Scruffles, the political tortoise, answers your questions.

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May 9, 2013 by Wayne.

No, he won’t! Because it’s another episode of ANSWER YOUR OWN QUESTIONS DAY. A really brief one, though.

I’ve been thinking a bit about what’s been going on post-elections and it’s all a bit fishy. What’s BN really up to? Is it a botched attempt at racial polarization? Is that attempt really botched? Or is it an attempt to further divide among the party line? If so, why would they do such a thing?

Lacking the resources for a proper study and the time for a detailed analysis (since I haven’t read a page of econometrics and can barely recall more than 40% of the chapter titles), here are a couple of (un)educated thoughts on the whole thing:

Is there anywhere I can read about what the hell happened during GE13?
You’ll have to be more specific but there are plenty of articles circulating online. They’re pretty much all regurgitating the same shit, though.

Here’s an example.

What does John Rawls talk about on the 204th page of the First Edition of A Theory of Justice?

The inability to take advantage of one’s rights and opportunities as a result of poverty and ignorance, and a lack of means generally, is sometimes counted among the constraints definitive of liberty. I shall not, however say this, but rather I shall think of these things as affecting the worth of liberty, the value to individuals of the rights that the first principle defines. With this understanding, and assuming that the total system of liberty is drawn up in the manner just explained, we may note that the two-part basic structure allows a reconciliation of liberty and equality. Thus liberty and the worth of liberty are distinguished as follows: liberty is represented by the complete system of the liberties of equal citizenship, while the worth of liberty to persons and groups is proportional to their capacity to advance their ends within the framework the system defines.

Did the racial tactics fail?
To clarify beforehand, everything I write here is speculation. DON’T JAIL ME BRO, I’M NOT CUT OUT FOR PRISON. Also, I’m not highly familiar with the inside workings of any political party and neither am I seasoned in the art of political misdirection. I AM, however, a Redditor and thus will attempt to act as knowledgeable as possible about something I’ve only read in passing.

Scenario 1: Race baiting was part of the agenda all along
The possible reasons for this are twofold – to create the perception of a Chinese vs Malay schism and pull Malay voters back to BN, and to drive Chinese into further circlejerks that will hopefully descend into a couple of idiots shooting off racist remarks. RPK is a douchebag who writes like he’s the fallen hero victimized by Chinese from DAP, but he makes a point in a recent blog post about the uptrend of racist remarks from Chinese people post-Bersih rallies. All of this only serves to harden Malays against the ‘Chinese tsunami’ and feeds into the whole ‘DAP is a Chinese party that wants to destroy Islam and it’s taking over the nation’.

I was inclined to look at it this way at first too. It does seem to be the most plausible scenario, after all early polls indicated PAS would lose Kedah and a number of other seats. And there were even earlier signs with the infighting in PAS and the MCA propaganda to frighten the Chinese voters – signs that BN would try to capitalize on the likelihood that DAP would gain more seats than PAS and the power dynamic in Pakatan would (uncomfortably) shift. Coupled with the recent statements about the Chinese tsunami etc from Mahathir, Najib etc, it certainly looks like that’s what they were going for.

Did it work though? Hard to tell. It’s generated plenty of backlash (inadvertently driving more people to the Anwar rally despite all the misinformation being thrown around), but I suspect the message has indeed been driven into more than a few Malay voters already fearful of the secular rocket’s ascent. Not to mention I’ve already seen one or two Chinese idiots take the bait and stupidly lash out at Malays who’ve responded to the Cina vs Melayu rhetoric.

Scenario 2: Race baiting clouds the issue, since the real point is to further fuel political polarization
While there’s been an increase in anti-BN support, some of it has worked in BN’s favour. People unite against adversity, and the wave of anti-BN sentiment on social media (particularly starting from Bersih) will only serve to harden BN supporters and apologists. Read: confirmation bias, fanboyism, deindividuation, taylor swift

Note: All these flaws in thinking similarly apply to Pakatan supporters too. While I initially posted a status questioning if anyone had sources about the Bentong blackout, I eventually got caught up in the wave too and assumed it was true. Yes, I contributed to the misinformation. My bad.

