Sunday, February 17, 2013

PM Najib and Oppa Gangnam Penang Style.

I grew up in Penang. I grew up amongst the Chinese, mainly Hokkiens. Thanks to the experience, I am familiar with them and conversant in their dialect.

Those who grew up amongst them will be familiar with their logic and reasoning during mediation. There is a favourite defence mechanism.  It goes like this;

Wa bo sa lah.” [I’m not in the wrong]
Lu bo ka wa kong.” [You didn’t tell me (from the very beginning]
Lu bo sia lok lai ma.” [There’s no written agreement]

The above sequence is an automatic response typically whenever they are in a debate or dispute. It’s almost like a standard operating procedure. And because of this line of thinking, it is not entirely surprising that when the Prime Minister asked, “Is Penang ready for BN?” during the Chinese New Year gig; there are those among them who boldly answered ‘No’ without feeling any guilt.

Let me explain.

Unlike the Malays generally, the Penang Chinese do not easily feel ‘terhutang budi’ when someone extend a kind act as did the BN. When they extended a gift, like bringing Psy to Penang, many Penang Chinese generally do not see it as an obligation to be nice in return. Their reaction is simple, “I did not ask you to do it. If you do it… that is your problem lah.” Basically, Wa bo sa lah. Lu bo ka wa kong. Lu bo sia lok lai ma.

If Penang Gerakan or MCA hope they can wrestle the votes of Penang Chinese in favour of BN simply because they brought Psy to Penang, I will be genuinely surprised. It will be asking far too much. Penangites will go and have fun at the concert with Psy entertaining them, eat the free food, but they are still likely to vote for the DAP. There was no earlier ‘agreement’ to require voting for BN in return for the kind act of bringing Psy and the party; and therefore, they do not feel that they are in the wrong. Wa bo sa lah. Lu bo ka wa kong. Lu bo sia lok lai ma.

This is especially true where DAP supporters are concern. As their leader, CM Lim Guan Eng openly told them it is okay to be a freeloader and go have free fun, eat the free food, and dress in symbolic opposition colours.

But does that mean BN had a public relations disaster as per pro-opposition pundits are trying to sell? Not at all!  Unfortunately today in Malaysia, extreme partisanship has made critics from both sides exaggerate situations way far off reality with the hope to paint the other side as bad as possible and colour their side as best as they could. 

Through the CNY show BN may have achieved the following.

1. The Chinese New Year gathering  has reminded the Penang Chinese that BN/Gerakan/MCA are still around, can still move things in a big way and Penang is not the monopoly of the DAP. It was an occasion for BN to engage the rakyat directly. The event was a good PR opportunity for a re-launch of sorts.

2. Furthermore, the Penang rakyat including hard core DAP supporters get to meet, see, and listen to the Prime Minister in person. With his earnest effort to woo and mingle with the grassroots it helps to bolster the image of a leader who mati-mati wants to be a Prime Minister for all Malaysians. By stressing that he wants to be the Prime Minister for all, including the Chinese who currently are seen solidly with the opposition sits well among the fence sitters of all races. His willingness to risk going into ‘an enemy territory’ and be humbled and snubbed portrays him as a leader who is soft in the outside but very strong in the inside.

3. Chances are those who answered either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the Prime Minister at the gathering, would have answered the same regardless. But this event is advantageous to the BN for it is luring the fence-sitters. And they form the bulk of the electoral roll nationwide. What happens in Penang does not stay only in Penang.  Both BN and PR should worry about what these non-partisan undecided voters think of BN and PM Najib after the event instead of focussing on hard core supporters from each side who are already decided. In this coming election, the non-partisans are the kingmakers.

4. As suggested in item 3, what happens in Penang does not stay in Penang. I have strong convictions that scores of Malays will not take kindly that a ‘Malay’ leader like PM Najib has been snubbed openly by a mainly Chinese crowd. Many Malays will see this as rude, unbecoming, and uncultured.  In the Malay way of being and ideals, when one comes bearing ‘gifts’ – in this case, an international star  performer and good food – and you decide to take it, at the least one must be courteous and considerate. Acting any other way can be construed as ‘tak berterima kasih’ and ill-mannered. Some will say, if they can do it to Najib a Prime Minister, imagine what will they do to us, we the rakyat jelata.

