In my recent conversation with an old friend, we hit a very interesting point on United Malays National Organisation (Umno)'s recent strategy to portray 'Others Are Bad Too'. Umno is the dominant party in the coalition that has been ruling Malaysia for the past 58 years. In addition to 'Divide and Rule' and 'Divert and Rule' strategies, this party has progressed into 'Others Are Bad Too'.
We can see that there are 4 steps to this 'Others Are Bad Too' strategy.
These Umno supporters are willing to admit that some of them are corrupt. They will usually finger point to cases of some Umno leaders who are widely known to be corrupt.
They will be quick to blame that all the opposition parties, especially the key leaders, are equally corrupt. Although they are usually unable to specifically mention any case of corruption with evidence, they nonetheless argue that opposition leaders are just the same as Umno leaders. When they are asked why Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC), which is under the control of Umno, have not managed to prosecute or get any of the so-called corrupt key opposition leaders convicted, they inevitably assure you that a big case will be brought soon. Please do not hold your breath while you wait for the prosecution from MACC. We have not seen any case yet for years.
They emphatically make a case that voting for Umno or any of the opposition parties will mean the same. In their dispute, 'Others Are Bad Too'.
They then conclude that Malaysian voters are better off voting for UMNO or its coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN). Malaysians are apparently unable to improve the country by voting for the opposition anyway.
We can see that the local mainstream media encompassing TVs, newspapers, radios, etc is assisting Umno to propagate this 'Others Are Bad Too' strategy. They are willing to report small fry cases of corruption in Umno or its government. At the same time, they hurl many unsubstantiated cases against the opposition. Cases that are never brought to the court ultimately. In fact, Utusan Malaysia and New Straits Times have been known to pay compensation to opposition leaders for falsified claims against them. However, the damage is sometimes done in the political arena despite the fact that a lie may be corrected and justice is eventually done. The editorial columns of mainstream newspapers constantly try to instil the idea that the opposition is equally bad and inculcate distrust in the opposition. They will also repeatedly boast the benefits of having Umno and BN with a view to conclude that Malaysians are apparently not able to improve the country by voting for opposition. Hence, Malaysians are better off voting for Umno and BN.
"In Malaysia, you can be forgiven to think that 'people' and 'rakyat' (citizens) mean government."
We find a few flaws in this 'Others Are Bad Too' strategy by Umno:
- The fact that Umno has to resort to this strategy means that Umno have run out of merits or worthy achievements to talk about. This is sad for a party that has been in power for over 1/2 of a century
- Umno supporters admit corrupt practices on behalf of the party or their leaders. This is as close as you can get to incriminating confession of guilt. Despite this, any prosecution by MACC against an Umno leader is rare. A conviction is almost unheard of.
- Their claims of corruption cases against opposition have been proven untrue over and over again. The lack of any prosecution by MACC or conviction further strengthen the case of innocence.
- A vote for opposition may or may not improve the situations in the country, it does not follow that a vote for Umno and BN will be better off for Malaysians. We have 58 years of history to tell us the contrary.
To a large extent, this 'Others Are Bad Too' strategy may be effective to dupe unsuspecting voters. It is unethical and it thrives on misleading claims. This strategy has been applied in the newly imposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) to paint a misleading picture of the opposition that are equally bad. In the case of Hudud, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS)'s president is seen to be 'sleeping' with Umno, despite the fact that PAS is an opposition. 'Others Are Bad Too' strategy works so much better when Umno can pull an individual or a small group of them from the opposition to collaborate.
It is understandable why Umno has adopted this strategy. The party and its president, Najib Razak have been shrouded by scandals after scandals. You only have to Google search for news by typing Scandals in Malaysia. There are many and constantly updated with new ones. I will not be able to give the latest by listing them here. Please search for the scandalous news.
Perhaps, in time of desperation, Umno supporters may have inadvertently bordered on bad mouth, deception and spread of lies in order to secure support for Umno.