Someone I met last week sought my views on whether I think BN will be able to swing back the votes it used to enjoy prior to March, 2008. Ideally of course, I am more concerned with the citizen’s level of political and social maturity. I also wish that more and more citizens will evolve into Raperas so that they will be aware that it them and not the politicians who will safeguard the Nation.
The politicians should just be the “employees” engaged by the citizens to provide the political will and the framework to carry out the larger interests of the Nations, in a manner of speaking. Deification of politicians, whether on the BN or Pakatan side must cease as it will only bloat their egos and lead them to become monsters. These are of course ideals that can only be achieved in the long run because we need to prepare the basis and the framework for citizen’s awareness and participation – for example, greater excess to information, transparency, just laws permit responsible participation in the democratic process, continuing education, etc. All these will take time.
I foresaw the political disequilibrium that we have today eight months after (Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi came into power with his Islam Hadhari and his “Islamic image”. I was of course thoroughly convinced that Pak Lah will lead BN to election disaster, when after one year in power, he declared that the ”honeymoon period is over”. I also had the opportunity to see up close people who were supposedly “in charge of managing political affairs” then work. How they worked and what they perceived convinced me that they were living in another planet, not Malaysia. So many factors then clearly showed that BN was heading for a major erosion in political support.
My experience was that between 2004 to 2008, while the opposition was willing to listen and understand what was brewing on the ground, BN was turning a deaf arrogant ear. Civil society that may have worked “bersama-sama saya dan bukan untuk saya” ended up working with the opposition. To make matters worse, Pak Lah’s public image of being a ‘nice guy’ was not working in the BN’s interest. The country needed a strong, firm and efficient leader who can deliver. Rightly or wrongly, he was seen as a leader who was not taking any trouble to deliver. He was perceived as a weak and inefficient leader and his early departure from office proved this perception correct.
Those in power did not want to listen to objective professionals and analysts in the corridors of power. I recall being rebuffed by a “powerful” person when I cautioned them on the new power of the new media. In short, it was as if all the factors that will bring down BN were at work all at the same time and BN was blinded to see them.
From a historic majority in 2004, Pak Lah managed to bring BN down to a historic low in 2008. Within those four years, the socio-political landscape and players have changed. It seems even the rules of the political game and how it is played has changed. All these, I believe must be new to BN who is used to the unchallenged old ways. After all, we must remember that BN still has mostly OLD (ways of thinking, not age) ways of thinking which is steeped in the name of “party continuity”. Pakatan on the other hand is a new kid on the block and willing to experiment and modify its behaviour for political purposes.
Many of Pakatan MPs and Aduns are those who are familiar with civil society and NGOs and have worked closely with the ordinary people before coming into political position. In this sense, their awareness of the common citizen’s aspirations may be still fresh. Except for the very top echelons of PKR, most of the other opposition leaders are not of ‘bangsawan’ or elitist category. Compare this with UMNO or MIC. Most of the BN politicians are those who rose from political ranks with no other real exposure.
In all these developments, the Rakyat too have found new power of how to check the politicians. They now realize the true meaning of how absolute power corrupts. They now will strategise and vote according how their voices can truly be heard all the time and not just once in every five years at the ballot box. Apart from the diehard BN or Pakatan supporters, I believe the majority only want efficient, honest and strong leadership that can tackle the issues that the Nation faces. Many that I have spoken to have a wish list that is a combination of the “best” leaders from both sides of the political fence. Makes sense, tough not ‘pragmatic’.
So will BN regain its lost political ground? Looking at things as they are today, I doubt. BN will have to radically change if it wants to regain the political position prior to 2008. However, vested interests in BN will oppose this radical change.
what do you think?