I have always maintained the view that Barisan Nasional especially UMNO as the leading component party has only had itself to blame for the loses of PRU12 and the political set-backs of the last decade or so since Tun Dr M 'retired'. The 'Shamsidar' rally some months ago demonstrated the sum strength of a DS Anwar Ibrahim led Pakatan Rakyat... it was pathetic as a supposed 'challenger' to BN.
Nevertheless, the fear of losing the election had persisted across the last 2 years in particular, when it should not have, with BN regaining its confidence at by-elections and Pakatan's failings becoming more apperent. One cannot recall a single substantial period of sustained strengthening of BN's position, with too much reliance of the PM's own industry and apparent sheer force of will, assisted only by his loyal Deputy and sightings of his mentor, Tun Dr M.
In hindsight, that DS Najib chose to wait till the end of the term to call PRU13 was strategically the right decision as an earlier election would certainly have provided Pakatan with too delicious a choice of postponing the elections for the State Assemblies they control. Nonetheless, the popular belief as to why the delay occured was BN's fear of losing linked to a variety of so called 'incidents'.
With the significant dates of PRU13 now announced, a similar pattern will emerge as it did some 5 years ago. Pakatan Rakyat, with its continued lack of credibility beyond a scattering of local successes in Penang and Selangor, will return to its tried and tested weapon of discreditting BN with accusations of 'corruption'. The question now is, will BN fall into the trap of making it too easy for this message to be taken as the principle issue by the electorate?
This blogger's father-in-law in fact made a pointed argument just yesterday when he asked,"Is Corruption Enough?" He asked this question referring to this continued focus by Pakatan Rakyat on the matter. And as we mulled over it, certainly it would be enough if BN makes the mistake of presenting 'Icons of Corruption', be they local or national, as candidates for this election. Whilst putting forward 'winnable candidates' in a local context, DS Najib and his team must take not to encorse 'Icons of Corruption' at the national level.
In one case at least, an Icon of Corruption has taken herself out of contention, but then makes herself more dangerous to BN! The self-withdrawal of DS Shahrizat Jalil from being a candidate is certainly welcome news, tempered by the knowldege that she didn't have a seat to contest anyway (with DS Raja Nong Chik taking over the candidacy of Pantai Dalam and her not having any other option). However, her idea of then spending the time campaigining around the country could spell disaster for BN!
Imagine what would happen if DS Shahrizat campaigns for at least every Wanita candidate. Wherever she makes an appearance, she would remind voters of the NFC scandal. No matter whether there is guilt on her part or her husband, in the court of public opinion, DS Shahrizat is an Icon of Corruption. So, when she stands with the BN candidate in front of voters, will voters be impressed or put-off from voting the Wanita BN candidate who is apparently supported by Shahrizat the Icon of Corruption?
And so in this manner, BN finds its so called 'leaders' simply helping Pakatan Rakyat spread its message of fear and loathing towards BN's apparent corruption! Such a scene would be reminiscent of KJ's convoy of Black Harriers in PRU12 that wreaked such havoc across the BN lines. I recall one BN candidate in Kelantan saying he was actually swinging the votes towards him until KJ's convoy arroved and KJ declared his 'interest' in the candidate winning! The candidate never recovered from KJ's 'contribution' then...
A few days ago, I saw the news that even KJ, THE Icon of Corruption, is planning not to contest. The cynics among us of course believe this is just him 'playing politics' as there is a likelihood he is to be dropped from the list due to his 'Iconic' status. However, even then, I had my concerns over whether he would cause more damage if he did not contest... the way he did before, and the way DS Shahrizat will likely do if she hits the campaign trail.
Pakatan's campaign will focus on FEAR. Fear of Corruption encroaching further into Malaysia's government and its works, damaging our future prospects and turning us into a society that dispises itself. Fear is infectious and deadly, and this weapon could well turn deadly for BN in PRU13 if it allows its corrupt leaders to spread it. Interestingly, the best counter to Fear among the young is Hope. Hope gives courage to young to counter fear.
It is leaders that can carry that message of Hope that BN needs, both as its candidates and among its campaigners as champions against the Fear-mongering of Pakatan Rakyat this PRU13. Certainly the Icons of Corruption in BN are the WRONG people to talk of BN's manifesto of Hope! If the BN leadership allow these characters to do so, it would be tantamount to helping Pakatan Rakyat again, with the lessons of PRU12 remaining unlearned.