The circulation of propaganda comics at the Bukit Jalil Merdeka celebrations yesterday puts a question mark on government’s claim that their celebrations are apolitical.
The 20-page comic titled ‘Promises Fulfilled By The PM For The Rakyat’ piles praise upon the government’s initiatives, while making subtle jibes at the opposition.
The mystery publication by anonymous artists was given out for free at the stadium before start of the event that featuring Prime Minister Najib Razak.
On one of its pages, a couple is arguing over spending their RM100 school handout on groceries. The wife berates the husband saying they have no more money as he has spent everything by “frequenting the ceramah”.
In another, a young man raves angrily that he can no longer “demonstrate and harass people” since the Internal Security Act (ISA) was abolished.
In both cases, the men are depicted wearing a white kopiah and green baju Melayu, and are always criticising the government’s schemes such as the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) RM500 cash handout to poor families.
The character appears five times throughout the comic book.
On page 12, a man is shown raising his arms to heaven as if praying, but instead offering praise to the PM for the curtains he has afforded to purchase at the Kedai Kain Rakyat 1Malaysia (1Malaysia fabric store).
On page 9, a man is scolded for being ‘berotak Yahudi’ (behaving like a Jew) for wanting to slander BN by using black magic on ballot boxes.
These cartoons, which have all the fingerprints of pro-BN propaganda, are packaged in a colourful booklet whose cover is bright and cheery in the style of BN campaign artwork, and includes a loud poster that reads ‘We love the PM’.
The ruling party’s celebration of this 55th anniversary of independence has been dogged by controversy, in particular the use of BN’s campaign slogan Janji Ditepati as the Merdeka theme.
What has been billed by some as the most thorny Merdeka celebrations in the nation’s history culminated in yesterday’s Merdeka countdown event at the historic Dataran Merdeka in the heart of Kuala Lumpur to be swamped by 10,000 Janji Demokrasi participants clad in yellow, the colour of the electoral reform movement Bersih.
Not to be outdone, Najib has declared his own Bukit Jalil stadium affair a “success” unlike last nights.
From the hundreds of buses chartered to ferry people to Bukit Jalil to the free LRT tickets to attendees, the government appears to have spared no expense in ensuring a full turnout at the event.
These include lavish lucky draw prizes ranging from the latest Proton Preve to rather un-Malaysian products such as a Chevrolet Cruze, a Vespa scooter, 50 Huawei tablet computers, 10 fixie bicycles and three Blackberry smartphones.