It is getting a little annoying…
Each time I write something positive about BN/UMNO or something negative about PR or its component parties, instead of judging my ideas based on their merits, scores of supporters of the opposition are quick to suggest that I am a BN or UMNO member or agent. That I was being paid to speak on their behalf or simply that I am a crony getting business from the government.
This was especially true and gained momentum after I wrote an open letter to YB Lim Guan Eng suggesting ideas on how DAP can increase Malay support by empathising and understanding them better, deeply considering their concerns. In that letter, I also suggested that YB Lim Kit Siang should graciously retire from politics. This letter attracted hundreds of immediate reactions and many more thereafter from the opposition camp. It also brings forth the wrath from hard core (and may I say unthinking) DAP supporters.
Another example is my disagreement with Haris Ibrahim’s attitude towards change, his ABU approach. Even Haris Ibrahim, a person whom I see as a genuine change agent (although I do not agree with the route he chose to better Malaysian politics) cannot help but suggest in his note to me published in his blog, “As I share the views of many that you are in some way tied with the powers that be,…”.
So let me make myself clear. I am not from BN or UMNO, although I will be quick to support and promote any initiatives by them (or the opposition) which I consider good for the country. I do not get business from any political contacts; in fact have made sure my company stand above board and do not seek government contracts – although in business there is nothing wrong with that!
To illustrate further, let me put it this way. If I am a BN or UMNO member, I would first and foremost have worked towards the demise of DAP and the end of Lim Kit Siang’s political power from the late eighties.
Let me explain.
I was a student at UM’s Faculty of Economics majoring in Public Administration (a coursework that covers many political and government related subjects). I was privileged to have a good academic as a lecturer, a pro DAP scholar; Associate Professor Michael Ong whom I believe is a close friend to Lim Kit Siang. I borrowed many books and asked many questions from the good Professor. (His copy of ‘Time Bomb In Malaysia’ a best seller in the late 70s and early 80s, for example was a personal gift from the book’s author, Lim Kit Siang). The 7th General Elections 1986 smacked right in the middle of my university life. I discovered three important things about the DAP from these experiences.
1. Lim Kit Siang was a capable opposition leader. His speeches and opinions in parliament were well researched. He puts in a lot of hard work, thinking and effort to represent the opposition team and the ‘other’ Malaysia, rightly or wrongly. The salary that we the rakyat paid him as an opposition leader was well worth it. (Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the current opposition leader).
2. While they may have improved markedly, the DAP’s election machinery then (in 1986 election) was shameful, disorganised, and in many places non-existent. UMNO on the other hand had the most efficient, effective and dynamic election machinery and operations in the country. (I used to suggest during my talks, if the Malays can run their businesses the way UMNO managed elections, we can do away with the NEP!)
3. The number of members in DAP is negligible – not even 10 thousand then. DAP’s performance during elections are mostly based on the pendulum swings of Chinese voters who are very sensitive to the state of economic health of the nation. Even today, I do not think DAP has more than 100 thousand members, perhaps at most 60 thousand.
The second and third points above brought me to a simple common sense conclusion – even for a 22 year old undergraduate. It is easy for UMNO and BN to kill off DAP and Lim Kit Siang’s power base. Infiltrate them with thousands of hard core Malay members from UMNO, change the flavour of the DAP and vote Lim Kit Siang out or dilute his power within his own power base. You cannot do that with MCA and MIC, as they are raced based parties. But the DAP is open to all and as such, the majority race (the Malays) can easily take advantage.
With less than 100 thousand members, it is not too difficult a task to neutralise DAP and the Lims. In fact, even PAS with a million members can ‘donate’ 100 thousand members and make DAP ‘Islamic’ with the same formula. Anwar Ibrahim’s ABIM gang alone could do the job rather efficiently if they wanted to. And remember, UMNO has 3 million members!
Now, why UMNO/BN has not done that is a billion ringgit question. As I have suggested I am not from the coalition, so I can only theorise. Perhaps they practice fair play. Or, the strategists in UMNO/BN believe that it is good to have a little manageable competition that is disorganised, inefficient, ineffective and non-threatening. This is perhaps a good way to ensure their own team does not get complacent – like big Brands in FMCG (like Milo) allowing smaller brands to exist (like Vico). Or perhaps, they never thought about it or, nobody was keen on the project. What do you think?
So, where am I getting at?
1. If I am from UMNO or BN all these while, I would have at the point of graduation joined UMNO and be the architect who destroyed DAP and the Lims. I would have earned my stripes and gained a really handsome position. I graduated in 1988. I was a project person. By the second year I was already teaching the juniors how to manage successful projects and sat on boards of advisors with the professors and university officials. I had the experience of running the biggest and perhaps one of the most successful projects ever seen at Universiti Malaya. At the height of the project, I had almost 1000 people running the show reporting to my team of 50 capable, hardworking, united core team organisers – I was then only 21 years old.
I am confident (and knew then) that if upon graduation I joined such a well-greased organisation like UMNO that has already have in place concrete people, structure and processes, I would have been able to neutralise DAP and Lim Kit Siang by mid 90s. Perhaps, many would not have heard of Lim Guan Eng as he would be insignificant within his own party. To date, those who tried to challenge the Lims are fellow Chinese who is dependent on the same limited support base as they – hard core Chinese. None so far who joined the DAP with their own power base. It is difficult to win an incumbent on their own tuft; you need to create a new playing ground, new rules, new people, new thinking.
2. I would like to humbly suggest that pro opposition supporters and key opinion makers to have a little more respect towards centrists like me and my friends. Understand that sometimes we are with you; sometimes we are with BN and many times we provide a third alternative (for example our middle path position towards peaceful demonstrations that was finally practiced by the organisers of #KL112 and the people in power). Understand that such position is all right and natural. You do not have the monopoly of truth and good. None does. Not you, not BN. Stop believing that you are holier than the rest of us and quit being arrogant. Stop spewing “Shame on you” and “if you are not with us then you are against us" mantras, leaving no room for a centrist position, no chance to just be a non-partisan rakyat.
Please remember that we who are not from any political parties will likely form the biggest voting bloc. Even in America, the two-party system example that you so readily flaunt, the independents represent the largest bloc, 40% in 2012. Democrats only had 31% while Republicans, 27%.
3. When we provide a feedback, and especially if the feedback suggests that the current government’s action or idea is the better one; stop, think, reflect, and listen. Your supporters and cohorts will likely go against them blindly. BN supporters will likely follow them without much thought too. We, the non-partisans are the best check and balance. End your childish attacks, rough language, holier than thou statements, and accusations that we are being bought over simply because you are afraid that your unthinking blind supporters may just START TO THINK. We are not here to neuter your position or the position of your opponent. We are here to tell out the truth, as we see it. Your behaviour is beginning to be a little annoying. This takes me to the fourth and final point.
4. Honestly, many of my centrist friends and I are getting a little tired of you. We are fast becoming irritated and if pushed any further we may just work against you. In fact, a few of my friends are already skewing towards BN in the last few months. These were the people who voted against BN in the last general election because they were irritated by them. Now they are finding you as the irritating one. When the BN lost its 2/3rd majority and 5-state governments, these group of voters exclaimed, “Padan muka” to BN. Don’t ever think that they will not do the same to you if you too act with arrogance and are annoying. With the combined votes of BN supporters and the independents, Malaysia will go back to the days where BN not only has a 2/3rd majority, but a very comfortable one. And if that happens, the results of GE12 may just be a one-time wonder.
Last but not least … how you react to this article will show if you understand the stakes at hand, can be helped to change, or simply incorrigible.