save malaysia!

PN’s plan to Hulk its way to power By Praba Ganesan

Publish date: Thu, 08 Jun 2023, 01:01 PM

JUNE 8 — The Perikatan Nasional (PN) campaign strategy for the six state elections is so obvious and derivative that it can be seen from the moon.

Create a siege mentality among Muslims and ride the horse of outrage to the state houses in August. At this rate, three out of the six are within reach for them — which speaks more of Malaysia’s political realities rather than PN’s genius.

Whether the anger is actually hate-in-disguise that is for voters to decide.

By either name, it is not new. It was the basis of PAS and Umno’s objection to Pakatan Harapan’s first administration, quickly stillborn on the back of ICERD, fireman Adib’s death and alleged Chinese overreach. It worked a charm, and under two years the government fell like a house of cards in 2020.

Now, in 2023, similar characters have hit rewind and play. Anger at the government. Anger at the minorities in government. Anger at progress. Anger at anyone who is not them.

The present objectors are so incensed that the current heatwave probably is exacerbated by these PN — PAS in particular — speeches.

Is anger the way forward? Not sure it brings anyone forward but it definitely triumphs in Malaysia’s short history. Some have created a career out of it like two-time prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

What is absent, and unsurprisingly so is the presentation of any workable plan to solve any of the problems faced by voters in the six states, whether PN runs them or not currently.

The anger stratagem relies heavily on the reaction to it as much as the generation of it. Both necessary for it to work. This is often not realised. Pakatan’s reaction or lack of response to PN’s enmity shapes the efficacy of the method. For Pakatan’s sake, the response has to be pitch-perfect.

But be fully warned.

It — anger — can bring success when failure is expected. For PN that is.

Please look back in anger

PAS left Pakatan Rakyat in the most acrimonious manner in 2015. The party splintered and Amanah — characterised as PAS without the hate — was born to recharge the renewed Pakatan Harapan, and act as foil for the original Islamist party.

Umno’s splinter Bersatu joined Pakatan shortly after. As General Election 2018 loomed, it was considered a face-off between a bulked-up Pakatan and Barisan Nasional (BN).

PAS? It was a spent force, according to detractors then.

After all, it had been cannibalised by its stay in Pakatan and now staring at a political abyss and bereft of fresh ideas. Try another way is not in the PAS DNA. When in trouble stick to the basics even more devotedly, is the party mantra.

It hit Pakatan hard, it hit BN hard, and only emphasised its celestial credentials.

So, it went into a general election for the first time solo since 1995. The media painted them as out of touch and on the verge of losing its only stronghold, Kelantan.

Instead, PAS won Kelantan and added Terengganu as a scalp. It outdid its own return in Kedah, compared to 2013 when it contested as part of Pakatan. From nine in 2013 with the Pakatan family, to 15 in 2018 despite isolated.

The voters responded to its anger and it being dismissed by the liberal media. Being angry was never sexier.

Is it as sexy today?


If purely from the general election last year’s results, there is ample evidence that anger works. However, it is over seven months since the general and Pakatan has held on to power — albeit with BN — and therefore in a better place to counter the accusations of Malay-neglect.

Observers ask, even if naïve on the face of it, is there a limit to anger as a campaign method? While anger is easy and potent, perhaps it is at risk of reaching saturation point. Will admiration turn to disdain when overloaded with complaints, at times grave accusations? When what started as justified outrage begins to sound like whingeing?

Is there peak angry?

The election outcomes at Penang mainland’s north and Selangor’s rice bowl regions in the northwest will tell plenty about whether peak angry has been reached or that rhetoric has the power of magic — to thrive despite data.

Immortality, Mr Banner

PN is excited by TikTok and how it spreads its angst. It does it supremely well, however, those involved should be forewarned the Internet keeps things for posterity. Even if it garners support today, it remains there for the future to watch.

Will these outbursts, these attacks on minorities and accusations galore, age well?

The ultimate symbol of anger as a solution is the superhero Hulk. A mild-mannered professor Dr David Banner who turns into an absolute terror when angered enough.

How the Hulk is analogous to the Malaysian situation is up in the air. Whether PN feeds the anger to the Banners of Malaysia or that when PN gets angry enough it becomes a force of nature ready to overwhelm all nemeses or a lesson that anger itself while potent harms, is up to both voters and PN to decipher.

The trap of middle-stage democracies is that anger permeates and powers factions, and ever so often threaten to set the nation back a few decades. For Malaysia’s sake, for it to cross its present threshold to a mature democracy, anger should not win.

That choice is with the people.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

Be the first to like this. Showing 0 of 0 comments

Post a Comment