Loyalty, like goodwill, has a shelf-life and expiry date


The Pakatuns and DAPsters expect us to remain loyal to them in spite of how much they have disappointed us. But then loyalty cannot be demanded, it needs to be earned. Loyalty is a two-way street, both parties must be loyal to one other. Loyalty is not forever, it has s shelf-life and a ‘use-by’ date. And this is what Najib understands and what the opposition does not understand.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Two days ago we spoke about the shelf-life and expiry date of goodwill in the article ‘Mahathir has outlived his goodwill’ (READ HERE). In that article we said:

Mahathir was Malaysia’s longest-serving PM. And that, of course, brings with it a tremendous amount of goodwill. But goodwill, like all things, has a shelf-life and expiry date. And if you misuse or abuse that goodwill it erodes and gets devalued even faster. And that is what has happened to Mahathir today. Mahathir, however, does not realise this and acts like he still has what he had back in 2003 when he retired as PM.

Goodwill can actually increase in value or it will get devalued depending on how you manage that goodwill. For example, after retiring as Prime Minister on 31st October 2003, had Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gone on to become, say, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and had he, say, been the first UN Sec-Gen in history to successfully broker peace in the Middle East, his goodwill would have increased multifold.

I mean there is nothing wrong in buying the goodwill of the McDonald’s or Coca-cola name for, say US$100 billion, if that is what it is worth. But then that becomes a very valuable asset and you need to protect that asset and build upon its value to so that it does not erode in value to US50 billion and if you decide to sell it later it can be worth more than US$100 billion.

And the same applies regarding the goodwill of your name if you have spent the last 50 or 60 years building up the goodwill of your name like Mahathir and Lim Kit Siang have. Today, though, I want to talk about another very valuable intangible asset. And that asset is loyalty.

If, say, you had a database of 10 million loyal subscribers, that is an asset and is worth a lot of money. Companies in the same business as yours will want to buy your company for its 10 million loyal subscribers database. Even if you value each subscriber as RM10, your company can go for RM100 million just for your database alone. In other words, the acquirer would be buying your 10 million loyal followers.

That is why companies promote ‘loyalty programmes’. If you come back again you can get special privileges, discounts, memberships, etc. Even free internet, free use of the VIP lounge, room upgrades, and so on, are good enough to keep people’s loyalty and make them come back to you and not walk across to your competitor.

I tell my children that I am not impressed by how many customers came to the family restaurant tonight but how many of them were repeat customers and customers who had been coming again and again since more than a year. We need loyal customers and hence we need to come out with ideas on how to keep them loyal.

Loyalty, like goodwill, has a shelf-life and expiry date. And if you do not know how to retain the loyalty of your customers, buyers or followers, then you risk losing them. And loyalty, like goodwill, is an asset and has value. And if you do not know how to protect your asset and maintain its value then you risk losing it. And the same allies to politics as well.

Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan (before this Pakatan Rakyat and before that in 1999 Barisan Alternatif) always take its members, supporters and voters for granted. They assume that loyalty, once acquired, is yours forever and will never go away. Even loyalty to your spouse is not forever if you do not look after it. For example, if you sleep around, then do not expect your spouse to remain loyal to you. He or she will also jump into bed with another person or persons.

Barisan Nasional is not so bad. They know they need to work hard to win and retain the loyalty of Malaysians. Pakatan Harapan, however, regards loyalty as their god-given right. If you are an honest person, a decent human being, a patriotic Malaysian, etc., then it is your duty to become loyal and remain loyal to Pakatan Harapan. If you are loyal to Barisan Nasional then you are a crook, corrupt, a racist, dedak-eater, and more.

Pakatan Harapan accuses Barisan Nasional of buying loyalty. Even Mahathir says Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak uses money to buy the support of Malaysians. Does Pakatan Harapan not also buy Malaysians? Pakatan Harapan buys Malaysians by using intimidation, harassment, verbal abuse, and all sorts of other underhanded methods. If you do not support Pakatan Harapan then they will make life very unpleasant for you.

And this is the role of the Pakatun and DAPster cyber-troopers. They are like the ‘enforcers’ who ‘persuade’ you to contribute to the cause to avoid the risk of being fire-bombed. It is like what the Chinese told me in 1999: ‘many of us support the opposition but we sill still vote Barisan Nasional to avoid trouble’. Yes, and that was how Mahathir ensured that the Chinese remained loyal to the Umno-led Barisan Nasional even if they hate Umno.

In the old days the Christians would ensure you remained ‘loyal’ through threats of death, just like what the Muslims in some countries are doing today — stay loyal or die. But those methods cannot be applied today, especially in Malaysia — whether it be politics or religion. You cannot force loyalty. You need to earn loyalty. And you need to work hard to keep that loyalty. And the faster that Pakatan Harapan learns and understands this the better, because Najib knows this and he knows what he needs to do to earn and retain the loyalty of Malaysians.

Take my case as one example. In 1999, I was loyal to Barisan Alternatif because PAS was part of the opposition coalition (and not because of DAP). In 2004 (after DAP left the opposition coalition), I campaigned in the Putrajaya parliamentary constituency for Abdul Rahman Othman (and not for Barisan Alternatif). Putrajaya was a PAS seat and PAS endorsed Rahman to contest that seat although he was the Deputy President of PKR. Abdul Hadi Awang even went to Putrajaya (at my invitation) to help Rahman campaign.

In 2006, I joined Mahathir to campaign against Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi — more or less enemies united by a common cause. And Anwar Ibrahim and Azmin Ali were very angry with me for ‘uniting’ with Mahathir against Abdullah. In 2007, I joined the Bersih movement (before it got hijacked by Anwar), which was basically a fight for free and fair elections. In 2008, I joined the Barisan Rakyat movement (before DAP, PKR and PAS formed Pakatan Rakyat) to fight for a two-party system in Malaysia — so that we can have a strong opposition to keep Barisan Nasional in check and on the straight and narrow.

Many see all these different moves as me not being loyal to the opposition. Why the hell should I be loyal to the opposition when the opposition is not loyal to me? Have they earned my loyalty? Must I be loyal to them just because they happen to be the opposition? I am loyal to the cause. I do what I need to do and work with whoever I need to work with to further the cause. That is what drives me and that is what I have been doing since way back when I started 40 years ago in 1977.

I saw hope in 1999 that the first Malaysian opposition coalition can be the platform to further the cause. But when DAP left Barisan Alternatif two years later in 2001 (because Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh lost their seats), I knew that the opposition coalition cannot deliver the goods. And the 2004 general election proved that.

When they tried again in the 2008 general election, I thought we should give them a second chance and see what happens. Two years later in 2010 (it always happens two years later), they buat perangai again. Twice, once in 1999 and again in 2008, we gave the opposition our loyalty. But they did not remain loyal to us. So they no longer have our loyalty as well, at least not my loyalty as far as I am concerned.

Of course, the Pakatuns and DAPsters expect us to remain loyal to them in spite of how much they have disappointed us. But then loyalty cannot be demanded, it needs to be earned. Loyalty is a two-way street, both parties must be loyal to one other. Loyalty is not forever, it has s shelf-life and a ‘use-by’ date. And this is what Najib understands and what the opposition does not understand.