August 8, 2018
by Abdul Rahmat Omar
I remember a quote that is credited to the late Maya Angelou – “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This has a lot to do with the title I chose for this commentary as it addresses both sides of the political divide.
The recent by-election in Sungai Kandis is a good example to portray Maya Angelou’s quote.
Slightly more than half did not turn up to vote. Proportionately, the percentage of support shown for Pakatan Harapan had gone down by 36 percent while the support for the Barisan Nasional went down by half that number: 17 percent.
Pakatan’s majority was reduced by 53 percent. The number of votes cast went down from 85.57 percent to just 49.4 percent making it the worst turnout in the history of Malaysian elections.
And this by-election was held on a Saturday – a day when everyone inside and outside of Selangor are on holiday. This goes to show that while voters are tired of Pakatan’s consistence in reneging on election promises, their trust in BN has not improved either.
Without wanting to sound impertinent, Barisan Nasional’s folly was probably to have former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak joining the campaign trail.
I was told by former senior government servants as well as friends who are voters in that constituency that not all voters have forgiven Najib whatever the explanation may be and that his foray in Sungai Kandis could jeopardise BN’s chances.
It is without doubt that as Prime Minister, he did a lot to help the common people, but as long as he has not cleared his name he should not be seen as the leader of the BN.
Whether his supporters like it or not, all the photos shown on mainstream media gave the impression that he still leads BN and wherever he went, he stole the limelight from the candidate and BN leadership.
Barisan Nasional supporters simply have to remember that he is now just a division leader without any post in the central committee.
The wounds are still fresh, and until he has cleared his name in a court of law, he will always be seen as the cause of voters turning away from the BN.
People have not forgotten how they felt when they voted to bring the BN down so that Najib could be removed.
Barisan Nasional also has to remember that they cannot go it alone and that Parti Islam SeMalaysia (Pas) has to be roped in in order to cause considerable damage to Pakatan. Like it or not, Pas was the backbone of all the Bersih rallies.
Without Pas, Bersih is nothing. And it won’t be the first time that both BN and Pas have worked together. A better understanding and cooperation needs to be formulated.
The good thing seen from the results is that the voters now realise that Pakatan will never walk the walk and is all about talk the talk.
Despite claims that Najib and the BN are the culprits that have brought about the “miserable” economic condition, all Pakatan has done is to do endless U-turns and rebrand all of Najib’s efforts and have allowed almost all the allegedly wasteful iconic projects to proceed.
The ones that have not been given the green light are being subjected to ‘continual review’. This only goes to show the voters that Pakatan’s claims about Najib and the BN were all apocryphal.
Ridiculous policies such as the imminent introduction of a third national car project has caused Pakatan supporters to vent out in anger on Facebook.
Hopes are being dashed.
In a neighbouring constituency, I see Pakatan supporters now flocking to Barisan Nasional service centres to seek help. It seems that they rued the day they voted their previous assemblymen out.
Their Pakatan representatives are seen as nothing but snollygosters and trumpery.
Given all that, Barisan Nasional still has not gotten its act together.
I still do not see an effective Opposition front be it inside or outside the Parliament. There are still no nightly ceramahs as you would see coming from the Pakatan side the day after the any general election.
If anything is to happen, BN must also be prepared to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Until that happens, the BN is still the opposition that thinks that it is still the government and Pakatan the government that still thinks that it is the opposition.