Posted by/in mindspring on September 3, 2008. Worth reproducing it as post on its own.
Looking at the comments flying through blogshpere, it is apparent that the battle line between Anwar and UMNO will be drawn on the basis of race. UMNO the protector of the Malay’s and Anwar the sell out of the Malay’s.
I think - UMNO and its supporters in particular have a conceptual flaw in their thinking an it is a flaw that Anwar is capitalizing on.
Elections is truly a battle of perceptions - perception of which candidate has a better deal to offer. The challenge with perceptions is that it changes with sociographics change. And these are irreversible changes. Unfortunately for UMNO it is trying to relate to a voter base that has shifted - in terms of understanding, in terms of education, in terms of wealth and in terms of aspirations. In a way it is like the dog that bit the master’s hand - because these are the very malays who became what they are because of UMNO policies.
The flaw in the thinking is that UMNO expects this new sociographic to hold on to values of the past. While the past was described by rural poverty, lack of access to basic education, but balanced with abundance of open spaces and clean air, the present scenario is completely different.
The urban Malay is confronted with Urban poverty, lack of access to quality in education, living in fairly confined spaces and a degrading environment.
The fact that remains the same today as it was 50 years ago is that the Chinese are still in control of commerce and a large portion of wealth. The Malays are richer than before but probably still a gap behind the chinese. The difference between today and then is that in todays world. money speaks louder than ever. Anything that you wish can be bought - even kidneys! And this is credit to the NEP whose goal was to enlarge the pie and accordingly enlarge the bumi share of that pie, thus not robbing the chinese to pay the malays.
What the Malays - especially the urban malays are finding is that after so much of material advancement, life is still hard. Policies are not being put out to address the urban issues. The urban issues are being left to consumerism and wealth to dictate. Worst still, consumerism as pushed by Khazanah and the gods of capitalism will only bow to money. And the more everything becomes oriented to money, the more we will the chinese fingerprints - simply because that is where the money is.
Take the fuel price hike. That increase hurt the urban malay much more then the rural malay. The rural malay probably doesn’t travel as much to get on with his life - hence less usage of petrol. Whereas the urban malay has no choice but to cover all those miles by car or bike - going to work,sending kids to school, doing groceries on top of that having to pay for tolls, sit in congestion etc. Telling the urban malay that he cant drive anymore and should now take public transport - is like asking him to take a step backwards. And then at the same time UMNO says be grateful for all we have done.
No lah… people look at today only. Yes, people are 100% grateful for the past, but our reality is what is happening today. Unfortunately UMNO has not been able to move into the present.
Anwar has seized this position - Anwar is about the present and it is a position that works for him - right time, right place. Anwar may be the devil in disguise but that is not the issue, The issue is that politics and elections is a battle for peoples minds. Its a battle of perception.
The more UMNO tries to push the “protector of malay’s” agenda, the more it will backfire. Assumes that of 100% Malays - 50% are true muslims and 50% are liberal malays. The first lot will always be with PAS and PAS’s position is clear - the islamic way. Forget if PAS can run the country or not, that is not the issue. What is interesting is that more Malays professionals are in PAS that in UMNO (I think) and PAS itself in its line up has a much more professionally qualified leaders than in UMNO. These professionals are unfortunately for UMNO, the urban Malays.
OF the other 50% liberal malays - what do they do? Well they either stay in UMNO , become enlightened and join PAS or go mainstream and be with PKR. the decision of where they throw their support is truly a function of the proposition of the respective parties. So UMNO is indeed fishing from a diminishing pond.
Worst still, UMNO’s real strength has been the BN coalition. But that itself is gone. The Indians woke up and said what has MIC done for us and literally decimated MIC at the polls, likewise for the chinese MCA. So the issues we are facing is not just a MALAY UMNO issue. The county as a whole has grown up, and it is ready for a new politics.
UMNO has failed miserable to present itself as UMNO Baru Baru while PKR, DAP and even PAS have presented themselves with youthful candidates - high on energy and idealism. Just look at the contenders for the UMNO VP position and see if you can find anyone below 50 years old?
So my suggestion to UMNO and its supporters, the real battle is a battle of perception. Right now you have lost every round to Anwar. The only way you will win back support is when people see UMNO Baru Baru - No Pak Lah, No Najib, No Khairy, No Mukhris, No Hishamuddin. UMNO has to put forth an Peoples UMNO and not an UMNO that has been inherited by birth right of marriage.
For now you can't touch Anwar!