January 16, 2013
Malaysians, Lend Me Your Ears
by Neil Khor*@http://www.malaysiakini.com
COMMENT Just as some Malaysians were receiving rebates to buy smartphones, book vouchers and special allocations that the Deputy Prime Minister hinted would be a permanent fixture if the ruling party wins the upcoming general election, out come BN supporters turning all that feel good factor into a series of public relations (PR) disasters.
Top on the agenda is Ms Listen, Listen, Listen. It has been some twenty years since I was an undergraduate at Universiti Malaya and I must say that never in our wildest dreams did we expect to be treated so badly by guest speakers. I am not sure what sort of a degree Ms Listen has or where she studied, but she definitely needs to go to finishing school.
As the more matured and learned individual, Ms Listen should have rationally and calmly challenged her opponent to think differently. When will the Ms Listens of the world ever learn their lesson?
Persuasion is far more effective in the long run than brash attacks. It is not KS Bawani’s mind that she has to alter but the 2,000 students in the hall that she could have persuaded to see things from her point of view.
Instead, she compared genuine problems that Malaysians face each day with that of animals. In her attempt to belittle Bawani, she revealed how shallow she was and perhaps most tragically, she did a terrible disservice to the ruling coalition that she sought to serve. No wonder a BN Youth leader quickly distanced the BN from her, and KIMMA, the Indian Muslim organisation, disassociated itself from its former member.
Whilst Ms Listen is obviously not particularly savvy and perhaps not very polished, another rambling figure that has brought low the BN in the eyes of Malaysians is former DAP Vice-Chairperson Tunku Aziz Tunku Ibrahim (right).
In an apparent attack at the DAP’s Zairil Khir Johari, whom some six months ago was his party colleague, Tunku Aziz resorted to a personal below-the-belt attack.
There is nothing wrong with falling out with a political party that one joined on one’s own free will. The constitution guarantees freedom of association, so Tunku Aziz, a prince from Kedah, has every right to disassociate himself from the DAP.
It is also the right of every citizen to mount a very public campaign to explain the reasons why the political platform one joined no longer works. The scales having fallen from one’s eyes, one is no longer able to tolerate the weaknesses of the party. As this is a political party, it is important that other citizens should know about these weaknesses so that they can make an informed decision come the 13th general election.
In fact, one also has the right to take to the public platform to warn Malaysians about the danger to Malaysia should such a party ever come to power. One can channel these ideas through public rallies, workshops, through different mediums and, if necessary, through very public attacks. As they say, if one cannot take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Tunku Aziz as a very senior and respected Malaysian has exercised his right to criticise the DAP. He has done this at many platforms and has put forward his reasons why he left the party that once nominated him to be a senator and a vice president.
Hitting a new low
But to resort to questioning Zairil Khir Johari’s paternity, to call into question his relationship with his late father and to expose the much younger man to public opprobrium is not very gentlemanly. By taking this step, Tunku Aziz has hit a new low and has not done his new cause any service. That he insulted Zairil to prove a point that the DAP is a party where ‘real’ Malays have no place in is very much like Ms Listen taking on an undergraduate.
Using a sledgehammer to kill a fly reveals a certain degree of baseness of character. In normal parlance, both Ms Listen and Tunku Aziz come out of this very bad situation of their own doing very poorly indeed. It is such a shame that Tunku Aziz will not be remembered for his fearlessness in his anti-corruption campaigns, but for this increasingly bitter and ungentlemanly behaviour towards those still wet behind their ears.
Ms Listen said to Bawani that all Malaysians know that we must respect those who are older or better qualified than us. I am sure Bawani, a law student who has enough capacity to understand the frailty of human know, knows that respect is earned. A person may be as old as the hills but behave so badly that he does not deserve respect.
Similarly, paper qualifications do not make a person more worthy of respect if all those degrees do not translate into an educated and civilised mind.
So, what have Malaysians been doing after they come across these two cases? Some went on Facebook to highlight their reactions whilst others are beginning to think twice about how they will vote come GE13. Ironically, it will be the very same smartphones that the government subsidises that will be used to highlight these two issues and many more to help fence-sitters make up their minds.
Ultimately, the BN knows that it needs to win the next GE not only by capturing rural seats. It has to win convincingly in the cities and peri-urban areas if it is to have any legitimacy at all in a country that since 2012 is 70 percent urban! Both Ms Listen and Tunku Aziz have just made that goal very much harder to achieve and we’re not even officially campaigning yet!
*NEIL KHOR completed his PhD at Cambridge University and now writes occasionally on matters that he thinks require better historical treatment. He is quietly optimistic about Malaysia’s future