Umno outsources hate speech through Kit Siang essay contest

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”

- Franklin D Roosevelt

BN strategic communications chief Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s latest attack on DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang is the reason why Umno is a morally and intellectually bankrupt political party that should be benched in the coming elections.

What does Abdul Rahman know of political strategy? The only strategy Umno knows in winning elections is gerrymandering, using outsourced thugs, jailing political opponents, restricting freedom of speech and assembly, vote malfeasances and vote purchasing, demonising political rivals using race and religion, surveilling dissidents, controlling the media, and the numerous other dark arts practiced by would-be failing democracies the world over.

Mind you, this is not hyperbole on my part. Even an establishment figure like Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah knows the game is rigged - “(Bagaimanapun) jangan memandang rendah kepada kerajaan kerana mereka ada kuasa, ada televisyen, radio, duit dan media. Mereka juga ada alat-alat risikan dan sebagainya. Media dia lebih tahu pada kita. Dia tahu kita belum tahu lagi. Sama ada dengan kekuasaan itu, parti yang berkuasa akan kalah saya tidak tahu.”

In commenting on this, I wrote - “Here is an establishment politician admitting that the state controls nearly every avenue of expression and uses its intelligence services as a means of securing political victory. In any functional democracy, this would be verboten but here in Malaysia and perhaps South-East Asia, this normalising of authoritarian measures as a means of political victory and a tool of economic and social stability is considered par for the course.”

Meanwhile over the years, Kit Siang has been subjected to the worst excesses of the Umno state. He has been incarcerated, vilified as a “Chinese chauvinist”, as racist, as a usurper to Malay power, as a Rasputin behind oppositional Malay voices, as the instigator of May 13, as an economic saboteur, as a traitor to the country, as a Singapore intelligence operative, as a stooge to the PAP, as anti-Islam and a host of charges and allegations which have never been proven.

Over the years, this Malaysian has had to endure mendacious attacks carried out by the state merely because he is a dissenting voice in the Malaysian political landscape. While establishment politicians were getting rich and winning elections because Malaysians chose to subscribe to the Umno agenda, Kit Siang and his comrades - “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” - had to work in the margins, lost in the wilderness and suffered electoral defeats that lesser people would have packed it in and joined the Umno mainstream.

In defending Umno information chief Annuar Musa’s rather juvenile - and I would argue seditious - essay writing competition, Abdul Rahman made the rather feeble justification - “I believe his intention is to expose what he had said against Lim Kit Siang, that he is a racist, anti-Islam, and so on.” Which is just another way of saying that since Annuar could not offer any tangible evidence that Kit Siang was a racist, Umno was willing to pay people to libel Kit Siang and openly engage in the behaviour that would land most people, and certainly opposition personalities, in jail.

Umno is so desperate but lazy that they are now willing to clumsily outsource their hate speech to the public in an attempt to discredit and vilify their political opponents. Well, I suppose this is one way of generating jobs.

Abdul Rahman’s contention that Kit Siang’s “racist agenda” needed more “exposure” to the public is an admission that Umno propaganda organs are predictably ineffective in attacking Kit Siang. Umno’s attempt to make the public complicit in their political attacks against a member of parliament is an extremely dangerous tactic and indicative of...

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