Words and Images–Anwar’s Potent Combination

October 22, 2012

Words and Images–Anwar’s Potent Combination

by Terence Netto@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: If it’s true that an image is worth a thousand words, then Anwar Ibrahim’s tethering of appropriate images to arresting words on the campaign trail these days must rank as a mix more potent than were the searing ‘black eye’ still from the 10th,  and the sensational Lingam tape of the 12th general elections, by themselves images of seismic force in those particular campaigns.

In an image-saturated age, it must come as no surprise that the Bee Gees’ haunting rendition of 1968 that “It’s only words and words are all I have to take your heart away” is not going to be enough to take the Piped Piper of political reform in Malaysia across the finishing line of the 13th general election in pole position.

It has to be electioneering of not just verbal eloquence – of which he is the savviest exponent among his peers – but also of vivid imagery, guaranteed by a career singular in the way it had drawn the melodramatic ire of adversaries to drive the Pakatan Rakyat supremo to the top of the greasy pole.

The potency of this new mix in the arsenal of the opposition leader can be gauged from the reaction of a large crowd at the Sutera Mall in Skudai, Johor Baru, on Saturday night, where it was displayed to good effect.

Anwar was trying to get the message across that the coalition he leads had not just the content but also the capability to save the country from the mess that UMNO-BN has inflicted on it.

NONE“They lob anything they can grab at us but when you challenge them to explain themselves and to debate the point they are trying to make, they back off,” said the PKR adviser.

“Just watch this from a recent session in Parliament,” said Anwar, as campaign aides projected on to huge video screens set up to the left and right of the stage from which he was speaking. This was footage from a speech he had made in the chamber recently, during which he was interrupted by jeers of “3 billion, 3 billion” from BN backbenchers.

The footage showed Anwar reacting to the raillery by informing the Parliament speaker he would sit down to give way to his barrackers to hold forth on the subject of their derision.

Ostensibly, the “3 billion” was a reference to an accusation hurled at Anwar during the height of the financial crisis in 1998-99 that followed his sacking from party and government.

He had been accused by a top Bank Negara officer of having, as Finance Minister, salted away RM3 billion in bank accounts locally and abroad. Anwar denied the accusation and, at one subsequent time, the same officer was on record as having renounced the accusation.

The matter was recently resuscitated by the UMNO-owned press and the party’s backbenchers who raised the derisive chant in Parliament when Anwar rose to speak on the Budget.

Winds of change being felt

In mid-speech, Anwar stopped and said he would sit to make way for any among the jeering throng to substantiate their allegations. There were no takers. The jeering abruptly waned and the speaker importuned Anwar to resume his speech.

Anwar’s point about the inanity of BN parliamentarians and the bankruptcy of the government they prop up could not have had a more graphic exposition.

Telling the crowd at Skudai that the winds of change that had swept large swaths of the country, except Borneo and Johor, at the last general election in 2008 were now being felt in Sabah, he cued his aides to project images of the crowds he drew on a trip to Sabah a week ago.

NONEThe screens lit up with panoramic views of the three stops in which overflow crowds turned up to listen to him.

There was a palpable intake of breath as the gathering at Skudai imbibed what the pictorial evidence of crowd response to Anwar’s recent tour of Sabah imported.

When he then drove home the point that UMNO-BN’s “fixed deposit” of support it had often garnered from Sabah, Sarawak and Johor was in for severe buffeting at the upcoming polls, the crowd visibly thrilled to his hypothesis.

“We expect to win a third of the parliamentary seats in Johor,” said Anwar, to shouts from the crowd that suggested his projections were not unrealistic.

Johor, a hitherto invulnerable UMNO-BN bastion, has 26 federal seats, of which only one was won by the opposition at the last general election (Bakri, by DAP).

Since then a swarm of resentments, ranging from the corporatisation of Felda and issues arising from the appropriation of land, fishing and burial grounds for the huge Petronas oil and gas project being planned for Pengerang in Johor, has roiled the feelings of Johoreans.

Popular discontent that has swirled over these controversies is thought to have eroded support for BN in its frontline state.

Large attendances at Pakatan-organised gatherings in Johor in past months are regarded as confirmation that attrition in support for BN has indeed occurred.

This has prompted Pakatan’s drum major to mix oratory with imagery to put the skids under UMNO-BN ahead of the 13th general election.

