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Of re-branding the ruling coalition and bad mouthing

March 6, 2014

Just arrived in JB from KL. Everything feels OK as always. Not that there’s any value in that information. Just a way to start an entry. This entry has a strong political flavour to it, which is out of the ordinary for me. Certainly one of my rare politics-laced entries.

Yesterday I attended a function at a friend’s place. There I saw a person who has a rather big name in the entertainment industry. He attended the function as he lives within the same housing area and is acquainted with my friend. He then met an elderly lady who introduced herself as a member of Malaysia’s main Malay political party. They then chatted (and I eavesdropped). This personality told the lady that he is currently in active participation with the Ministry in charge of communication which main effort is apparently, re-branding the ruling coalition. They believe that the younger generation doesn’t really relate to the coalition anymore and that it is presented in less than favourable light to the masses.

It follows that efforts are underway to present the coalition as a party which cares deeply for the citizens and has their interest in mind. I also heard rants on how the younger generation were not concerned with politics and how it could have an adverse effect on them. Politics is not to be neglected at all costs. Always be wary of the threat presented by other races who are all out to rule Malaysia and make the Malays as slaves.OK, so that was that. Now, are all these statements true (especially that last one)? I don’t have the answer to that and I don’t think I ever will. It was just something I heard at a seemingly harmless kenduri.

That having said, I have some observations to make with respect to the matter. Firstly, I think the media has been used as a tool by the ruling coalition to publicise and further their agenda from time immemorial. Nothing wrong with that. I think whoever rules the country will do the same thing. You have the government media stations at your disposal, the minister in charge of the same stations is a part of your organisation. All the ingredients are there. So why not prosper at the obvious? Back to the conversation I heard, how do you exactly re-brand the ruling coalition? An idea would be to stop bad mouthing the other side of the divide. Just highlight your good deeds like the handing of cash incentives, the various programs you undertake for the general good, any economic stimulus programs, things like that.

Over the years, too much bad mouthing has taken place. This guy is up to no good, that guy has this scandal. The plethora of things people could think of is unlimited. But even if you bad mouth anyone the opposite will take place online, which would negate your efforts anyway. The access to online content nowadays is just incredible. By computer, smart phones, tablets, the whole lot.

I think it has always been about reaching out to people outside the internet reach. People who are in rural areas. Maybe they will still buy the bad mouthing without so much as a whimper. I would disagree with that mentality. I remember working for the ruling coalition during one of the general elections many years ago. The “free vote from the rural population” notion was debunked way back then. Someone told me that old folks would usually vote for whoever the children voted for. Why you ask? The children have all become urbanites and know the true pulse of politics (apparently). The most important factor is that the children support their parents financially. So parents are in a sense indebted to the children and will follow the voting patterns. I’m sure there’s some truth to it. Disturbingly or not, most urbanites vote for the opposition. Voting patterns for the last two elections at least bear testimony to this fact. To a certain extent, the swing has influenced the rural trend as well.

That doesn’t include rural areas with internet access. People believe what they want to believe. People are inclined to believe issues which are presented in a sensational way. If not, why would people be interested in show business gossip? It is presented in such a way. Stories about people being unfaithful, someone paying an arm and a leg for a New York penthouse etc. This would attract maximum attention. If the ruling coalition does it, it would be held as a personal attack. Although both parties do it.

One more point. Apart from the above, I think they have missed the point. It doesn’t really matter how much re-branding is done. There are other deep lying issues which need to be addressed. I’d like to share my Facebook posting on 6 December last year:

Vicious cycle – I’m a leader in a certain political party – I need to cling to power as long as I can – I have to keep my supporters happy – I need to sidestep official procedures (and breed corruption) – governance and slogans go down the drain – I try to keep the others happy by giving handouts but I fail – I question why my political party loses support.

Everyone (at least I think everyone) knows that the above statement is true. That is just how a leader stays in power. There are exceptions I believe, but that is the general rule. All leaders need support. Supporters stay supportive as long as their needs are fulfilled. These days the needs are inevitably monetary in nature. So doling out contracts would seem as the easiest and most logical choice. Yes, the ruling coalition has the obligation to ensure that there is a fair distribution of national wealth but that does not mean concentrating said distribution among a select few and worse still, certain leaders. The objective of entering politics has been to accumulate wealth and riches. Not to mention the percentage of contract amounts demanded by people in the corridors of power from successful tenderers of projects. Such wastage has to be eradicated.

You don’t want the opposition to wrest power from you? Eliminate all the above and they most probably never will.

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