Mahathir is seeking face time from TV3

“No amount of literature depicting Mahathir as a Machiavellian is going to influence the internet savvy youth, who probably couldn’t give a hoot if Bank Negara gambled away RM31.5 billion through the forex market. However, a minute or two of ‘face time’ is enough for him to drive home the message that he’s so concerned about our wellbeing, he’s willing to spend hours upon hours away from his grandchildren just to defend our rights and liberties”

THE THIRD FORCE

Dr Mahathir Mohamad isn’t aiming for the Malay vote. On the contrary, he is after persons aged 35 or below who aren’t aware of his leadership style or Machiavellian ways. The former premier hopes to ride on this lack of awareness by preventing the youth from ‘punishing’ him at the ballot box. To do that, he assigned the DAP’s Red Bean Army (RBA) to influence them by pervading their minds with unsavoury thoughts against government.

Now, while Lim Kit Siang has no qualms about all this, he is dead sure that his onetime arch nemesis commands the respect of enough Malay elders to lure a bulk of them away from UMNO. Driven by such conviction, he agreed to step aside and allow Mahathir to take the lead as Pakatan Harapan chairman. The DAP de facto chief is optimistic that the Malay elders will ditch Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak in favour of Mahathir now that Pakatan Harapan has named the former premier its choice Prime Minister.

In other words, what Kit Siang wrote in his blog yesterday was a testament of his convictions towards Mahathir’s pull factor as the nation’s longest serving Prime Minister. According to him, the former premier is probably the opposition coalition’s only hope of attracting rural Malay votes come the 14th general election (GE14) which, in a sense, is true.

“We have two formidable challenges: firstly, to sustain or even increase the voter turn-out and electoral support for political change in the GE14 as compared to GE13.

“Secondly, a more uphill task to ensure that there is a political tsunami in the rural areas to match the political tsunami in the urban areas,” he said.

But Mahathir prefers to play it safe.

He seems to think that the majority of Malays, both rural and urban, are likely to shun PPBM unless they’re 35 years of age or below. He believes that the risk of putting too much hope on a Malay Tsunami would cost Pakatan dearly at the ballot box. Experience taught him that the majority of UMNO Malays, no matter how resentful they were of anyone or anything, would never abandon the party at the expense of granting the DAP a free pass into government.

Locked into the youth agenda, Mahathir’s mission since late 2015 has been to portray himself as a warm, witty and “grandfatherly figure” who is being “mercilessly attacked by the Najib regime.” That explains the countless U-Turns and laughable irony with which he repeatedly criticises the Prime Minister. Every time he says something stupid, he is merely attempting to clock more ‘face time’ on national television to showcase his “willingness to fight for justice despite being ridiculed as being old and senile by Najib and his men.”

For instance, when he ‘blurted’ out that leaders who stayed in power for too long were prone to nepotism, he expected Barisan politicians to point out the irony by insisting that it was he who granted patronage to his own sons “by turning them into billionaires.” Should that have happened, he would immediately have accused those politicians of being “fed ‘dedak’ by Najib” the minute reporters begin swarming around him for comment.

The more reporters seek his opinions, the more you’re likely to catch his face on Buletin Utama, KiniTV and Berita RTM. The coverage would present him an opportunity to switch into his “grandfatherly, witty yet compassionate” mode to impress upon our youth that he would be a ‘fun’ Prime Minister to have for a change. He is aware, as have been political scientists and philosophers since the days of Marx, that humans are more influenced by what they see than they are by what they read or hear from others.

Yes, no amount of literature depicting Mahathir as a Machiavellian is going to influence the internet savvy youth, who probably couldn’t give a hoot if Bank Negara gambled away RM31.5 billion through the forex market. However, a minute or two of ‘face time’ is enough for him to drive home the message that he’s so concerned about our wellbeing, he’s willing to spend hours upon hours away from his grandchildren just to defend our rights and liberties.

So you see, should Barisan Nasional leaders persist with entertaining this fellow, they’re just going to end up painting a picture of a “grandfatherly figure” being victimised by the ‘cruel’ Najib regime. Instead, they should focus more on issues that concern our youth and less on the former premier’s ridiculous rants. Remember, the social media is where a majority of those aged 35 or below spend most of their leisure hours. If Barisan is bent on responding to every single thing he says, get a cyber team to do the job instead of giving him the ‘face time’ he so desperately desires.

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