#IniKaliLah. Pakatan officials have total confidence in their candidate for prime minister. They gloat that the ferocity of attacks against Mahathir suggests BN is terrified of him. Fantastic. So, why have they been spending 90% of their time urging supporters not to spoil their votes or boycott the election? Isn’t Mahathir sure to win the election for them? When did he become a liability?
Over the past week, #UndiRosak has dominated headlines. Here’s a movement that birthed spontaneously over dissatisfaction with both BN and Pakatan. Of course, it’s primarily a vehicle for traditional Pakatan supporters who oppose Mahathir’s return to Putrajaya. These Malaysians, some with a long history in opposition activism, feel compelled to spoil their votes in GE14. They’re assumed to be a tiny minority, but you wouldn’t know it from the sort of reaction they’ve received.
Mahathir himself addressed the issue. Pakatan’s top dog dismissed determined non-voters as “shallow-minded”. Later, he unleashed a sarcastic blog post aimed at those who don’t see any daylight between BN and Pakatan. About a week earlier, prominent pro-Pakatan columnist Mariam Mokhtar, a noted proponent of the ‘Najib is scared of Mahathir’ theory, angrily denounced would-be boycotters and vote-spoilers as irresponsible Najib-enablers.
The general sentiment on Pakatan-dominated social media is no less vicious. #UndiRosak advocates have been subject to torrents of verbal abuse: stupid, selfish, self-indulgent, naive, traitor, dedak-eater – you know the drill. I guess disaffected Pakatan voters are a big deal, huh? As #UndiRosak supporter Maryam Lee rightly asked, “Why so angry?”
Pakatan’s main contention is that electoral abstention and vote-spoiling would only help Najib. But when did Pakatan turn into George W. Bush’s ‘coalition of the willing’? After all, the American president infamously declared, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” When did not voting for Pakatan become equivalent to affirming one’s self as the enemy of the people? Since when did Pakatan have the right to dictate what our opinions are?
Now, I’ve been completely transparent on how I’m going to vote and why (read here). I can make a positive case for Najib and BN. Going by their obsessive focus on Najib, Pakatan leaders clearly can’t do the same for Mahathir. They’re embarrassed at and even repulsed by what their coalition has to offer – a 93-year-old former dictator with a horrifying record. So, in self-loathing denial and like small children, they lash out at people who hold a different opinion.
More pathetic is their claim that #UndiRosak is some sort of BN conspiracy – their tired, go-to tactic whenever Pakatan finds itself in deep doo-doo. But public skepticism toward Mahathir is merely the direct result of Pakatan’s decades-long attacks on him. Again and again, they accused him of corruption, cronyism, racism, and political repression. Malaysians tak mudah lupa. And that’s surely not BN’s fault.
In fact, BN leaders have publicly and consistently called for people to make a choice and vote (see here). In contrast, Pribumi vice-president Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman urged unhappy BN supporters to skip the polls. “Only those who support us should go out and vote,” he reportedly told a press conference. His remarks were doubly shameful because Rashid himself used to be the chief of the Election Commission. Who’s trying to discourage voting now?
If Pakatan politicians want to blame anyone for #UndiRosak’s existence, they should blame themselves for caving to Mahathir. If they want to blame anyone for #UndiRosak’s popularity, they should blame themselves for attacking and mocking the movement, turning its advocates into overnight celebrities. This grand ‘conspiracy’ begins and ends with them. Perhaps, one day, they’ll stop spinning their catastrophic failures as strategic triumphs. Knowing them, I suspect not.