At most, from a Malay standpoint, one should just remain silent instead of answering ‘No’. By not saying ‘yes’ it will mean ‘no’, but in a nicer way. Malays are sensitive to such things.  In the late 90s, many Malays while not being Anwar’s supporters and may even agree with Dr Mahathir’s point of view did not take kindly with the manner the former DPM  was treated.  Such behaviour by the Penangites, coupled with other incidents like CM Lim Guan Eng using the Allah issue in his Christmas message for political purpose (which probably baffled even people in PAS his own comrades in PR) and the recent rude ‘gesturing’ to Her Majesty The Queen by someone many Malays see as a DAP supporter will make them rasa was-was with the DAP leadership. This will have a direct impact on the average Malays be they from UMNO, PAS, PKR or party less.

In short, Malaysian politics is far more complicated and sophisticated and by far more dynamic than one might aspect. For example, when CM Lim Guan Eng uses the Allah issue for political purpose perhaps to gain the support of the Christians in Sabah and Sarawak, he dented his own team mates in PAS and PKR within the Peninsular. Similarly, when Ibrahim Ali and right wing Malay groups like Perkasa reacted by suggesting the burning of the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, the act will move various parties in differing ways.

In short, what one group does have repercussion in many forms across the nation. Playing to one group, will affect another – it is no easy task to win the leadership of Malaysia. Leaders must find a delicate balance.

To lead this nation, and to be Prime Minister of Malaysia, each candidate no matter if you are in a Malay or Chinese stronghold; in Penang or Kelantan or Sabah or Sarawak you must be a leader for all. It is not enough to have the Malays supporting you. You also need the support of the Chinese, the Indians, and the communities of Sabah and Sarawak. You will need the support of people in urban areas and rural areas. You will need support from the old, the middle aged, and the young.

In doing so, a Malay leader cannot be too Malay, the Chinese cannot be too Chinese, the Indians cannot be too Indian, the Sabahans cannot be too Sabahan, the Sarawakians cannot be too Sarawakian. They all have to be Malaysian first.

Najib’s Oppa Gangnam in Penang has shown that he is serious about wanting to be a Prime Minister for all. For that, he has my respect. I hope he and those like him be they from BN, PR or civil society will continue to work towards being a Malaysian leader no matter what. Even if you receive millions of  ‘NOs!”

Anas Zubedy
Kuala Lumpur


vinnan said...

Most important 'wah em part kiam le'. The BN idiots can never understand this.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Anas,

Reaction: No 3 just about says it. I was at 2 kenduri kawin -- one in cheras, the other in ipoh (i do get around) -- and talk of course turned to politics. Many of the pokcik and makcik view the behaviour as very kurang assam (ajar).
People been saying najib stupid, so bodoh to ask that question in hostile territory. Not!

Anonymous said...

Hi anas
If DS Najib wants the Penang people to enjoy the performance, then he shouldnt turn it into a political event. he shouldn't ask a question where the answer might go both ways. It is not sabotage also, because the psy performance was supposed to be a chinese new year event, free for all.

My 12 year old nephew has this to say, every question has 2 possible answers. A yes or no. Do not expect a large crowd to give the same answers. And your suggestion to keep quiet if you don't disagree is rather 'odd' coming from a marketing practitioner like you. I may be a guest to your event, but I still can voice my opines if you ask stupid questions. I think Najib diid a major marketing boo boo

Anonymous said...

It might do you some good to read from an old timer Kadir Jasin aka the scribe. You might learn a thing or two from him.

Anonymous said...

This is utter bullshit. Najib or BN think that by bringing PSY here, they can get the votes from penagites. Isn't it too naive to have such thinking. This is a big insult to Chinese voters. What we ask is very simple, a good gov with good governace which can give use a better quality of life, a better education, transportation etc. These are basic thing a gov should do but BN choose to screw up every aspects and take advantage of robbing the rakyat by so many privatization to their cronies (non Malay included).

