ever since. The late Zainal Abidin Ahmad was ADUN for decades in Dusun Tua — which mirrors Semenyih (Beranang), also an Umno stronghold.
The historical frame helps with context.
Further, opposition parties expect bump-ups in by-elections. Umno is the opposition.
Despite these, Umno’s win is only by 5 per cent (1,914 vote margin). If half plus one, 958 of them changed their minds in the polling booth, Pakatan would be dancing on the table instead.
It’s not an inconsequential figure, however it’s certainly not an impossible target.
If Pakatan reconciles with Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s activism (847 votes), or recognises independent candidate Uncle Kentang’s (725 votes) communitarianism, both inclined to the federal government and not Umno, the seat will have a different vibe when GE15 comes around.
The Malay heartland is not on fire
Don’t push the panic button, Pakatan!
If Malaysians lack faith in the vision of a more egalitarian society as evidenced by the defeat, it’s not the cue to abandon ship. Rather it means, dial it up. No, Azmin Ali?
The economy minister senses it’s a call to regress to communalism, which is wrong. He’s dancing to Umno’s pied piper.
There is danger in repeating Umno’s narrative.
Bersatu Pribumi may fail to denounce Umno’s ways since they are cut from the same cloth but Azmin can draw from his party’s conviction in economic support for the weak and partnership with the rich — without compromising the poor — to grow the economy for all regardless of race. You know, Ketuanan Rakyat.
The three partners to the prime minister’s Bersatu Pribumi have to assist the hamstrung party to the centre, not the right.
The right is where Umno gets buried.
Malaysians appreciate the effort to shepherd the economy even if they can’t appreciate the nuances of the role, however they desire comprehension because it’s their future the government holds in its hands.
Pakatan must explain better and without bitterness. Not everything has to be about Umno or Najib Razak.
Umno fear-mongers all development, and relies on exaggerations. Pakatan has to calm down the people’s anxiety by addressing the human frailties caused by uncertainties, rather than rattle facts to rebut Umno. It has to learn to reassure the people, not battle its opponent ceaselessly.
And most certainly, changing course with every debacle is a sign of weakness, not strength.
Mobilise your masses
A year ago, Pakatan won in the face of Umno’s machinery.
There are millions who believe in the medium term the country is better under Pakatan.
The coalition members’ shortcomings keep these supporters at arm’s length from active party membership. But still, they root for Pakatan to stave off Umno.
They were the foot soldiers who found the votes to help Pakatan cross the line in 2018.
And yes, many are liberals.
But in the past year, they’ve been ignored. They don’t ask for contracts or jobs.
Pakatan instead felt it is imperative to court the naysayers, even at the expense of supporters.
The ludicrous stratagem to court those who failed to vote Pakatan, over those who did vote for them, and in particular those who campaigned for them, has to stop.
This is not about race strictly, it’s about segments even if they are race-laced.
For example, there are Umno-PAS loyalists who’d sink at sea with their horrible bosses than face the truth. Nothing changes them.
Thereafter, streams of fence-sitters, most jaded by all political parties. The Semenyih reversal, and low turn-outs in the previous three Selangor elections, can as easily point to voter fatigue.
The best people to reach out to fence-sitters are from the informal networks of Pakatan supporters, made of all kinds of Malaysians.
Since May 2018, they’ve been ignored by this government.
It’s as if Pakatan regrets their support and work over the years, despite them wilfully supporting the Pakatan losers and arguing out loud with relatives and friends who just wanted the stability of BN.
In victory, Pakatan appears bent on winning over its opponents and not celebrate its supporters.
This must change.
In politics, one must not forget friends.
How to reconnect?
With an apology. After that, tell them you need them badly. Tell them how it was easy to live through defeats with their support, and now in victory this Pakatan in power remains thankful to them.
Then see them campaign and move the votes.
The fear of fear
It’s time Pakatan, not to suck.
Umno after its fear-mongering has nothing in the tank. The leaders know it, which is why those who left, left. The supporters, their supporters however will remain in debt for a bit longer. But that won’t last.
The real battle is about balance and confidence, if Pakatan can provide it to the people of Malaysia.
It is to the people Pakatan must prove itself, not to its opponent, who is permanently unimpressed.
Accept the slip, refuse to panic and remember your friends again.
The turnaround speed may surprise all.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.