Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The KT By-Election: A quasi-national plebiscite on Pak Lah or Najib ... or just a local Oghang Teganung affair?

Was the KT by-election a people’s plebiscite on Pak Lah?

Was the loss the final validation of Pak Lah’s inability to lead and inspire a disillusioned and embittered populace, the lame duck PM who could not draw, let alone mesmerize, the rakyat towards the BN coalition in spite of the boundless resources – media, economic, logistical, administrative, statutory – at the coalition’s disposal?

Adooi ..... apa lagi depa mau?

Or was it a referendum on Najib?

Was KT an indicator of Najib’s inability to lead and enthuse the rakyat, in spite of the avalanche of pork barrel projects at his disposal under t
he glossy façade of the ECER? Does Najib have what it takes? Is he really leadership material? Some say he has the charisma of a soggy popiah and is not a natural orator. I don't know about charismatic springrolls, but he does seem to mimic the primal call of a constipated tapir on stage, with his tendency to embellish his speeches with an irritating, whining sound.

Would you buy a Used Car from this man? Yeah, why not?

Leadership and oratory deficiencies notwithstanding, was KT really determined by Pak Lah or Najib?

Or perhaps, KT was won through the sheer brilliance of the Pakatan Rakyat, led by their whizkid strategists from the West Coast that must have mesmerised the Oghang Teganung and swept KT into the PR fold in a monsoonal wave of political awakening and social enlightenment?

Betul ka?

No lahh! Don't take too seriously that band of chest-thumping Pakatan pongidae masquerading as
political messiahs and social guardians in their little syiok sendiri bubbles of impians amidst the kayangan of cyberspace.

So folks what then was THE catalyst of the PAS/PR victory?

a) The KT rakyat’s rejection of Pak Lah?

b) The KT rakyat’s rebuke of Najib?

c) The KT rakyat’s embrace of the ideals of the Pakatan Rakyat underpinned by a giddy non-Malay speaking Malaysian Malaysia paradigm?
No way, José.

d) All of the above?
No. Perhaps bits of (a) and a morsel of (b).

e) None of the above?
Yes, this is closer to the truth.

Many might say, hey KijangMas, I thought this is a
Pakatan victory, and was aided by the slick and sophisticated Pakatan bigwigs from Ipoh Timur, Bagan, Batu, Seputeh and Permatang Pauh?

Listen up, the KT result was NOT determined by the Pakatan people. In fact, PAS won
in spite of Pakatan’s contamination of that party’s agenda, mission and cohesiveness.

Really ahh?

Yup, actually the West Coast Pakatan people gave themselves
way too much credit for the PAS victory. In fact, collectively, the West Coast Pakatan people were even more irrelevant to the KT constituents than the West Coast Barisan people. Do you think the KT man-in-the-street gives a hoot about what Kit Siang, Guan Eng, Tian Chua and Teresa Kok have to say? Of course not. Do you think Brother Anwar is a factor? Nope. Not a chance. What about the “formidable” platoon of Pakatan bloggers who descended on KT to mingle with and seduce the Cina Teganung? Were the likes of Zorro, RPK and the malignant narcissist Haris Ibrahim and their kuncus effective in influencing their much-loved ethnic-Chinese voters which make up a one-tenth fraction of the constituents? Nope. In fact, the ever practical Cina Teganung showed increased support for BN this time around. These Pakatan cyber-pongidaes hence failed miserably in their Pujuk Cina Teganung mission.

Who and what then determined the PAS/PR victory?

Local factors. Yup, local Oghang Teganung factors.

This was
just a local by-election that was inflated as a national happening by a clueless UMNO/BN and a delusional PR. In fact, this was not a BN vs. PR battle. This was not a Najib vs. Anwar beauty pageant. Of course it was never an irrelevant MCA vs an inconsequential DAP war either. Most importantly, KT was not a quasi referendum on Najib, as the increasingly bizarre Pakatan zealots would like the world to believe.

The KT by-election was nothing more than a
pertarungan between an Oghang Teganung vs. another Oghang Teganung to win the hearts and minds, the hati sanubari, of the Ghakyak Kualaa Teganung. The issues were localised, grassroots, parochial, endemic, indeed, far removed from Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur.

Ok, so what happened?