11 thoughts on “Words and Images–Anwar’s Potent Combination

  1. Words have been spoken, images have been created and reinforced by more words. For both sides of political divide, it is time for action. As citizens we are no longer going to be satisfied with promises made by politicians. We have to judge them by their actions. We are in a political crisis and we require bold, honest and accountable leadership to get us out of lousy governance. There seems to be little difference between Najib and Anwar. –Din Merican

  2. Anwar is beyond compare when it comes to political acting and to being a convincing salesman of his ideas. His oratory excellence is well known since his student days and now, as reported by Netto, he is strengthening it with the aid of audio-visual instrumentation. Hope BN will not ape this strategy of using audio-visual material which the BN surely have plenty in store.

    Najib should have a debate with him, irrespective of any apparent oratory inequality, as the substance & content of the debate will count more. Have a mutually agreed SOP on the procedures of the debate sorted out prior to the event and publicise it beforehand so that the audience can see if any party were to go against the established SOP. The Rakyat will look forward to that.

  3. What nonsense are you talking about Hussin? Malaysians do not go to the polls to choose their prime minister as we do over here wiht the U.S. President, but the party to govern the country in the next four years.

  4. For once Dear Hussin,you make sense,have the debate,win or lose,we the people are much smarter than you take us for, and we can carry on with whoever we chose to govern us come GE13,just accept the fact that it’s the might of the Vote & I pray ( wishful thinking) that they exist little rigging on EC’s part (heee3…I Know wishful thinking again).Oouch!!!

  5. the little difference between the both is, one is the unelected prime minister wielding power who has the whole government machinery behind him and the other is the opposition leader prosecuted and persecuted regularly by the current regime. it is the onus of the prime minister to show leadership quality or else call for election. campaigning for his party, distributing goodies to voters and badmouthing the opposition doesn’t qualify as running the government. he seems to have the Midas Touch everything he touches turns cold.
    debate with Anwar? – my foot, I’ll bet Jibs will bring along the ‘holy book’ to swear on it, for everything he says!

  6. Dato, I beg to differ,

    There is a world of difference between anwar and najib – a world of difference. The years in prison solidify that difference. When forced to chose between being a yesman or prison term, anwar chose the latter and for all that trouble (lost just about everything, from pension to just about every worldly thing) his place in history has been engraved (regardless of whatever the outcome of GE13 – future law student & lecturer &judges, how will his trial be used as a reference?) Anwar fears not his shadows. Alas, the same cannot be said of Najib.

    I am sorry but your wishful thinking will be just that – Najib will never come to the front, he leads from the back!!! Look no further – (and I am totally disgusted with this) the fact that Najib does not wish to defend his own budget (he is the fin minister) in parliament !! Totally spineless. Oratory is one thing but it not the only thing that dictates a debate. And contrary to popular belief, Anwar does not solely depend on that parameter – if you wanna beat him in a debate, use facts but the thing is Najib can’t tell the difference between fact & fiction and he knows this (and I guess, just about everyone too, heheh)

    There is another thing i have noticed based on the numerous debates done by Sinar (syabas) and it is very glaring… UMNO rep simply chokes whenever there is a 2 way communication discussion (there are exception but it is a rarity i.e. the Temerloh MP, he did rather well facing Sallehudin but the rest was crap)

  7. There seems to be little difference between Najib and Anwar . – by Din Merican @ 4.41pm , oct 22nd 2012.
    Really? One must be wearing blinkers to say that there is no difference between the two.
    Since you are so smart and not blinkered, tell me what is the difference between the two. Both offer goodies to win votes.–Din Merican

  8. Mr. reeperbahn, Malaysians do not elect (directly) their PM, as correctly pointed out by Mr. Bean. And Mr. Lok1, that remark from Mr. Bean on my commentary probably implies there is no need for that debate which Anwar will certainly win at least in theatrical performance even without audio-visual aids.

  9. Mr. Hussin, its the same situation because they are the front runners for their respective parties. umno has the best chances to win with Najib than with Mr. Moo.
    Pakatan has the best chances with Anwar as the lead horse.
    wouldn’t it be hilarious if we were to have a debate between Umno-BN and PR?
    who would be the umpire?
    it is not wrong to adopt practices which are beneficial for the society from the West.

  10. Dato’ Din, with reference to your “challenge” to Ms. Salmiah Hassan, if the debate between Najib & Anwar were to take place, we will see the many differences between the two but some hold the view that the debate is not necessary as the PM is not directly elected by the people unlike the US President.

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