On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Spooked by political scenario

IT’S been six months since the March 8 general election but the perception is that many Malaysians just do not know how to stop politicking, to the point that we are in danger of becoming a political basket case.

Let’s start with Umno, the backbone of the Barisan Nasional. Despite being whipped by the Pakatan Rakyat in the elections, the perception is that it has failed to make serious changes.

Some of the leaders acknowledge the need to reinvent the party to win back the votes and to assess why it suffered such massive losses. But if there is any serious remake of the party, it has not been seen.

Politically, the perception given is that it believes that the losses would have not happen had the Malay swing to the opposition not materialised, and it believes that segments of the Malays now regret the political shift.

Some of the older Umno leaders, who have lost connection with the younger Malay electorate, cherish the old ways of politics, believing that if it worked during their time, it would work again.

Some push the race card, preferring to still talk of race supremacy, refusing to accept that this would only further alienate Malaysians who have long grown sick of such race politics.

In states under Pakatan Rakyat, there are Umno leaders who still act as if they are in the government, still referring to the new state government leaders as opposition.

Old schools

Many Umno leaders in these Pakatan-controlled states are unable to function as opposition figures. In fact, some have not even come to terms with this harsh reality after six months.

Some in the old schools of politics are still unable to comprehend the New Media as the new tool of politics.

The newspapers continue to be scanned for criticism, however mild they may be, while the free-wheeling comments on the Net are perceived as near anarchy by them.

From indecisive actions to downright silly responses, some Umno leaders are still wondering why the party has become unpopular as some continue shooting themselves in the foot.

And instead of regaining the trust of the people after the March 8 damage, they channel their resources and energy to their Umno polls €“ as the rakyat watch and shake their heads in disbelief.

By the way, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s gathering in Kelana Jaya last week was broadcast “live” on his blog with clear visual and sound bites, and surely this must be news for many Umno leaders.

And speaking of Anwar, his impatience has always been his Achilles’ heels, as the manner he has pushed for the defections of Barisan Nasional elected representatives has raised many questions.

Everything may be fair game in a war, as his supporters have justified in their efforts to topple the government. But the result is that the Pakatan is now accused of wooing backbenchers with offers of government positions and money, which goes against the principles of what it is supposedly fighting for.

Even if these allegations are baseless, it is not correct for elected representatives to defect, no matter how convincing the arguments.

But Sept 16 was never meant to be a reality. It fired up the imagination of many Malay­sians against an unpopular government but if Anwar truly had the numbers, it would have been game over.

Political antics

It was merely a clever political poker tactic, which his critics would call a bluff, but the truth shall eventually prevail.

If it were true, these defectors would have stood behind Anwar at the press conference and declared their new political allegiance.

The biggest losers would be ordinary Malaysians, not the politicians waiting to reap the rewards, because investors have become jittery about the Malaysian market.

The Pakatan should just get on with the task of governing their states, and the perception is that in Penang and Selangor, the Chief Minister and Mentri Besar are performing reasonably well.

Prove their worth, take the fight in the next round and they could just finish off the Barisan Nasional this time, if the coalition still cannot handle themselves well.

The endless, if not mindless, politicking has dented our image abroad as Malaysia is no longer seen as a place for serious investment.

Why should investors put up with speculations over whether the federal government would collapse, the sexual preferences of our politicians, who would be hauled up under the Internal Security Act next and whether our Ministers are in their offices to listen to an investment proposal or out busy campaigning for their party polls.

Malaysians want to see politicians doing some real work, not taking a trip to Taiwan supposedly to learn about agriculture or wooing MPs to switch camps.