Malaysia Today, Anwar Ibrahim, and PKR no longer relevant

Anwar was not exactly a perfect candidate for prime minister even back in 1998. As far as abuse of power and corruption was concerned, he was as bad as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Daim Zainuddin. But he was the only Umno leader (and the Deputy Prime Minister on top of that) who dared oppose Mahathir and Umno.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malaysia Today was 17 years old last month. In essence, however, Malaysia Today is 25 years old. In 1996, I started “Raja Petra’s Homepage”, which was changed to “Free Anwar Campaign” (FAC) in 2000, and then to “Malaysia Today” on 13th August 2004.

Since the government and the Prime Minister changed, yet again, three weeks ago, I have been mulling over whether Malaysia Today is still relevant and is still needed. I mean, 31 years is a long time to write (and I have been writing since 1990 when many of you were not yet born) and I am turning 71 later this month.

When I started “Raja Petra’s Homepage” in 1996, that was before the Reformasi explosion in 1998 (which triggered the birth of hundreds of anti-government websites). At that time there were only 280,000 internet users in Malaysia (compared to 26 million today) and the main players were Jeff Ooi and MGG Pillai. All the news portals such as Malaysiakini, and so on, did not exist yet. Hence there was a need for “citizen journalists”. Even Facebook (formed 2004) and Twitter (formed 2006) were unknown. So we had to use Yahoo Groups (formed 1994).

There was a need, then, to provide “private news” or non-government-controlled news to the public. And other than the handful of us, there was no one else. Today, the internet or social media is flooded with postings. Zahid Hamidi’s daughter, Dr Mahathir’s daughter, Muhyiddin Yassin’s daughter, Ambiga, Siti Kasim — in fact, probably 20 million Malaysians are posting their views on the internet.

Malaysia Today (or Raja Petra’s Homepage) may have been amongst the handful of pioneers in the mid-1990s offering a platform for the public to post their opinions — even before Malaysiakini, Facebook and Twitter were born. However, since then, Malaysia Today has outlived its usefulness. Malaysia Today is just another website or “page” amongst millions doing the same job and performing the same function.

Change or die 

I need to accept the fact that Malaysia Today is no longer relevant in this new environment. In the UK, 50 retail shops close every day while more than 2,000 pubs-restaurants close every year. This is because of the changes in buying habits where online sales and takeaway-delivery is how British do their shopping today. Even the “giants” are closing because they are no longer relevant.

Banks are closing branches because people now use apps for their banking. It has been years since I have walked into a bank. Times have changed and the way we do business has also changed.

This phenomenon does not apply to only banking, retail sales, the food industry, news dissemination, and so on. It also applies to politics, politicians, and political parties. Times have changed, as have values and priorities. Unless politicians and political parties change their style of politics as well, they would become irrelevant and would be left behind.

PAS and DAP are relevant as long as both exist as opposites

DAP caters to the unhappy Malaysian Chinese, so they will also have a market because Malaysian Chinese are perpetually unhappy. PAS caters to the Islamist, so they, too, will always have a market. In fact, in a way, DAP and PAS complement each other. They are both at the opposite (or maybe even extreme) ends of the scale. So, PAS is relevant as long as DAP exists, and vice versa.

The problem would be for Umno, Bersatu, PKR and Amanah. Which market are they serving?

Umno is a product of Malay nationalism. But then, are Malays still nationalistic like at the time of our grandfathers or great grandfathers 75 years ago? The modern Malay has different values from the Malays of WWII. Would today’s Malay share the values of the Malays of British Malaya?

Bersatu (PPBM) was born out of necessity. It was to give a “home” to those who opposed Najib Tun Razak regarding the 1MDB fiasco. That is all now water under the bridge. So does Malaysia still need Bersatu?

PKR is in an even worse dilemma. It was a party set up to make Anwar Ibrahim the Fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia. It is now 23 years and Malaysia has the Ninth Prime Minister — and it looks like Anwar may not even be the Tenth Prime Minister. So what is PKR for?

Bersatu has to be more aggressive or else it will end up like Semangat 46

Anwar was not exactly a perfect candidate for prime minister even back in 1998. As far as abuse of power and corruption was concerned, he was as bad as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Daim Zainuddin. But he was the only Umno leader (and the Deputy Prime Minister on top of that) who dared oppose Mahathir and Umno.

So, people supported Anwar, not because he was the best, but because he happened to be the only one. Even DAP and PAS, who had nothing nice to say about Anwar back in 1998, supported him. I mean, if you don’t have a horse, then even a donkey will do. And Anwar was the opposition’s donkey to oppose the government.

The opposition did the same in 2018 as well when they supported Mahathir as their “donkey” to oppose Najib and the Barisan Nasional government. It is not that they loved Mahathir and thought he was a great man. He was just a useful tool to bring down the government, after which they tried to get rid of him as well, resulting in the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government.

Bersatu needs to adopt the Avis marketing strategy

So, who needs Anwar Ibrahim and PKR (unless you believe Malaysia under Anwar as PM10 will be greater than China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan combined)? Malaysia needs Anwar and PKR for a better future? If you believe that then you believe in Santa and the tooth fairy. Malaysia under Anwar as PM10 will be sent back to the dark ages.

Umno, Bersatu, PKR and Amanah need to do some soul searching. What are they offering Malaysians? What they used to offer Malaysians are all outdated products and concepts. Malaysians now live in a different era. Umno, Bersatu, PKR and Amanah are no longer relevant unless they change their product lines and marketing strategy. And Bersatu, the new kid on the block, will have to try harder, as Avis would say.

Go online: the new trend in sales and marketing