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Random political slogan generator!

WITH all the political tumult of the past year, it was perhaps inevitable that some tech-savvy individual cobbled together a little click-it-yourself instant-humour machine: the Malaysian Election Slogan Generator.

It’s a Flash widget, clearly a riff off curiosities like the Hipster Tee Shirt Generator. It randomly picks from three different categories — background colour, monochrome symbol, and stirring political motto — and combines them to create a pithy little political graphic. The slogan then gets read out, apparently by one of those text-reading programmes, so you get a robotic voice of uncertain gender saying: “Salam Perubahan”.


The DAP’s 2008 slogan
I managed to get one of the few that actually matched something in Malaysian politics by repeatedly clicking the “Generate!” button. The slogan was “Dare to Change”, with a white background and red rocket. If you remember, “Just Change It” was the slogan the DAP rolled out during the March 2008 general election. Then there’s the one with identical colours but a different symbol: that of a frog.

Slogans may also appear in Malay. A white fist on a red background with the caption “Berani Berubah” is similar to Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir’s trademark urge towards reform in Umno — which, if you recall, featured heavily in his (failed) race to become Umno Youth chief.

Isn’t it ironic?

Being random, it seems to be intentionally geared towards incidental irony. Of course, very many of the results will not make much sense. As far as I can tell, the slogan algorithm comes up with phrases by combining words/phrases for two separate pools, like so, in English:


First part:

Second part:

Obama of

Change

Dare to

Struggle

Vote for

Freedom

Malaysians against

Malaysia

Malaysians for

Bukit Selambau

Correct

Power

Time to

Bukit Gantang

Only one

Altantuya

United for

Choice

Reform for

Correct

People’s

Race


and in Malay:


First part:

Second part:

Berani

Berubah

Salam

Perjuangan

Majulah

Bangsa

Berani kerana

Bukit Gantang

Kuat untuk

Bukit Selambau

Berjuang demi

Iman

Malaysia

Tuanku

Daulat

Kawan

Setia

Bersatu

Bersatu untuk

Perubahan

Masanya

Kebenaran


Those are incomplete lists of the words I’ve noticed, and I’m not sure whether all have equal probability of showing up. But just by looking at them you can see how duds like “Vote for Correct”, “Time to Altantuya”, and “Berjuang demi Perjuangan” come up pretty frequently.

Chinese or Tamil phrases are absent, sadly — except for the words Makkal (People’s), Sakthi (Power) and Poratham (Struggle), which seem to surface in both languages indiscriminately, without rhyme or reason. I suppose the author of the widget felt they were too iconic to be left out.

There was one with the slogan “Dare to Race”, with a white umbrella on a black background. This reminded me of Kamarul Ramizu Idris, and his Parti Iman SeMalaysia (PIS), in Bukit Gantang.

Whether or not he gets his candidate’s deposit back is an open question. I’d say it’s more pressing concern for the 13 independents of Bukit Selambau. I got one with a rooster — the symbol for Khamis Awang — and the cheery: “Only one Bukit Selambau”.

I hear the constituency is quite charming.

Interchangeable politics

Symbols can be of the political parties, or the 20 emblems that the Election Commission has sanctioned for use in the by-elections. Some others, like the aforementioned frog, I’m sure have been included for colour. This one’s a gem: a blue background, with a submarine, and the motto: “Malaysians against Altantuya”.

Another apt one seemed to hint at the PAS-Umno national unity government Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang proposed not too long ago: a white background, with a green Umno emblem. “Bersatu untuk Bangsa” was the caption.


Bersatu untuk Bangsa

I played with the generator for a while, and mused at what it said about the interchangeability of Malaysian politics.

What the Malaysian Election Slogan Generator’s anonymous creator is saying is too easy an argument, of course — too much snark and not enough substance. Of course, not all politicians are created equal, and it’s vital that the citizenry pay attention.

But it does feel as if there is a dearth of wrestling with ideology, these days. We know that Umno is occupied with retaining power; we suspect that much of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is concerned about gaining power. The news is full of manoeuvring and tit-for-tats. A lone few speak out but these have very little political traction; parties that actually stand by their principles, sincerely and without grandstanding, are so rare.

Anyway, it was time to get back to work, so I clicked on “Generate!” one last time. It gave me a white no-entry sign, on a black background, with the slogan “Malaysians for Malaysia”. I thought it was a little heavy-handed.

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One Response to “Random political slogan generator!”

  1. Rajan R says:

    Hmm, no link to said generator.


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