Everytime an election is near, the brains behind political strategy of election campaign will start cracking and one by one the revelations, news spin and shocking exposé will surface in order to maintain an upper-hand in the perception game.
Some will gain traction while some will not make a dent among the psyche of the whole population. Worse, some issues raised will backfire.
Here are a few hits and misses of election issues that have been brought up just to stir and heighten the tension of an already anxious population. We must expect more to come in the next few weeks.
C. Sugumaran’s death
On 23rd January 2013, C. Sugumaran who was believed to be mentally unstable was found dead after being beaten by the public and allegedly by some police officers after he went berserk and caused damages to public property.
Politicians from PKR namely N. Surendran and Latheefa Koya quickly seized the opportunity to run a smear campaign on the police alleging police brutality over an innocent man whose only crime is to run amok and potentially be harmful to other bystanders.
Hoping to emulate the smear campaign on police’s brutality for the death Kugan Ananthan in lock up back in 2009, both opportunists Surendran and Latheefa even sought the help Dr. Pornthip to perform post-mortem on Sugumaran’s remains, of which the infamous pathologist had declined. The absurdity of taking advantage over death of others and trying to prolong a family’s bereavement is lost upon them.
However, due to Hindraf’s constant sniping at Pakatan Rakyat and the lack of focus on indians in Pakatan Rakyat’s manifesto, the issue just died a natural death a few weeks after it surfaced.
Rest in peace, C. Sugumaran.
Verdict: A miss
Pakatan Rakyat’s manifesto
Pakatan Rakyat launched its election manifesto on 25th February with much pomp and celebratory claptrap from within the informal coalition that it befuddled even Anwar Ibrahim when so many had dismissed the manifesto as a non-serious, non-obligatory document a couple of weeks later.
Right off the bat, there was a silly omission of efforts to uplift the plights of indians although Anwar Ibrahim and his lackeys rebutted them by saying the manifesto transcends all race and creed, he however made an about turn when finally he said the manifesto will be amended to include specific commitments to the indian community.
Like what an article in Free Malaysia Today had published:
This episode of the Pakatan manifesto has revealed many weaknesses in the Pakatan fabric. Clearly, within the ranks of Pakatan, the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Rather some underhand handiwork is suspected. For instance:
• Lim Guan Eng was quoted to have said that the manifesto only sets out the common policies of political parties but not the specifics. But now Anwar has contradicted him by including specifics – about the Indian community.
• Anwar Ibrahim had said when the manifesto was first launched, that it transcends racial groups. But now Anwar has contradicted himself.
• Pakatan’s director of strategy, Rafizi Ramli, had said it was not a mistake to not have mentioned Indians in the manifesto. But now Anwar has made him eat his words.
After all the hullabaloo made by segments of the marginalised Indian community who felt they were being again marginalised in the manifesto, Pakatan is trying hard to regain lost ground. But it is too little too late
There were other peculiarities from the manifesto which made it lose traction and potentially votes for Pakatan. Namely, Khalid Ibrahim’s admission that a manifesto is not a promise and also the timing of the launch of the document.
The former damaged the credibility of Pakatan’s capability to deliver its promises while the early kick-off of Pakatan’s campaign is deemed as too early for some. In the fast world of cyberspace, by the time the manifesto was two weeks old, the other side has dismantled it and highlighted its flaws. Which made this a public relations failure in terms of strategic electoral campaign. Releasing it too early even before Parliament is dissolved won’t help much in terms of gaining votes from the fence sitters.
As the result, the manifesto is deemed an insignificant political tool at the moment.
Verdict: A miss
Sulu terrorists on Lahad Datu
Around mid February 2013, dozens of Sulu terrorists landed in an area in Lahad Datu to wage war on our soil. But in a knee jerk reaction by most Pakatan Rakyat’s leaders, they dismissed it as a ‘sandiwara of Umno’ (as in the case of Tian Chua) or a school drama. They made several unfortunate remarks about how inefficient our security forces are and worse, they ridiculed the sacrifices made by the fallen heroes.