Quick and dirty forensics:-

Oghang Teganung somehow finds UMNO/BN candidate Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh a non-palatable offering. I persistently got feedback from my Trengganu friends that Wan Farid is not a likable chap, somewhat aloof and unapproachable. How much this is true I don’t know. Perhaps it came with his old job as Pak Lah’s political secretary and key gatekeeper. Perhaps he had to stave off and thwart the myriad of hangers on and courtiers hovering around Pak Lah in search of quick contracts to sub to others. He could well be a fine gentleman. Maybe yes, maybe no. But it is the perception -- the gambaran -- that counts. And my own
gambaran of him is not too flattering. He somehow gives me flashbacks of a stern and békéng ketua kerani at a typical Pejabat Tanah, the type that would ignore you for five minutes and then stare at you as if you had just committed a capital crime because you interrupted his reading of Kosmo or URTV.

Békéng dang gedébang weii !
"Nok kabo bui, diaa petong mung dengang alu lesong baghu bekok cobbong ..."
"Marketable" to the Oghang Kualaa Teganung?

The PAS gentleman, Abdul Wahid Endut, somehow came across as a more approachable character. He is the archetypal Pok Chu who wiles away the afternoon to Main Haji under the tree at KT’s ubiquitous alfresco kedai kopis.

As if Wan Farid’s demeanour is not bad enough, Najib had to contend with another LOCAL issue: the antics of Trengganu’s notoriously fractious UMNO divisions. Why should Idris Jusoh’s gang support a candidate whose victory would further strengthen Ahmad Said’s stranglehold on the state and its sputtering faucet of monetised black gold? Do you really think Idris Jusoh’s gang would assist to glorify and validate Ahmad Said’s leadership of Trengganu UMNO? Indeed, news of Wan Farid’s loss was met with shrills of delight in an explosion of
schadenfreude orgy among many quarters in Trengganu UMNO itself.

Oh, for good measure throw in Dr. Mahathir’s ominous death knell (with his not so subtle statement: “The choice of the candidate is really very bad because people see him as a proxy to be used if Najib becomes prime minister”) and UMNO’s chances effectively dissipated into the monsoonal waves of KT’s seafront. Any contributory role by Pakatan here? Mana ada si pongidae?

Astonishingly, on top of the local negative sentiment and to complete the UMNO self-immolation, Najib inexplicably went to town to woo the miniscule non-Malay minorities with goodies and handouts totally irrelevant to the KT people. Why should KT – an almost 90% Malay majority seat – trigger an avalanche of unsolicited freebies to the ethnic-Chinese, including an unprecedented RM50 million to fund the SRJK(C)s across the nation via direct handouts to their school boards? Why focus on the 10% when the battle should have been fought over the almost 90% Malay constituents? Was UMNO foolishly reacting to PR’s aggrandizement of the “Chinese votes” while the restless Malays were ignored? Who actually advised Najib and the UMNO people? Which think tank? Can tanks think? Who said the KT non-Malays would be the decisive factor? Who installed these people as “Kingmakers”? While UMNO/BN fall over themselves to win the hearts and wallets of these supreme kingmakers, the real constituents, the almost 90% Malay majority, were reduced to irrelevant pawns forced fed a stale diet of tired party lines and grandiose
Mat Jenin projects in half-hearted, incoherent ceramahs.

Najib’s embrace of the SRJK(C)s effectively alienated the Malay nationalists who would have naturally gravitated towards UMNO, even if Wan Farid was not too palatable, and this further exacerbated the situation on the ground. Interestingly, the DAP
totoks in cohorts with PAS created less impact on the PAS supporters because they were certified Chinese chauvinists (and an irrelevant freakshow) anyway, hence nothing new to the KT Malay voters.

Let this be a lesson to UMNO/BN. By-elections are won and lost on LOCAL issues, LOCAL personalities, LOCAL grievances, LOCAL sentiments. Grandiose corridors and stupendous initiatives mean nothing if your candidate is not acceptable to the constituents.

AND let this
also be a lesson to the West Coast Pakatan people. PAS won this seat due to UMNO's folly and IN SPITE of YOUR presence. Remember, most of the seats you procured in PRU12 were lost by the BN and NOT won by you people. We all know now that any non-BN pongidae would have won most of those seats, as testified by their presence in parliament and
the various Dewan Undangan Negeris today. Likewise, KT was handed to PAS in a residual manifestation of UMNO/BN's political sado-masochism in these last vestiges of Pak Lah's tutelage. Will there be more freebies for you people after March 2009? Don't hold your breath, and watch where you swing between the impian vines of your hutan kayangan, lest you join the ranks of other endangered pongidaes.

Finally, I recall an oldish Teganung idiom. All one need in life is:-

- Nasik sepinggangg

- Kopi secawangg
- Ghokok sebatangg
- Sedawe e’ ...

... and may I add, a Wakil Rakyat who is a regular guy who does not remind one of the stern ketua kerani at the local Pejabat Tanah.