I WOULD hate to be Chua Soi Lek at this point in time. With the general election looming, and Chinese Malaysian support for Barisan Nasional (BN) at an all-time low, it seems like the MCA is in for the toughest fight of its political life. So what can Chua do in the face of the seemingly insurmountable task to perform well in the elections? Here are some ideas that I would try, or would have tried, if I were him.
Nominate Ong Tee Keat for Gelang Patah
For sure, no politician would like to take on Lim Kit Siang in a Chinese-majority seat if they could help it. This means it would have been an excellent strategy to place Ong Tee Keat there, although the opportunity is now gone since the MCA has a nominated candidates’ list sans Tee Keat. If Ong had been fielded and won, it would have been a major boost for the MCA and the BN. And if Ong had lost, then good riddance to him. Either way, it would have been a win for Chua.
Praise the DAP’s Chinese credentials sky-high
The Chinese Malaysian vote seems to be lost anyway. So, this election is really about winning over fence-sitting Malay Malaysians. If these Malays sway to the BN, then it is all well and good. Otherwise, the BN itself would be at risk. So why not go after these fence-sitting Malays by promoting the DAP’s Chinese credentials? Tell everyone how great the DAP is to the Chinese. Publicise how the DAP favours the Chinese over everyone else. Explain in detail how a “Malaysian Malaysia” would ultimately be good for the Chinese over every other race. By this, Chua would be driving fence-sitting Malays to the BN, which includes the MCA, of course.
Zoom into individual candidates’ personal stories
There may be a general anti-MCA mood, but that does not mean people cannot favour particular individuals even if he or she happens to be from the MCA. Move away from big-picture issues. Focus on the candidates individually. Tell personal stories of their struggles, dreams, vision and ambition. Showcase them doing good to the community. Portray them as being humble, approachable and likeable. People may well conclude that since the MCA would fare badly in the elections anyway, why not give “this particular MCA candidate” a chance and a lifeline?
Moderate the propaganda
Propaganda is only effective if it is believed. And if the propaganda says there is nothing bad about the MCA and nothing good about the opposition, then people would just simply choose not to believe it. Effective propaganda must be a mixed bag. Some limited praise for the opposition, some limited critique of the BN, but overall steering people towards supporting the BN, is a better strategy. Continuing to shout that the MCA is the best of the best with an excellent report card is not going to get very far.
Tone down on Islam-bashing
The way Malaysian demographics go, there will simply be more and more Malay-majority constituencies. These Malay Malaysians are voters. They don’t like people who talk bad about Islam. And the MCA will need their votes. So, stop bashing Islam. Start demonstrating sensitivity and understanding of Islam. That would be just plain logical, wouldn’t it?
Start planning for the longer term
Like it or not, the elections are already underway. What can be done in the next few days would be limited. But a lot can be done in the next five years. So start working. Promote the Chinese language and culture to all communities. Increase the capacity of existing tertiary educational institutions affiliated with the MCA. Establish impeccable ties with China for economic opportunities. Start developing joint Malay-Chinese business co-operation in a genuine manner. Promote Chinese schools aggressively, even to the non-Chinese. Start developing private and international primary and secondary educational institutions.
In the words of one former Chief Justice now prominently displayed at the court buildings: “Buat kerja.”
Chan Kheng Hoe believes the Barisan Nasional will be the next federal government. Care for a wager, anyone?