"Yunnan PaiYao" a poor man medicine > the miracle powder for wound is now RM9. Previously it was only RM5. And the reason - because it must have the halogram sticker approved and imported by crony. Imagine an extra 80% increase overnight to fill the pocket of the crony. And this is only one item. Our salary don't even increase by 80%!!! Rakyat are being sucked dry . The govt must be changed or else many hardship will follow . Wake up! Lets Storm the Bastille!

What do I get for paying toll everyday? Now I have to pay an extra RM50 for each credit card . For what? Extra GST (Goods & Services Tax). Again, how does that benefit me?

Look at the long list:

> I have to pay for security guards because the police are hopeless.
> I have to install filters because the water supply is dirty.

> I have to watch satellite tv because the government broadcasts crap.

I mean REAL CRAP !!

> Many kids have to go for tuition or to private schools because the

government schools are bad .

> We have to pay IPPs (independent power providers) because the

government cannot provide consistent electricity.

> We have to pay Indah Water to clean up the sewers.
> We have to pay tax on foreign cars because Mahathir wants to keep

his dying local car industry alive. ON top of it APs cost bcoz of his

> Most have to drive because the government cannot provide good

public transport .
> We have to pay to sustain the government's affirmative action

policies .
> We have to pay for private health care because the public hospitals

are crowded .

> All in all, we have to pay a PREMIUM to stay in this country!

1Malaysia Boleh??? The UMNO/BN government thinks that we are STUPID or VERY STUPID!! That's why they continue relentlessly to bully us. They think that we don't have the guts to vote them out!! You decide.

But how is it that Opposition State Government in Penang can give her citizens free internet access within one year in Government, rice for the poor, while BN Government in power since Independence cannot do it? . . . . . Think!!!

Anonymous said...

Satu masa dulu,adik aku pernah menetap di UK selama lebih setahun. Tapi adik ipar aku duduk situ dah lama, dekat 6 tahun. Duduk situ, kerja bukannya kerja besar, kerja pun chef kecil-kecilan dekat restoran. Adik aku pulak kerja jadi baby sitter. Gaji, takde la besar, tak sampai pun seribu pound tak silap aku . . . tapi . . .

(1) Baju kat sana 3 pound. Kat Malaysia baju2 tu hanya dijual di Pavilion, KL. Baju orang kebanyakan di UK, baju orang kaya di Malaysia.
(2) Kasut Lacoste kat sana 20 pound.
(3) Sewa bilik ada dapur 200 pound.

(4) Transportation takde, naik bas, naik tube, satu hari punya tiket 5 pound unlimited ride, Tak payah tunggu lama, paling lama tunggu bas, 5 minit 2 bijik datang. Naik tube tak pernah rasa tak selesa. Ada Oyster kad, senang nak ke mana-mana.
(5) Pegi Asda ke Tesco ke, beli barang dapur, satu troli 20 pound. Lepas untuk seminggu.
(6) Tak pernah rasa nak beli kereta sebab membazir, orang kaya berlagak aje pakai kereta ke mana-mana.
(7) Jalanraya sesuai untuk bawak basikal. Adik ipar aku, main transportation dia, basikal, undang-undang . . . wajib pakai helmet.
(8) Tambang tube nak ke airport . . . 3 pound.
(9) DVD ori sekeping 3 pound. Aku beli Ice Age 1 dan 2 boxset 6 pound.
(10) Apa-apa barang pun mcm pakaian, tak puas hati dengan produk, boleh pulangkan dalam tempoh 30 hari, takde banyak soal asal simpan resit dan tag tak dicabut.
(11) Dan aku malas nak cerita pasal Black Friday dan sale musim panas.
(12) Bayangkan anda mampu beli kereta Mercedes second hand cash . . . dengan hanya mengeluarkan 500 pound. Sini? Hutang 5 tahun untuk bayar kereta second hand . . kereta di UK tidak ada value sangat kerana . . . pengangkutan awam membuatkan kereta tidak relevan dan penting dalam hidup. Perkhidmatan teksi adalah sesuatu perkhidmatan premium sebab teksi tidak diperlukan sangat.

