Opposition! time for you to demand who is paying for Najib’s extravaganza rallies?

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By Nawawi Mohamad, Stan Lee

Prime Minister Najib Razak has been arranging countless mass gatherings all over the country using public money and turning these into a series of glitzy BN political ceramah (small rallies). He knows too well that it now too late to do anything anymore, except organize as many gatherings as possible to convince fence-sitters to vote for him and his Umno-BN coalition.

This way, he has been advised, is the most effective to reach out to the people. Yes, his strategists are still banking on his ‘charisma’ and personal pull, which they tell him on a daily basis is far superior to any other ‘weapon’ that his peers in Umno or BN currently possess. And vain Najib is only too willing to believe them.

The latest gathering was the 1Malaysia For Youth (1M4U) held at the KL Convention Centre to cater for youths. Previously the “Gathering of One Million Youths” was held in Putrajaya. Thanks to incentives such as live K-pop groups, it drew tens of thousands but the number who came fell far, far short of its 1 million target.

3 large rallies in conjunction with National Day

It is obvious young Malaysians are important to Najib as the surge in the number of registered voters comes from this group, and Najib is fully aware that they are not happy with UMNO-BN. Hence the extra efforts to lure them into his den with all sorts of goodies and promises.

Najib is also organizing three separate gatherings namely in Brickfields (for the Indians), Kampong Baru (fort the Malays) and Petaling Street (for the Chinese) in conjunction with the National Day.

There has been no report yet on whether there would be one in Kuching (for the Ibans, Murut, Melanau and Dayaks) or in Kota Kinabalu (for the Kadazan-Dusun).

To some pundits, this is yet another confirmation of UMNO’s racist credentials. As the UMNO president, Najib is a typical by product of his party. His insensitivity and refusal to speak up when his party mates cross the border line of what is decent in their political rhetoric to champion the Malays at the expense of the non-Malays is more than conclusive evidence that he too is racist – despite his much touted 1Malaysia.

Not possible to take Najib & 1Malaysia seriously

No matter how many times Najib leads the crowd into shouting 1 Malaysia and jabbing the first finger in the air, the slogan has become a joke.

No Malaysian really takes it seriously – that the 1Malaysia concept can actually even out the lopsided playing field in the country, which by the way in reality is tilted not to the Malays as a whole but to the RICH Malays as a group.

Hence, the big question mark. Will this final series of rallies do the trick for Najib and UMNO-BN?

The jury is still out. But chances are high, all Najib will get is a boost for his vanity that will not translate into votes for UMNO-BN. The people will come for the goodies and camaraderie.

But each day that Najib refuses to do all the correct things for example fight corruption and take action against the wrong doers, how can he seriously expect the people to take him seriously too?

Main weapon is still the EC

Next card up the UMNO-BN sleeve is cheating at the ballot boxes. And this will be done via its influence over the Election Commission – the chairman and deputy chairman of which are unashamed to declare they are UMNO members! How can Malaysians expect neutrality then!

In fact, the EC will remain the UMNO-BN’s biggest and no longer secret weapon against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Rakyat coalition. Hence the wild lunges to demonize the Bersih movement for free and fair polls led by Ambiga Sreenevasan and Samad Said.

Within UMNO is also a fight on when to hold the 13th General Election. Najib’s camp have already sounded out that they think it is best to hold onto the 5-year mandate till it expires on April 27, 2013. This allows UMNO-BN more time to get its act together, they claim.

But that is a double-edged sword that can turn to the Pakatan’s advantage. Former premier Mahathir Mohamad and Najib’s own deputy Muhyiddin Yassin realize this. Both men have publicly called for GE-13 to be held this year – preferably after the Haj pilgrimage which ends in late October.

Sidelining the UMNO warlords

They are concerned and would prefer the UMNO internal polls to be held before GE-13, so as to calm down the party division leaders or warlords, who are anxious that Najib might use the GE-13 to reduce their power by sidelining them as candidates in the national ballot.

Najib has full discretion on whom to pick as contestants and once dropped from the candidates list, the division leaders might find themselves ‘paper tigers’. In Malaysian politics, without a seat in Parliament or the state assembly, a leader will soon find himself marginalized and out in the political wilderness.

So it is that UMNO-BN is now more concerned with its own infighting. From branch to division heads and assistant heads, all are anxious to be on the list of “winnable candidates”.

Not only that – in true UMNO fashion, they also want the “secured” or safe seats that the UMNO-BN has traditionally won by large margins. UMNO’s own quota of such safe seats has long ago run out. Now the UMNO warlords are demanding the safe seats of their BN partners. Hence the behind the scenes dog-eat-dog fight.

Najib has lost control of BN

The infighting has reached such a crescendo that Najib has actually lost control of BN. No doubt, they still give him face as to admit the BN has all but broken down would be to wave the white flag and open the gate to a victorious Opposition.

But make no mistake, the present scenario is pretty much the same as the UMNO-BN telling him, “Leave us alone to continue fighting for the seats and we will settle the matter in time for the election. As for you, Najib Razak, you should just concentrate on the gatherings.”

So it is that Najib is now the “naked emperor”. His job is to parade himself and wave his smile to the people at the UMNO-BN rallies. So far, his advisors have given him convincing feedback that after each gathering, the opinion poll shows a dramatic increase in support for him and UMNO-BN.

But are Najib and UMNO-BN so foolish as to believe their own propaganda?

Herd instinct

From the scenes shown on the government-controlled TV networks and the print media, the people interviewed during and after such gatherings are carefully selected from the different racial groups and they always praise Najib and UMNO-BN.

The response and the number of attendees are always overwhelmingly positive and huge as reported by these media. Najib himself was so overwhelmed when on one occasion in Selangor, those who came wore t-shirts bearing his image.

Again the question pops out – are Najib and the UMNO-BN really so stupid as to believe their own hype?

Of course not. Their only aim is that the ordinary people especially those in the rural areas and the villages will be convinced that support for the BN is returning.

In other words, Najib and UMNO-BN are depending on the people’s herd instinct to build a false perception of BN strength when the reality is hollow.

As always, money-making too

What else can be achieved by Najib’s series of gatherings?

Money-making of course! The contracts to put up all the banners, the stages and other paraphernalia will be given to respective cronies and whatever the costs will be funded directly or indirectly taxpayers.

This is blatant abuse of public money by the ruling government to gain votes for UMNO-BN. The coalition is using the people’s hard-earned money not only to benefit themselves and their cronies, but to make voters tick against its name on the ballot sheets.

Malaysians should not be fooled by the fancy shows and gatherings. The public should shun away from such wasteful gatherings because it is their own money that is being frittered away by Najib and UMNO-BN, when it should be solidly invested for a rainy day.

Perhaps, it is time for Malaysians and the Opposition to demand a full accounting of who is paying for Najib’s extravaganza rallies? -hornbillunleashed