Commentary Politics

Individual failures drag down party in battle of perception

Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor

Shahrum Sayuthi
Written by Shahrum Sayuthi
May 18 2017
As the next general election draws nearer, leaders of political parties and prospective electoral candidates naturally want to appear being as people-friendly as possible.
An election is after all a contest of winning the hearts and minds of the people. 
Therefore, projecting a positive image is not only crucial for the respective individuals, but also for the parties that they represent.
It is not good enough for a leader or an electoral candidate to be popular in his own locality because he also needs to make sure that his conduct and manners are good for his party at the national level.
That, or at the very least, he must ensure that he does not become a liability to his party by behaving properly.
A wakil rakyat  may have no problem winning in his constituency where he is a popular local figure, but his party may likely suffer if he chooses to be abrasive and arrogant towards others, who are not his constituents.
For instance, a member of parliament who publicly cracked a gender-bias joke which is considered harmless in his constituency may nonetheless cause quite considerable damage to his party’s image among the general populace.
It would be even worse in instances where leaders behave in seemingly outright arrogance in public.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng is one of those who had been faulted for his seemingly less than pleasing image after several runs-in with members of the media.
His infamous clashes with members of the Chinese media may likely to a certain extent erode DAP’s dominance over its main Chinese community support base that still has high regards for the journalists among them.  
Despite Lim’s probably immense popularity in Penang where he serves as Chief Minister, incidences such as when he threatened to sue journalists who dared to be critical of him would most likely lead many to believe that DAP is  actually an intolerant party and should not be voted to power.
The ruling Barisan Nasional also has to bear with some of its leaders who from time to time behaved rather inappropriately, causing the public to loath not only them in person but also the parties they represent.
For example, many would probably not be pleased by the response given by Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor in this video clip by Astro Awani, 
Adnan, who is also the Umno secretary-general does not appear in the video to be patient enough to explain the controversies surrounding the Rimba Kiara Park issue when pressed with a hard question.
He should have maintained his composure and avoided being seen as losing his temper under pressure because it could led the public into assuming that he is actually a rude person and intolerant of criticisms.
To avoid such a bad perception is crucial as Adnan’s very important posts in Umno and the BN government actually made him an important ”face” of his party and the ruling coalition.
With the social media now undoubtedly the most popular source of information, video clips such as that featuring Adnan in not his best form could easily damage not only the highlighted person but also the organisation that the person represents.
As the battle of perception further heats up in the coming months leading to the next general election, it is incumbent for those hopeful of winning in the polls to bear in mind that the public, who hold the desired votes are closely scrutinising their every word and action. 



About the author

Shahrum Sayuthi

Shahrum Sayuthi