Najib and the real cost of his absolute Power

Image result for Donald Trump and China

China’s hawks see a geopolitical opportunity. Deep in the belief system of China’s ruling Communist party is that China is a rising power and America a declining one. Mr Trump’s election is already being seen as a cause and a consequence of American weakness. “The US and West may have to suffer from its consequences rather than China,” wrote Global Times, a newspaper with links to the military. “We may as well let the guy go up and see what chaos he can create.”
Image result for Najib and Trump

The most obvious lesson is not to be overconfident of course.Another lesson is to never let our urban bubble prevent us from understanding a demographic as a whole.The media made it look like the entire world (understandably) thought of Trump as a buffoon. This was probably largely true of many urban Americans; but urban Americans and the America the media imagines (or rather sells to) don’t decide elections.Malaysia has a similar significant urban/rural divide. All major urban areas have solidly voted opposition in recent elections, but Barisan Nasional remains firmly in power off the back of rural support.
Image result for Najib and Zahid

It’s an area and a (much less visible) demographic that the opposition truly does not understand well, and surrounding oneself with like-minded urbanites is unlikely to change this status quo. As an aside, this is also probably the reason PAS’ relevance will be unlikely to diminish anytime soon.
Any democracy is hobbled without an Opposition. where a government wheezes, gasps and limps triumphantly to the finish line because there is no other horse in the race?where a government wheezes, gasps and limps triumphantly to the finish line because there is no other horse in the race? PAS is not a particularly reassuring template. In the turbulence between DAP and PAS, its UMNO defections strategy infected democracy so badly that it destroyed the credibility of non-umno parties. should PAS still be a player in 2018 elections. Now that PAS has allied with umno, Najib can legitimately claim to have seen everything, been everywhere. . However, nostalgia does not buy votes. Votes go to those who sell a future, not those who re-brand the past.

Image result for Najib at 2016 UMNO General Assembly
Najib has managed to hold on to power, but not without incurring serious costs. Growing authoritarianism, widening political polarisation, deepening ethnic tensions and discredited immoral leadership have damaged Malaysia’s social and political fabric. Najib’s mismanagement is also evident in the economy’s contraction and the depreciating currency. That thousands braved threats of arrest and thuggery to attend the Bersih 5 rally shows that many Malaysians are willing to fight on and will not be cowed. The test ahead will be the point when Najib’s fear campaign backfires more widely, and more Malaysians realize that the only thing they have to fear is Najib himself.
the Trump phenomenon would be just as significant even if he had lost. The victory was a function of the way in which the rules of this particular game operated, but the fact that he appealed to so many at such a visceral level is the development that needs to be better understood.The truth is that it doesn’t really matter what made him win, for his win is nothing more than a statistical detail. Not in the sense that his win is not a significant event, for it clearly is a momentous era-defining victory,China has a vested interest in keeping a weak, dependent, autocratic leader in power. Little attention is being paid to the potential loss of Malaysian territory to the Chinese, to the unfavourable terms of these arrangements and their limited positive impact on Malaysia’s economy. Guarding against the possibility of electoral defeat, Najib has also established the new National Security Council, which came into effect in August and allows the prime minister to dictatorially declare a state of emergency through a body made up of his own appointees. At the same time, Najib has created a new special defence force and increased his personal protection. There is a strong feeling in some quarters that this is not to time to go soft Najib and what he signifies, that any time attempt to empathise makes excuses on behalf of Najib and normalizes what should be abhorrent. This might appear to be a strong and uncompromising view, but it ignores the fact that today it is democracy that is increasingly throwing up popular demagogues, and by doing more of what of has created this phenomenon in the first place, is the surest way of ensuring that Najib is not an aberration, but the norm.

Most of us ordinary mortals who work for scant rewards and only wish to enjoy, undisturbed, the fruits of our labour, are caught up in a war that we do not even realise had been declared on our behalf.  This war is ideological and political, although it wears the sheep’s clothing of fighting for we Malaysians.  Confusingly and maddeningly, its stated objectives have metamorphosed as the generals in whose hands we placed our destinies strategize on the battlefield, and the casualties rise.  While doing so we cast about for a central reason for the war.  Is it a war for free, honest goverenment being waged against the forces of corruption and criminality? Or is it a war that will leave the enemy unvanquished, for our commanders to switch their objectives to other, less worthy, foes altogether? Politician will use both psychological and philosophical tools to sift through the causes, effects and after-shocks of the events  many of us are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, although we don’t know it. the difference between ideology and philosophy.One politician who was equally percipient,former U.S. president Bill Clinton.Philosophers want to engage in discussion and argument, Clinton said in a 2006 speech. “The problem with ideology is, if you’ve got an ideology, you’ve already got your mind made up; you know all the answers. And, that makes evidence irrelevant and argument a waste of time. So, you [use] assertion and attack.”
This week’s UMNO meeting reflects rising paranoia. So far Najib has managed to hold on to power, but not without incurring serious costs. Growing authoritarianism, widening political polarisation, deepening ethnic tensions and discredited immoral leadership have damaged Malaysia’s social and political fabric. Najib’s mismanagement is also evident in the economy’s contraction and the depreciating currency. That thousands braved threats of arrest and thuggery to attend the Bersih 5 rally shows that many Malaysians are willing to fight on and will  fight on and will not be cowed.

