What clear narrative can Harapan offer? - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, October 23, 2017
Malaysiakini : “Government was rarely more than a choice between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” ― Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam
COMMENT | PKR vice-president
Nurul Izzah Anwar said that Pakatan Harapan needs a clear narrative but I
would argue that the problems of Harapan go far beyond needing a clear
narrative, which it does by the way. The months of internal squabbling
within the party and the collateral damage of dealing with negotiating
with PAS has diminished the credibility of the party. Meanwhile, the DAP
as the Harapan anchor has had to fend off numerous controversies of its
To claim that the opposition is in disarray is an understatement and
to most people, it merely seems that this close to the election –
whenever it is – the opposition seems to be a coalition of petty
fiefdoms existing in an alternate universe where merely belonging in the
opposition washes away the sins of the past.
When Nurul says that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak does not talk
about his scandals, what this really means is that the Umno grand
poohbah is not playing defence. Umno is on the offence when it comes to
the corruption scandals that plague this administration. He does not
need to talk about them because he understands that these scandals are
complicated and that the opposition’s rhetoric that he is an
international outcast does not jive with the photo ops that “world
leaders” provide for future services rendered.
When this issue of holding this anti-kleptocracy was gaining momentum, I said it was a bad idea
– “As it is, this rally will only benefit the Umno regime because it
affords them numerous opportunities to point to the dysfunction of the
opposition, which means very little in echo chambers online, but is of
great influence for people who are sitting on the fence or disillusioned
with the opposition and finally, supporters who may not even turn up to
vote, much less march on the streets.”
Sure enough, what this rally demonstrated to fence-sitters was that
the opposition, even with their "Big Guns", was in disarray and Umno had
a field day, shooting fish in a barrel when it comes to the rhetoric
emanating from this rally.
Furthermore, when you talk about the opposition being oppressed and
the need for people to empathize with the opposition, and the path to
this “empathy” is a clear narrative, you are on the wrong path. Here is
the thing. People want to believe that politicians empathize with them
even if politicians clearly demonstrate that they do not. Therefore,
when the people see all the infighting that goes on in the opposition,
they translate that to the opposition only being concerned about
themselves and political power.
Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia central committee member Tariq Ismail
Mustafa said that rural folks need to be convinced that “change” can
happen but what exactly does change mean? What are they changing to?
Whenever I talk to PSM people, I know exactly what message they are
sending to people. A grassroots message that involves how the system
oppresses the average citizen, which is linked to the local affairs of
the community they are contesting in.