What's Najib's grand strategy for winning back support for the BN? So far, we have no indication of anything of substance coming from our so-called future PM of Malaysia. All we have are the usual empty platitudes - work hard to regain the voters' trust, improve image, etc.
Well, let's look at a few BN's favourite tried-and-true strategies to retain its death-grip on power and their relevance for these times.
1) Throttling finances. This has been a top favourite for constituencies who were "disobedient" and voted opposition. Even after Mar08, the UMNO-led BN govt had no qualms about freezing financial allocations to the 5 Pakatan states, including the 2 most developed states in Malaysia - Selangor and Penang.
They would rather starve and bankrupt the State govts than cooperate for the continued betterment of the rakyat. And to try to justify such blatant blackmailing to the rakyat with excuses such as "the money can be better managed by the Federal govt" and "we don;t know how they are going to squander the money" is assuming that the rakyat is as stupid as the people who thought them up in the first place.
This strategy worked in the past not because Malaysians were dumber then, but because they lived in fear of another May 13. Thus, they capitulated to the BN's will and quietly swallowed UMNO's bullshit. Unfortunately for them, this generation of rakyat is far removed from May 13 enough to NOT be cowered by fear. And they are NOT afraid to speak their minds anymore!
The more BN throttles the Pakatan States, the more they make them out to be martyrs for a popular cause, the more the BN will lose support from the people.
So, Najib, if you have any brains...you won't resort to such nonsense anymore.
2) MSM Spin, spin, spin. The MSM's role to promote the BN's propaganda and run down the Opposition is a well-worn tactic. We see this day in and day out for as long as we can remember. Daily the rakyat is bombarded with story spinning, fact twisting, blowing issues out of proportion, and even blatant lying.
Now to those who are more media savvy, one can still glean the kernel of truth from amidst all that crap. But for those who are not, this is still a major weapon of mass disinformation.
Unfortunately for the BN, because of the internet and mass migration from the small towns and kampungs to major urban areas, many young people have access to alternative points of view and sensational exposes of politicians' wrongdoings. And when the evidence in front of their eyes and the experience of it in their own lives bears witness to the veracity of such news and views, one can be hard pressed to faind a reason to remain loyal to the ruling BN.
And when these young people call or visit home, they bring the news with them. So, slowly but surely, the image of the sleepy, ignorant, easily-manipulated rural population is being replaced by the reality of a population awakening to the abuses of the ruling elite.
For the MSM to go into overdrive to convince voters otherwise will be to invite more scrutiny on their part. And since the BN considers itself beyond scrutiny (andbeing plagued with scandals and contentious issues doesn't help), folks will be easily turned off from the MSM's disconnect from them.
So Najib, it would be wise not to try this tactic as well.
3) Threats of racial riots. This is another perreniel BN favourite. Anytime UMNO is in danger of fallout, the "keris" and the "guando" are surefire strategies for placing fear of change into the hearts of voters, especially the non-Malays.
Unfortunately, this won't work anymore.
Most of the population of Malaysia today do not live in fear of May 13 or Ops Lallang simply because they had not come into political awareness during those dark times. So they do not share the fear of reprisals of their parents. March08 proved this. Since that historic elections, UMNO and its BN lackeys have attempted several times to bring the country to the brink of racial riots. But we have a new generation of politicians now on both sides of the divide.
On the Opposition side, we have political idealists, reformists and activists who are not afraid to speak out and are emboldened by the rakyat's solid support. On the BN side, we have politicians whose lust for money, power and luxury is all-consuming and they would not stick their political necks out and risk antagonising the angry voters too much for fear that they may lose all that their positions of power provide them.
As we have seen in the past year, racial threats are becoming more and more out of place as the civil movement for unity and change gathers momentum.
So Najib, I'm afraid your keris waving days are effectively over.
4) Ops Lallang 3. The ISA vigils around the country enjoy strong support from the silent majority who are quietly counting the days when the cops who harass them are brought to book and justice is delivered to the peace-loving rakyat Malaysia.
The BN toyed with the idea of using the ISA for mass arrests earlier last year and much to their horror and chagrin, instead of cowering in fear, the rakyat stood up to the bullies and demanded that justice be done! Of course, this being BN, there was NO JUSTICE but the detainees were released. (The Best Spin (BS) honour of course goes to Syed Hamid when he justified the govt's backing down by saying that Ms Tan was arrested for her own protection.)
So, no luck for you here Najib!
5) Goodies, goodies, goodies. Just because BN politicians can be easily bought, they assume thatn EVERYONE can be easily bought. The tough lessons from March08 to PP to KT has not been able to drill this truth into the Boneheaded Numskulls' heads yet. Using TAXPAYER'S MONEY to try and bribe them is not the smart thing to do!
AND PEOPLE ARE SICK AND TIRED OF BEING BOUGHT. Even the glittering number of RM3billion oil royalties failed to set the KT voters' hearts a-flutter. I would imagine that instead of chest palpitations, they suddenly felt like they were about to lose their dinner. No matter how much the BN says they give to the state in oil royalties, Terengganu remains one of the POOREST states in Malaysia - despite having the richest oilfields! Not only the people of Terengganu, ANYONE who loves Malaysia as their home would feel a deep sense of injustice at how the BN mismanages our nation's abundant resources!
6) Lecture people to be grateful...or else! In the past, people still had the feudal mentality where authorities were to be obeyed without question and taxes were the right of the rulers, to be used as they pleased. Today, voters demand that authorities be answerable and taxpayers expect their money to be put to good use. People have also generally become more educated and exposed to the world. Lecturing the electorate doesn't work anymore. It hasn't for some years, only the BN was too caught up in its own insular world to realise it.
In 1999, the BN won the elections despite Mahathir at the helm because again the spectre of chaos and violence was used to cow the people. But inside, they were simmering. In 2004, the people almost wiped out the Opposition when the BN was elected on Abdullah's platform of reform. But when it turned out he was all talk and no action, the people lost patience. They decided that the time to talk had ended. They decided that they will vote ANYONE in who could bring about the reforms they wanted.
So Najib, it would be smart to just shut up and let your actions do the talking.
The old strategies no longer work. People are no longer interested in glowing stories, image revamps, and government bribes. Neither are they cowering in fear of Ops Lallang or draconian laws such as ISA. They do not want to hear any more sweet talk, as proven in March08, in PP and now in KT.
No, the ONLY way forward is a complete reform of government. A return to Bersih, Cekap, Amanah. The voters have their EYES WIDE OPEN and they are scrutinising your every move! They will install whichever party is able to deliver. If the BN still fails to take cognisance of this - then they truly deserve to lose everything.
Because slowly but surely, the Malaysian electorate is regaining their dignity. Many voters today have inherited a rotten and corrupt government because their parents sold them out to the BN's lies - either to avoid their threats of racial violence or to ensure their own material gains. Now, these voters want to see a country that THEIR children can be proud of. They don't want their children to look at them in the future and say "you sold us out", just as they were in elections past!