By S Thayaparan
“The ruling power is always faced with the question, ‘In such and such circumstances, what would you do?’, whereas the opposition is not obliged to take responsibility or make any real decisions.” – George Orwell
COMMENT By now most readers would realise that Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin is my bête noire that I’m inexplicably fond of revisiting. The fact that he can string a sentence in English and maintain a conversation even though it’s laced with the usual Umno venom puts him higher on the evolutionary scale than the usual racist pond scum that ooze about in Putrajaya.
I guess if he passes off as intelligent in the current political scene then we as a nation are really in trouble. Check that.
It’s election season so the dumb just keeps on coming. His latest strategic move against the opposition by way of his BN cybertroopers Youth Team – why is it every move Umno makes has a patina of Nazi chic in it? – is to claim that the alternative news portals are in fact biased against BN.
Well duh? Of course they are biased. Okay, let’s add a little nuance to my statement.
Online news portals definitely give air time to ‘opposition’ personalities and why not since it’s an untapped market considering the mainstream media gives nearly nothing or spins outrageously as contended by former National Union of Journalists president Hata Wahari, or more recently as shown by Utusan Malaysia, which can’t seems to tell the difference between spinning and outright lying.
They don’t bother censoring the gaffes that government types make. They sniff out controversial views or stories for the sake of publicity and most times if the mainstream media is viewed as propaganda organs, there’s a faint trace of yellow in the way how online journalism is practiced.
Online political pundits, most of them anyway, are partisan to the extreme, in favour of the opposition. Some of them make a side income of writing for the mainstream press but let’s face facts; they really cut loose in the media which allows them the freedom to express themselves in all their partisan glory. Here in Malaysiakini, the political pundits section most times, it’s one big echo chamber.
I have written about this sad state of affairs in my ‘Press Gangs’ piece but let’s not kid ourselves; this is the way how Umno-BN set up the discourse.
While Utusan is allowed to wreak havoc in the name of Umno supremacy and the rest of the mainstream press in the shackles of political interests, the alternative press has connections and is funded by a range of political and foreign interests that would surprise their subscriber base, it is the usual BN hypocrisy to play the victim in the saga of their eroding influence.
The reason why the BN hate is concentrated online is because there is no place to air contrarian views in the mainstream press.
Show us the evidence
Khairy claims that his troopers are being censored. Two things. Firstly, now you know how it feels.
Secondly, as far as Malaysiakini is concerned, I find it difficult to believe that any online news organisations would censor BN cyber trollers for the simple reason that they attract more views. People love a good debate.
I know for a fact that Malaysiakini have banned certain posters for various policy reasons but none solely because they were pro-BN. But I may be wrong. I make no claims as to how Malaysiakini works, only that they have never asked me to engage in self-censorship or attempted to restrict my criticisms against any political party. Khairy, why don’t you give us a concrete example of where one of your boys or girls was discriminated against?
Khairy moans about the fact that the online world should be concerned about racial sensitivity and seditious remarks, but he has no problem when Umno propaganda organs spew the most virulent strains of racist rhetoric which would sound familiar in the Jim Crow South.
Khairy just doesn’t get it and I think he is in the same boat with a large section of the electorate. It is a good thing that Pakatan Rakyat is a three-headed beast but not for the reasons most Pakatan supporters believe. It has got nothing to do with diversity but everything to do with a clash of ideas. I suspect I have not been clear about this in my various Malaysiakini pieces.
For far too long, Malaysian racialist impulses have been buried beneath the iron grip of the Umno-BN imposed ‘muhibbah’ spirit. With Pakatan, the clash of racial and religious preoccupations is unfettered by any fear to submit to an authoritarian central power base. It’s there for all to see. BN may attempt to gain some political mileage out of this but the nebulous spirit of ‘change’ or disgust of BN has too strong a grip.
Take this M Manoharan (left) tweet fiasco. Buried under his rather stupid not to mention racist tweets were some rather provocative musings on the nature of how sports in this country is managed. What it brought out was (predictably) the worse in Pakatan supporters and nauseating displays of so-called patriotism by both BN and Pakatan.
(For the record as far as Chong Wei’s achievement goes, I have always been partial to this May West quote “The score never interested me, only the game”, and Chong Wei did play a damn good game in my opinion.)
The fact that most people have ignored other stupid and honestly more damaging rhetoric emanating from Pakatan, or seem to be at ease with the way how Pakatan has handled the Islamic issue for instance, should tell Khairy that his strategy is not really working and that Umno’s belief that the bonds binding the opposition aren’t as tenuous as they believe. Racial sensitivity obviously isn’t a deal breaker as this regime would have us believe.
What Khairy is missing is that the opposition is merely playing a defensive game with the occasional well-timed haymaker corruption ‘allegations’ which knock the wind out of Umno sails.
Every time Umno goes on the offensive, like when Utusan screams that it is “haram” to support the DAP, all the opposition has to do is wait for the eventual fallout from Umno’s own strategic blunders. It must be very confusing to the rank-and-file Umnoputras when Pakatan holds a press conference mocking the religious credentials of the prime minister when it comes to the question of hudud, seeing as how former prime ministers have demurred from the hudud option. Incapable of change
It really doesn’t matter if Khairy thinks that there’s an impression out there that youths support the opposition. The reality is that a large section of the voting public does support the opposition and that their minds are made up.
And since Umno seems incapable of changing, the opposition and its supporters have never really been challenged to offer an alternative to Umno beyond offering a corruption-free utopia while tiptoeing around the Islamic issue. How exactly we are going to get this corruption-free Utopia since the body of Pakatan is filled with the guts of Umno has never really been explored.
Pakatan supporters take it on faith all the while ignoring the profound implications of a welfare state (when we have something like Article 153 in our constitution) that the Erdogans of PAS keep bandying about when they are not quibbling about the desire for an Islamic state by the hardliners.
The unanswered questions are numerous. Former CID director and newly-minted PAS member Fauzi Shaari (right) accurately describes one part of the problem of the subservience of the police force but ignores the deeper racial implications of the indoctrination that starts very early on and the racially-charged nexus between Chinese-dominated big business and Malay-dominated governmental corruption that seeps into the corridors of police power.
How Pakatan is going to handle something like this all the while introducing an element of meritocracy into a system predicated by racial preoccupations has never really been fully explored. A smart opponent would use this but as it is, Umno-BN is corruptly mired in their own power plays and failed policies.
As I have said before, I think the power-sharing racial formula is an odious concept but so far Pakatan has been doing a damn good job in giving the impression that it would redefine the concept when they get into a position of federal power. BN on the other hand, the alliance that should be doing the redefining if it wants to legitimately stay in power, is just wallowing in its own racialist filth.
The day will come when by attrition or maybe just plain luck, BN is replaced and what we would be left with is a ruling power without a credible opposition.
Only this time, unlike the stupid thinking of the past of a voter base that willingly smoked the BN crack pipe and mocked the opposition, it would be true because a vanquished BN has offered no evidence that it would make a credible opposition. This is your problem, Khairy, and not that the alternative media is censoring you or saying hurtful things about the regime you represent.
Of course, all this is beyond Khairy or even the ordinary disaffected voter. The march to defend or take over Putrajaya is all that matters. The inconvenient truth is that big dreams often amount to nothing more than pipe dreams if effort isn’t put into realising them. And I guess that’s my Merdeka slogan.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.