Speaking of which, who started the rumours about the Bentong blackout?
Once again, this is all just speculation, not accusing anyone in particular. I’m mainly assessing the motivation for each party to originate the rumour.
If it was:
BN -> The follow up truth would serve to further strengthen Barisan supporters against PR. Naturally, BN people didn’t fall into the trap of misinformation – and I applaud their cynicism – but most of them are writing off the incident as gullible PR idiots falling for rumours and, well, applauding themselves for their foresight. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it does lessen the impact of further (verifiably true) news, since so many falsehoods have been spread. Think about the faux Earth Hour twitter comment, the Shinzo Abe free education for Malaysians, hell even the pledges requesting foreign intervention. All of these arguably are lending to a dilution of the social media impact beyond a simple circlejerk of like-minded people. And that’s not a good situation! As social media gets increasingly clouded by misinformation, the opposition will find it more difficult to ride the waves of change through it.

Maybe they’ll start putting people on the ground in East Malaysia then. Reddit Istari, anyone? You know I’m down for that shit, if my dream to start the Datakind charter in Malaysia doesn’t work out.

PR -> There’ve been suggestions that Pakatan leaders tried trudging the waters of misinformation but failed – supposedly the rumors originated from them as did the early proclamation of victory.

I’ll come back to the possibility of that in a moment, but hey, the early proclamation thing totally wasn’t for the reason I expected. There were rumours (olol) that this was due to the early count of the Form 14s and the tallying didn’t match the final count but I heard Nurul Izzah’s interview on Al Jazeera and she claims the announcement was due to the fact that they had run polls which showed a victory in PR’s favour.

Yeah. It’s a bit ehhhhhh.

So could PR have been behind the rumours in the first place? That would have fuelled the sense of injustice and provided the impetus for the current rounds of rallies, so there’s a possible motive there, at least.

Some random person -> Fuck, man. Why you gotta do shit like this.

How is BN coping with the massive rally?
It’s hard to tell if they expected it. Idiots like RPK didn’t, but I’m sure BN would have contingency plans for either case (flop or the massive turnout). Pretty much all signs were pointing towards it though, and the real question is whether they’ve managed to successfully spin the topic in mainstream media. Again, we’re assuming here that mainstream media is the major influence in rural areas (excluding the obvious monetary payouts etc during elections).

No doubt BN tried hard to politicize the rally – the initial ban from the police, the spreading of false messages ranging from ‘don’t wear black’ to ‘it’s still illegal!’ are all very well, but I’m sure they were hoping for a predominantly Chinese turnout to further lend credence to their racial rhetoric.

Mainstream media responses to the rally:
I’m writing this at 1.29am but scheduling it for later, so I haven’t seen any responses yet. I’m guessing it’ll be along the lines of downplaying the numbers that turned up or highlighting Chinese faces in the crowd, making it seem like a predominantly Chinese showing etc. We’ll see.

10am edit: STRANGE. Any idea what they’re going for here?

Can we get some pictures?

yeah yeah


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Mel Thompson:

Public opinion is always open to ‘spin’. Facts are more difficult to establish. Governments are there to persuade people – if they have a working majority, a political party supporting a government need not be unduly concerned about short-term adverse poll ratings…but when it becomes sustained, or an election is approaching, is there added pressure to present and sell issues in a way that will please the electorate?

For those in favour of reform and a dismantling of the corruption and cronyism that’s become a pillar of our society: the popular vote is on our side. But never forget that this isn’t an immutable truth; Malaysians are easily swayed by fads, and Barisan will not cease to work towards the next election. They will learn from their mistakes and Pakatan must do so quickly and formulate new strategies or all our effort will be for naught.

In the meantime, keep fighting the good fight. The life of man is short, but justice lives on beyond those who establish it. Here’s to a better Malaysia.

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