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BN is losing the battle

 | September 4, 2012

Anwar Ibrahim has probably grown immune to the system to the point that the system is crashing under his weight.

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The tactic of targeting Anwar Ibrahim – using ruffians to throw stones and bottles at pro-Pakatan Rakyat supporters – is a definite sign of reckless behaviour by the ruling coalition.

This, coupled with the holding of ceramah next to the Pakatan rallies, is an indication of the bankruptcy of Barisan National.

The events at Pantai Dalam some months ago where Umno thugs disturbed, under the nose of the authorities, the rally organised by PKR is not only shameful but also further tarnished the image of BN and its leaders.

After Perkasa, which attacked the opposition in its ceramah and rallies, it is now Umi Hafilda Ali and Tibai (Tolak Individu Bernama Anwar Ibrahim) doing the same shameful acts.

The disturbance created by the hooligans wearing the “Patriot” T-shirt – who did not garner support during Bersih 2.0 – is something of grave concern. It shows that BN is growing desperate.

Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s constant accusation that Pakatan will turn violent if it loses the next general election is another indication of the panicky state of affairs in BN.

Despite the supposed success of Umno’s 66th anniversary rally in August, BN is facing bad times. Its problem is that Pakatan is winning the battle.

BN has been waging a psychological war against Pakatan and Anwar since the latter won the Permatang Pauh by-election.

BN and Umno are doing everything to divide Pakatan, from the secret talks with PAS to the poaching of opposition members. But they did not make any headway.

Since 2008 in the aftermath of the worst electoral debacle for BN, we have seen numerous examples of the psychological warfare waged by the BN machinery.

These include the Perak takeover, the Sodomy II affair, the Bersih 2.0 and 3.0 rallies, the Apco issue and many others.

Anwar more upbeat

There have been many accusations against Anwar but no one from the BN side dared sue the opposition leader. On the contrary, Anwar has sued most of his accusers albeit the courts rejected the cases, at times on flimsy grounds.

BN thought the “court defeats” would destroy Anwar’s political career, but they had the opposite effect: Anwar is more upbeat now.

The Perak takeover will come back to haunt the BN come the 13th general election. It will be seen as a mistake, which was proven when the former menteri besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin won a by-election by a large margin.

Following his victory, the state has not really recovered from the shock of the overthrowing of the Pakatan-led government. The BN is saying it has the edge in Perak but on the ground it says otherwise.

The fact that it took the courts years to deal with the Sodomy II case is an indication that the Pakatan de facto leader is a tough nut to crack. The Sodomy II case is a landmark defeat for those who plotted the case against him.

The case came to light before the massive “Arab Spring” in the Middle East and, at first, it looked as if the opposition leader was doomed to a jail term. But the turn of events – not that these were the reasons why Anwar was proclaimed innocent – in the Middle East with the fall of several Arab regimes, made it virtually impossible to put the leader behind bars.

From the beginning of the Sodomy II trial, it was evident to many observers in the country that Anwar was not guilty. The appearance of medical reports denying there was sodomy was sufficient for the public to come to that conclusion.

BN is today in a state of shock following the Bersih rally which created waves while the Bukit Jalil gathering was an obvious “flop”. The repeated delays in the announcement of the 13th general election date is not playing into the hands of BN as well.

The hesitation is leaving fissures in the ruling coalition and this is being shown by the violence organised by thugs at Pakatan rallies.

A most formidable ooponent

If Mahathir is right about Pakatan’s possible conduct if it loses the election, then the statesman should also be asked to comment on the bankruptcy of BN.

His ruling party is a constant pain in the neck for Pakatan supporters and leaders, creating disturbances at Pakatan rallies or blocking the passage for Anwar and other Pakatan leaders.

Is this a sign that BN is not willing to let go of its political power with ease? It is up to Mahathir to give a proper and responsible answer.

On the other hand, Anwar has shown extreme political survival skills. It has to be said that Anwar has probably grown immune to the system to the point that the system is crashing under his weight.

Pakatan is proving to be a most formidable opponent to BN. And if the Bersih 3.0 rally with its massive crowd in the streets of Kuala Lumpur is not sufficient to show that Pakatan is such a formidable rival, then what else will do?

This is what BN must admit and then it has to plan a better electoral strategy to counter the rising popularity of Pakatan.

Bersih 3.0 will be remembered for two major reasons: the peaceful, joyous assembly and the rough police action. The assembly is a plus point for Pakatan while the rough police action will be a stigma for BN.

Malaysia is far off from the days of 1999 when the printed media, under government control, published pictures of the Reformasi crowd attacking police cars and so on. This tactic will not work this time around.

KL-based Amir Ali works for an Indonesian NGO called the Warisan Melayu Riau, which is based in Bengkalis, Riau.


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