Li Fook Gao
We shout from the side to tell the players what to do and what not to do. We feel frustrated when the players do not respond.We criticize the referees whenever we feel they are alienating the team we are supporting. We try to predict the results of the ball game before it starts, in the middle of the game and, before the game ends.
We analyze when our predictions go wrong. We try to rationalize our loss, and belittle our opponents' victories. We create more political logics using past results (example, Hulu Selangor will be the next Ijok) without strong evidence to back it up.
We often think that we are smart. We feel good when things go according to our predictions. Most often, we are too quick to blame the other team for cheating and the referees for being biased whenever our predictions go awry.
In conclusion, the media, the political watchers, the political analysts and the rakyat, in fact, most of us, are just spectators in politics.
Spectators can only know so much through observations. They forget that besides the 22 players, 2 coaches and 1 referee who determine the result of a match, there are international bookies, advertisement factors, hype and drama to keep the whole season of football interesting.
In Malaysia, our political landscape has not changed much for the last two decades. Our politics still very much evolved around the same players namely Dr Mahathir, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Nik Aziz and Najib Razak with the same old referees MACC, EC, Police and the mainstream media.
How about the political spectators? We have to be grateful that the Internet has improved the quality of spectators over the years, but we have to remember that the political players too, are adapting their skills with technological advancement to play around with political spectators' observation and mindset.
There are two common political strategies that have always worked well in Malaysia to dupe the spectators.
The first is the “divide and rule” strategy. To date, Dr Mahathir is the master of this political strategy even in his retirement. Until now, no one seems to be able to counter his “divide and rule” game; and yes, you heard me right, not even Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and Nik Aziz can do anything about it. The whole nation just falls into this “divide and rule” game whenever Mahathir decides to play this political card.
Just take a look at how he uses Perkasa as his tool to continue his “divide and rule” strategy. It is given the green light to say things that can hurt the aspiration for a united Malaysia.
If you somehow hate Perkasa, subconsciously your mind will create a barrier and a negative perception towards the community it says it represents. If you somehow agree with them, subconsciously your mind will create a negative perception and a barrier that you are the victim and the other communities are the oppressors.
Both sides were made to think they are under siege, and when they start to defend themselves from the psy-war attacks, they can only get segregated further from each other which makes this “divide and rule” strategy so deadly effective in our politics.
To get out from Mahathir's latest “divide and rule” game, everyone must ignore Perkasa, which we know is a next to impossible feat because Perkasa is making itself to the headlines everyday - be it on the mainstream media or the Internet. Any retaliation on Perkasa whether it is in the form of self-defence, clarification of statements and answering damning allegations or maintaining our silence while letting Perkasa continues with its barking will further divide us.
Regardless of what we do, we are painfully stuck in this brilliant “divide and rule” game created on us.
Good cop, bad cop
The second most effective political strategy in Malaysia is the “good cop-bad cop” strategy. In the “divide and rule” routine, one side must play the role to be seen as the devils so that the other side can look like an acceptable saint to all parties.
To make the Prime Minister look good and acceptable to all, his deputy must be seen as the chief of hardliners who disagrees with his policies. To make 1Malaysia look like an ideal platform for all Malaysian, Perkasa and Mahathir must be seen as the devil that wants to destroy that dream.
Political spectators are easily fooled when the political players decide to deploy the “good cop-bad cop” strategy. These bunches of spectators are too obsessed about the drama the political players created without realizing their plot to turn them into believing that one side is actually fighting their cause. They forget those good cops and bad cops are from the same team, playing on the same stage with the same motive to outlast their opponent so that they can stay in power forever.
Is there a way out for the rakyat in these kinds of evil political play? Unless the spectators can see through these two political strategies, there is not much hope that our political situation will change in the short term until the pain is painful enough to trigger a change.
Li Fook Gao is just another political spectator in Malaysia.