Malaysiakini Letter

Lessons from Kajang polls - winners and losers

JD Lovrenciear  |  Published:  |  Modified:

The results of the just-concluded Kajang by-election will subsequently be reduced to a diagnostic, academic exercise as arguments, justifications and interpretations keep hogging the mediascape.

BN has already started presenting its viewpoints along race-based analysis consistent with its long years of race-based politics. Some others within Pakatan would also fall into the same gutter as they share their seemingly learned viewpoints on the winning.

But here are some lessons for both winners and losers. The bottom-line is pay attention to common sense and logic. Look at the outcomes through the lenses of the rakyat allowing humility and commitment to take precedence and priority.

Lesson One: On learning about BN losing, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak should not have changed his mind. He should have appeared in Kajang as was reported he would, earlier.

By not appearing before the rakyat there, he has sent two very strong messages. First, that he is more a president of partisan politics rather than a prime minister for all people irrespective of who or which party they voted for.

Second, it clearly drives home the perception that the president of the BN political party does not even honour the thousands who still voted for his party. That is a letdown. The people who still cast their precious vote will in all likelihood take this into cognisance the next time around. Malaysians ‘mudah lupa’ is being already proven as a fallacy.

In fact, if the prime minister had turned up and went about to congratulate the winning party and candidate, he certainly would have won greater admiration even amongst those who cast a vote for his opponents.

Lesson Two: BN losing the by-election was a forgone conclusion from day one. That, BN would have known from the very start. Hence the knee jerk reactions as soon as news got around that Anwar Ibrahim would be contesting the forced-vacant seat.

When you know you are contesting against all odds, your campaign strategies cannot hinge on the unrelenting, battering and humiliating tactics targeted at your opponents.

Instead you should have seized upon a positive and ‘healing-touch’ approach where you showcase your success stories in the constituency even though you lost badly in the last elections here. It is all about the power of magnanimity.

But it takes courage and conviction to show a humane, principle-centred approach in your campaign trail. That can only happen if you have a track record of above-the-belt party politics.

Lesson Three: The fact that the tallying centre saw a significant absence of BN leaders whereas the entire machinery of leadership from the opposition congregated, is a lost opportunity for BN. Therefore the BN leadership has only itself to blame for the future.

As much as you tried to muscle your presence by sending military artillery to be stationed at the Kajang Stadium, you have also bazooka-blown your reputation with your total absence at the centre.

A woman of hope

Lesson Four: This lesson is for the winning team. While congratulations and blessings of hope are rightfully showered upon Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, she needs to know that the countdown of her coalition’s march to the MB’s office or to Putrajaya has begun.

And she is at the forefront of this potentially and highly possible defining moment-of-truth in the history of this nation.

Therefore, Wan Azizah needs to recognise that she needs to be seen more in the constituency. She needs to walk the talk more. She must recognise that she is perceived as a woman of hope and as the wife of a man who is brutalised by his opponents.

As such she has every opportunity to keep increasing the winning of the hearts and minds of the whole nation.

By appearing and participating more frequently amongst the local Kajang folk at public places like markets, shopping centres, community functions, etc, she will garner a national image of a caring, concerned woman, mother, wife, sister - a capacity-leader with a face, a heart and total presence.

Although it is easier said then done; although arguments will keep popping up that there are more important things to do as an elected representative, do not discount the Malaysian mindset and human behaviour.

 

Do not make the same mistakes that BN so often finds itself entrenched in.

Lesson Five: Pakatan must take inventory of yet another crucial fact. Each time its coalition draws to an election date, that which spills out in the public foyer is talk of divisiveness within its barracks.

From now on, if Pakatan is serious about Putrajaya, it must have zero-tolerance policy and action on divisive, internal bickering politics. It cannot discount that crucial need to put up a truly united front. Otherwise be prepared for another 52 percent winnings in the next general election.

It better be a ‘Walk the Talk’ and ‘Talk the Walk’ crusade within Pakatan.

Lesson Six: Both BN and Pakatan need to accept that unwritten rule that at the end of the day winning an election is not about statistics. It is about perceptions that lead to action.

What is significant in the just concluded election is that Malaysians are marching beyond the borders of race and religious prejudices, hatred and blinkered visions. What is driving the fast-growing awareness amongst the voting population is that this nation is for all citizens.

People as a result of the increasing economic and financial hardships are beginning to recognise that here is a nation that need not be poor. As such, they will seek out leadership that thrives on principle-centred thinking and actions.

The old school that promotes gerrymandering will not hold water in next general election. If the practice continues, then the nation must be prepared for greater chaos. Guns and gunpowder, or muscles and fists will not gain support from the voting population.

As in the song of Bob Dylan, the times they are a changin.

Once again syabas to the winner; and shame on you losers for not being a sport but choosing partisan politics.

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