> Bila dia balik Malaysia,
. . . . . . kerja mesti kena ambik overtime, kalau tak duit tak cukup. Barang makanan sekali pegi beli Rm200. Nak pegi beli barang pun susah sebab public transport susah. Apa yang Ismail Sabri Yaakob pelik macam mana RPK boleh hidup mewah kat UK kalau orang Malaysia yang kerja dia waiter kedai makan dekat Malaysia Hall pun boleh hidup senang kat sana? Adik ipar aku balik sini, sambil hisap rokok dengan aku dia tanya aku, "Apasal hidup kat Malaysia ni susah sangat?"

Lagi la pelik bila menteri tanya apasal ramai orang lebih gemar migrate ke negara lain . . . Tukang sapu pun boleh hidup senang kat UK. Marah pulak diorang bila rakyat mempersoalkan "Kenapa menteri mampu hidup mewah kat Malaysia, layak ke diorang?"

Anonymous said...

No matter how much you spin, a disaster is a disaster. Otherwise, why we have an edited Yes for BN came out. How come Chang Yeow come up with such idiotic comment that Psy kenna the attempt to kill him
From the beginning, the PM has treated this CNY campaign as a political campaign.

In short, you asked for it. When shit hit the fan, blame yourself.
Talking about courtesy......As a PM, he should be magnanimous enough to invite Lim Guan Eng, an elected chief minister of Penang....hand in hand run the CNY yee sang.....
Since no courtesy is given to your ketua menteri, why should we respect your PM, Najib?
Even Winston Churchill kenna sai, who the f is najib razak?

I strongly suggest you watch the youtube.......We are beri kind to Najib.....The british gave middle finger to a war hero

Anonymous said...

Love yr articles.BTW,on behalf of M'sian Chinese, TQ for the CNY advertisement. You truly epitomises IM.

zakwan said...

I beg to differ, Anas
The PM deserved to be treated with such hostility due to the fact that he is taking us for fools
Does he actually thought that by inviting a mega superstar from Korea to his Chinese New Year open house at the expense of taxpayer's money, he can regain our votes?
It's going to take more than K-pops and other forms of hedonism to win our votes
I also find it embarrassing because there hasn't been a single PM in our country's history who had to resort to bringing in foreign acts as the main attraction to their event

As a 1st time voter, I am indeed insulted that the BN government thinks it can win my vote just by showering me with excessive entertainment

So you think Malays find that the conduct of majority Penang Chinese crowd shouting No!!! at our PM as rude and unbecoming?
As a Malay myself, I find this trivial compared to the numerous antics and gangster like behavior displayed by hooligans under BN's payroll that included shouting defamatory remarks such as peliwat, gay, jubur, babi among others, urinating on posters bearing the images of ulamas, throwing paint and stones at vehicles, posting death threats to opposition leaders on FBs and Twitter and many others
I hope you will voice out your concerns on the ongoing incident at Pekan where a student movement campaigning to compete in the coming polls there are constantly harassed by UMNO hooligans

Regarding LGE's speech asking the government to allow Christians to use the word Allah, I see no malice there
If you can recall, Datuk Nazri has specifically stated that non Muslims in Penang can use Allah because there is no monarchy
So unless you have been living under a rock all this time despite being a Penangnite, you should know about this

Jake said...


We should not take Najib's multi-million dollar mega show at face value. Its certainly not a "kind act", but more toward staging an expensive public relations show for his election campaign. Too bad for him it backfired. He asked a simple question, he got a simple honest answer.

Look at it this way, suppose if I invite you to my house for a nice dinner, then afterward, ask you to "sign over your house to me for $1".

Surely you will say 'No'.

As a marketing guru, you should know that simply throwing money at something doesn't get you results.