, Najib has adeptly used a variety of tactics to stay in power, which is crucial if he is to avoid international prosecution. The most obvious of these involves a crackdown on political opponents. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was jailed in 2015. Since then more than 10 opposition politicians have faced a variety of charges from sedition to challenges to ‘parliamentary democracy’. Last month whistleblower and parliamentarian, Rafizi Ramli, was convicted of violating the Official Secrets Act for releasing evidence associated with 1MDB. This week’s UMNO meeting has called for continued no-holds barred attacks on the opposition.The media has also been in the firing line. In 2015 the harassment of publishers led to the closure of The Malaysian Insider. Last month the online portal Malaysiakini was raided, and its editor Steven Gan was charged for simply publishing a video. This comes on the back of the Communication and Media Act being tightened in March. ‘Protection’ from insults has extended beyond Najib to those seen to be protecting him. The aim is to silence criticism of Malaysia’s most unpopular prime minister.Najib’s government has deepened its use of racial chauvinism. From the 2013 elections onwards, it has depicted opposition to it as ‘Chinese’ and reinforced the view that Najib’s UMNO party, is the only viable protector of the Malays. This politicised framing lacks any grounding in reality as over 40 per cent of Malays voted for the opposition in 2013 and the most recent Bersih rally showcased the breadth of multi-ethnic opposition to Najib, especially among young Malays. Nevertheless, Najib’s strategy has increased ethnic tensions along political lines. His ratcheted war-like rhetoric at the UMNO meeting points to a willingness to tear the society apart for his own political survival.
While there are without doubt many variables unique to the United States that would explain the Trump phenomenon, it is clearly a part of a larger shift in the world. The liberal intellectual establishment is under attack, and the values it has espoused for so long are being challenged. Perhaps the problem lies with the fact that the liberal establishment declared a premature victory. Over the last few decades, what were ideals to be striven for have become standards against which people are judged. The mental model is that of a presumed consensus on what the world should like and what our beliefs should be. Those not conforming to these standards are called a variety of names. What is striking is that the standards have become progressively more stringent without always keeping ground realities in mind. A fashionable parlour game is to spot flaws in anything that is held up as progressive, by finding structural reasons why it is deep down still discriminatory in some form. Labels have hardened- sexist, racist, homophobic, bigot, casteist- these are descriptions that are used quite freely.Without the possibility of some dialogue based on a certain minimum amount of empathy, the divide will only get sharper. The right is rapidly manufacturing its own set of labels, and these are potentially even more frightening than the ones used by the liberal establishment. Trump needs to be fought, but the phenomenon that created him needs to be spoken to and engaged with.At at least one point in the night, Johnson and Stein were having a visible effect on the elections. Their combined number of votes at that point in Florida and Michigan – key battleground states – were double that of the difference between Trump and Clinton.This means that if (a very big hypothetical of course) those individuals voted for Clinton instead of Trump, there’s a good chance the election would have gone to Clinton instead.As our next general election approaches, I think it is safe to say that three-corner fights will almost certainly result in BN victories.This is not to say that we should blindly support whichever Pakatan we still believe in. I believe that in the long run, our best hope lies in a movement which does not really exist yet.In the meantime, while it is foolhardy to say that one on one fights will guarantee victory against BN, I think it is equally foolhardy to imagine that three (or more) corner fights will produce anything but a BN victory.It’s easy to rant and rave about how America will truly elect any idiot whatsoever President.
In the end though, if we don’t want to continue living these realities, we really have to move out of our comfort zones, stretch out our imagination and really develop better respect for those who live far away from us, watch different TV shows, and vote differently.Only then can we start bridging the gaps we need to in order to make our aspirations come true.
There is a new energy in democracy, and this threatens those who championed democracy the most. Trump succeeds because of the very reasons that makes him so obnoxious. He has no respect for any institutions, little knowledge of how to govern, no personal scruples that can be readily identified, but what he has is a seemingly unstoppable desire to tear down existing structures without caring for the consequences. It is the blindness of his rage, the rampagingly impractical nature of his tantrum/plan, that signifies that finally, something drastic will be done to push back against the smugness of what exists.Researchers have been applying a rigorous scientific approach to the question of which messages lead people to concede, comply and change. They have documented the sometimes-staggering impact of making a request in a standard way versus making the identical request in a different, better-informed fashion.

Besides the sheer impact of the obtained effects, there is another noteworthy aspect of the results: the process of persuasion is governed by psychological laws, which means that similar procedures can produce similar results over a wide range of situations. And, if persuasion is lawful, it is learnable. Whether possessed of an inherent talent for influence or not, whether insightful about the methods or not, whether a gifted artisan of the language or not, it is possible to learn scientifically established techniques that allow any of us to be more influential.
Importantly different from Influence is the science-based evidence of not just what best to say to persuade but also when best to say it. From that evidence, it is possible to learn how to recognise and monitor the natural emergence of opportune moments of influence. It is also possible to learn how to create those moments. Whether operating as a moment monitor or a moment maker, the individual who knows how to time a request, recommendation, or proposal properly will do exceedingly well. It’s about time(ing). From: Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade

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