By Tajuddin Rasdi
I have never written an “I told you so” article before, so I am going to try and see how it feels.
I wrote several pieces to warn about Whatsapp and mosque ceramahs taking over the Cabinet chair as political influencers.
I wrote about Islam becoming a major narrative and the need for drastic measures of counter communication. I also wrote that the power struggle among Pakatan Harapan leaders would bring down the government, and that mollycoddling the Malays will send the non-Malays away from PH.
One PH MP disagreed with me when it was pointed out that Semenyih would be lost. He said Semenyih voters were more educated and those from the middle-income level.
I told him that Malays of middle- and upper-middle class have accepted the narrative that Islam is under threat, as well as the other narrative that Malay rights and privileges were usurped by “Chinese DAP”.
But the MP brushed it off. Now, it is plain as day that the Malays do not care two hoots about Najib Razak’s 1MDB. The Malays do not even care about the claim that PAS got money from Umno. PAS Malays, meanwhile, have full trust in their Tok Guru.
When I wrote about the illusion of power in the Cabinet, some ruling politicians pooh-poohed my idea. I told them that no Malay is tuning on the TV and the newspaper because they believe the Whatsapp more, not to mention the lectures by the ustazs.
Did PH take my suggestion of retraining these ustazs and letting them loose in the mosque with the rahmatan-lil-alamin (mercy to the worlds) idea?
No. Mujahid Yusof Rawa kept having indoor seminars with scholars. These scholars do not command either the mosque or the media. They write papers and impress upon ministers of their long discourses in empty seminar rooms.
I told PH that they must reactivate their ceramah machinery and send out second and third level leaders to the ground because the TV and policy papers are useless in the battle on the ground. Najib’s tweets and “Malu Apa Bossku” were effective to small-minded Malays.
I told many activists opposed to Education Minister Maszlee Malik becoming the IIUM president that the future battleground will be Islam and a moderate narrative.
Maszlee must reactivate IIUM, and send academics out of the seminar and classrooms into the larger community to reeducate the Malays about Islam as part of democracy and multi-faith co-existence. Did anyone listen?
No. Maszlee’s critics from DAP kept harping on their naïve principle of “non-political interference”.
I did not mind students who opposed Maszlee for the post; they are young adults who never understood battle strategies and war plans.
Now, who is to take the battle of Islamic narrative to the Malays? On the field now, PH has no goalkeeper, no full back, their strikers sleeping in their limousines. The opposition can score goals with their eyes closed.
The next by-election is in Rantau. PH will lose again hands down. The Malay ground has shifted with the open goal provided by the arrogant PH leadership. The Chinese will no longer care because all the PH promises have not materialised. And mollycoddling the Malays did not work anyway!
Then there is Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s strategy to turn PPBM into his new Umno, which has irked many non-Malay voters.
For PH to win, not Rantau, but the next general election, three things must happen.
Firstly, it must deploy all the thousands of religious teachers under Mujahid and Maszlee to retrain them under a civilisational construct. Some must be sent for Masters in Communication or Social Science courses in non-Muslim countries and some to be trained in a special workshop.
The KPI for these ustazs will be lectures and ceramah in mosques and writings in the Malay media on the “rahmatan-lil-alamin” concept. This must be done or else ministers should start packing up.
Secondly, PH must start on major reforms and forget about mollycoddling the Malays. It must even deploy the Mahathirian strategy of concentrating on the non-Malays. After the disastrous result of the 1999 elections, Umno and Mahathir reeled from the shock of the Anwar Ibrahim sacking. The Malays left Umno in droves, and Mahathir introduced the PPSMI and the non-Malays saved the BN because of that.
Many thought Mahathir was thinking of our children in ensuring English proficiency. Truth is, I think, he was saying to the Malays, if you guys do not support me, then I will not beg for your support but will favour other communities.
Similarly, Najib did almost the same thing. He released a whole plethora of extremist statements against the non-Malays. His message was simple and curt to the Chinese particularly: if you guys won’t support me, then I am giving full support to all the crazy Malays, even those religious fanatics in PAS.
For starters, PH must recognise the UEC and open up UiTM for postgraduates, as suggested by one of UiTM’s founders Arshad Ayub.
Send a signal that the Malays in Umno and PAS do not dictate policy. Otherwise, the magic of GE14 will never sparkle in GE15.
Thirdly, the Old Malaysia politics must leave PH. Let the really new and untried politics lead the way. Enough with has-beens and cabinets within cabinets.
Semenyih is a warning that the voters will not turn out to vote PH if this dirty politicking and nonsense of not sticking to the original idea of succession is put in play.
But in many ways, the defeat in Semenyih is a blessing in disguise. It showed that Old Malaysia cannot survive GE15. It also shows that the Islamic narrative will rule the next three general elections.
But will PH’s arrogance pave the way to Malaysia’s ultimate failure?
First published in Free Malaysia Today.