Not to mention the fact that the Philippines and international media had pin pointed Pakatan Rakyat as among the culprit who had invited the terrorists into our land and also the fact that Anwar Ibrahim has close ties with Nur Misuari, the leader of MNLF, a known advocate of capturing Sabah.
The social media was filled with sympathies and support for the government’s effort to protect and defend our sovereignty but the leaders of Pakatan Rakyat continued to belittle and criticise the effort. They were going against the tide and losing ground on the perception game which, miraculously only Lim Kit Siang recognised the ebbing support towards Pakatan’s wayward stand 3 weeks after the incursion.
In his article on 7th March 2013, Lim Kit Siang had said:
The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s stand of unconditional surrender for the Sulu militants deserves the support of all Malaysians.
There is neither basis nor merit in the call for ceasefire or the unilateral ceasefire by the Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, after eight police commandoes had been slain and some of their corpses treated in the most harrowing and bestial manner after they had fallen as national heroes in the cause of national duty to protect national sovereignty and the security of the state and people.
All Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or political affiliation, are united as one in giving full endorsement to all necessary measures by the government and the security forces to end the month-long battle against Sulu militants.
By mid March, the Lahad Datu incursion made a mark in everyone’s psyche whereby the ridiculous tormenting of all government’s effort have spoiled Pakatan’s image in the bigger scheme of things.
Verdict: A miss
Betrayal by Saiful Bukhari’s father
Sensing that Parliament will be dissolved soon and scrambling to regain the lost ground on the Lahad Datu debacle, Azlan Mohd Lazim, the father of Saiful Bukhari made a compelling revelation that allegedly, the sodomy case involving his son was a conspiracy concocted by personalities close to Najib Razak. Never mind the fact that he never met these ‘conspirators’ himself.
Saiful Bukhari himself made a press statement a few hours later to dismiss the assertions made by his father. To top it off, he told the world that his father is a victim of Anwar Ibrahim’s political ploy.
A few days after, his father announced that he is joining PKR. It is interesting to note that in both occasions, Azlan Lajim was escorted by a PKR leader named Johari Abdul, an MP from Sungai Petani.
A cursory assessment at the reaction of this fiasco revealed that there was no positive impact on Pakatan Rakyat’s election strategy. Even a pro Pakatan columnist has apprehension towards this U-turn.
Verdict: A miss
Anwar Ibrahim latest video
A few days ago a blog revealed a few pictures allegedly a sexual tryst of Anwar Ibrahim in a hotel room. The grainy pictures threw almost everyone initially but as the furore subsided, the matter has shifted to the act of Anwar Ibrahim suing another blogger for RM100 million for slandering him as a homosexual.
Umno has quickly distancing itself from the pictures while PAS’ Harakah Daily had frequently highlighted this story with glee.
The said blogger fought back by telling the knee-jerk reaction prone Anwar Ibrahim to rescind the litigation otherwise further video exposures implicating Anwar Ibrahim further will be published.
Verdict: At first a miss for BN for this gutter politics, but will be a miss for Pakatan if Anwar Ibrahim mishandles the litigation.
Taib Mahmud’s video
Yesterday’s evening saw a video by Global Witness which had slandered Taib Mahmud through an investigation piece by a western journalist. In that video it was alleged that shady corporate deals are being administered by relatives of Taib Mahmud which gave the impression that Taib Mahmud is enriching himself through his family members and syphoning money into overseas bank accounts.
Taib Mahmud fought back the allegations by saying it wasn’t true.
Taib Mahmud had a tremendous track record in developing Sarawak which for a fact, had caused him to win the 2011 state election in a landslide victory. Analysis of that win can be read here.
It is very interesting to see the kind of effect this video will have on the voters. The next few days will be crucial for the political strategy teams in Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat in dealing with this issue.
Verdict: Too early to predict. Could be a hit or a miss for Pakatan Rakyat.