This blogger had an interesting phone conversation with an UMNO stalwart from Langkawi recently where I thought the discussion would invariably lead to a detailed discourse on who was his preferred or 'winnable' candidate. However, to my surprise, the discussion on this was kept brief when he declared:
Calon saya Najib! Yang sini ni tak kisah la. Yang saya tau, saya undi Najib!
I was struck by how such a simple statement had such great import and in one stroke encapsulates how the value of DS Najib's personal 'brand-building' to becoming quite a popular PM can actually be translated to votes in the ballot box! Basically, such a mindset at the polls may, at least in part, address the issue of BN having an unpopular or 'unwinnable' candidates or even sway those who like DS Najib but dislike BN or UMNO to still vote BN!
Suddenly, the very personalised campaigns such as I (heart) PM and his very strong association with 1Malaysia, including the inventiveness of having a Chinese name (Ah Jib Gor) becomes relevant. For of course, in a Parliamentary democracy, who the likely candidate for PM of a party would be is typically subsidiary to the popularity of the candidate for the contested Parliamentary seat. This is why despite DS Najib's popularity, there is much anticipation over the final candidates list for PRU13.
In the 2008 election, the removal of a majority of the local UMNO leaders from the ballot even led to sabotage voting by otherwise loyal party members. Certainly, Pak Lah's own lack of popularity further contributed to the demise of his replacement candidates. However, in the case of DS Najib, the opposite may be true. I have heard too often these days of people appreciating Najib whilst disliking their local BN leaders, so maybe this time it is the PM's popularity that will carry the ballot for BN!
Well, if the mantra Calon Saya Najib! Saya Undi Najib! or its like captures the imagination and 'goes viral', assuming Najib retains or indeed enhances his popularity during the campaign period, we may see BN within more than touching distance from the coveted 2/3 majority in Parliament. As of course, a vote for a BN MP is a vote for DS Najib as PM! And certainly Pakatan is in to shape to mount an equivalent challenge with their 'icon' being 'Papagomoed'!
I am of course talking about the votes for Parliament. The votes for the state governments would be another matter. Perhaps one state can pull it off though... Kedah... if BN uses Calon Saya Mukhriz! Saya Undi Mukhriz! as well!