The media (from both sides) has become such an instrumental tool in propagating negative politicking. In order to provide their masters with a greater political mileage, they are willing to put forth blatant lies and provide incomplete stories, so as to give their opponents a bad image.
Amin Ashari, The Malaysian Insider
During my Biro Tatanegara (BTN) course back in 2008, I remembered a session where we were given strips of paper with “politics”, “economy”, “education”, “religion” and “society” written on them.
Next, the facilitator handed five coins each carrying different values. We were asked to rank the strips using the values of the coins according to what we deem as the most important components of a nation in the context of Malaysia.
Most of us gave “education” the highest value since we believed that it is the core ingredient to produce able leaders and a responsible society. Some chose “economy”, since a strong financial backing will ensure Malaysia’s progress and allows the provision of better quality education.
Those who chose “religion” believed that it was the most fundamental aspect, similar to education. But none chose “politics” because as SPM graduates, we were too naïve to oversee its importance.
The BTN facilitator did not wrong us for the choices we made. He suggested that perhaps in America, it may be true that their economy drives their domestic and foreign policies, hence it becoming their most important component.
In the prophetic city of Madinah of old for instance, religion is perhaps its most valuable asset as is was set up based on the acceptance of Islam there in the first place.
But he posed a simple question, “In Malaysia, who has the power to control our economy, religion, education and society altogether?”
The room was silent as no one dared to open their mouths.
It was only then that I understood the importance of politics in Malaysia.
Partisan politics has its roots entrenched deep in the hearts of many Malaysians. Unfortunately, after 55 years of independence, political slandering, cheating, corruption and many more acts deemed as “sinful” has plagued politicians, supporters and observers alike.
But given the “enlightenment” I received during my BTN course, I refuse to accept such a negative perception over politics albeit the way it is played, often by the Machiavellian philosophy where “the end justify the means”.
In Malaysia, it is a fact that the “political game” has been played on the “home turf” of the present Barisan Nasional government for the last five decades. With the advantage of having a firm grip over the nation’s media, education system and their financial prowess, we are still among those countries in the developing world who have yet to see a regime change in the federal government ever since the day we decided to elect our leaders from the ballot box.
In the 2008 elections, the Opposition managed to pull together from their defeat in the previous General Election and united as Pakatan Rakyat. Since then, they have become formidable foes of Barisan Nasional.
However, let’s not forget that the players are still more or less the same so it is not a surprise that at the individual level, the game has not changed much where unhealthy politicking is still looming at large. Below are three inter-related examples which we see every day which:
1. The Blaming Game.
If you remember lyrics of the classic song, “Bangau Oh Bangau”, you can easily conclude that the blaming game will keep continuing, only until one takes a “pro-active” action by providing a solution instead of just passing on the blame to the next person or organization. (In the song, the snake was the one who took the initiative by eating the frog).
In reality, we find that it is so easy for some of us to simply blame, without following up their claims with valid evidences. The blaming game is a pre-requisite to further bad habits in Malaysian politics.
2. Personal slander and character assassination
Championing an issue is one thing. Unfortunately, some politicians, supporters and observers fail to recognize the boundaries between critiquing the matter in hand and making personal attacks of the personnel involved.
Prophet Muhammad taught us to hate the bad deed (for God’s sake), not the doer, because to err is human. But we are always quick to judge and become prejudiced over the wrong doing of others. S. Ambiga, Anwar Ibrahim, Najib Razak, Rosmah Mansor, Shahrizat Jalil are among the popular targets at the receiving end.
Well sometimes it understandable for you to vent the frustration with “naughty” remarks towards your attackers in your own ceramahs when you are being attacked 24-7 without the chance to defend yourself. (Despite this, it doesn’t mean doing so is the right thing, I only say it is “understandable”).
So it is really hard for us to find big-hearted politicians from both sides who could chastise themselves from falling into the pit of personal slandering. Sadly, it is so easy for some politicians, supporters and observers to become so indulged in personal attacks of their rivals that the more important issues are lost in their cloud of hatred.
3. Politicising everything
Some people forget to take their “political hats” off their heads as if it is glued to their hairs. I am not saying that we should forget about politics but please be mindful over when to put on your political hat and when to take it off.
The MP who made political remarks over Datuk Lee Chong Wei’s final Olympic match was just an example of such acts which indeed, happen every single day in our beloved Malaysia. Ironically, those who are the strongest critiques of the MP are the same people who forget to take off their own hats when they say that “this is what DAP is preaching (to) its MPs”. At least he issued an apology after realising what he did.
The media (from both sides) has become such an instrumental tool in propagating negative politicking. In order to provide their masters with a greater political mileage, they are willing to put forth blatant lies and provide incomplete stories, so as to give their opponents a bad image. Their mala fide actions provide their supporters a feel good sensation, also known as “syok sendiri” and trap innocent people to form inaccurate conclusions that would benefit their side.
Such the feat that this unpleasing nature of politics has resulted in…
• Some people having the pre-conceived idea that politics in general is always “dirty”.
• So because it is always like that, it is acceptable for those in the game to play it as it has always been played ― the “dirty” way.
• Those who want to play “clean” would find it impossible to compete because they are not playing on an even grounds.
• Some people choose not to have to do anything with it as there are many more beneficial, less stressful things to do.
• Incompetent people leading and making decisions that could put our nation in jeopardy.