People aged 55 and above are less likely to be in sync with the here and now, making them more irritable and less tolerant to positive changes
To keep this group despaired, Mahathir feeds them with fake news regarding the state of affairs in our country.
The more despaired they are, the more likely they are to seek a return of Mahathirism.
Thankfully, the government seems to be doing a good job in shifting their moods by proving that Mahathir is a liar.
But the truth campaign doesn’t seem to be impacting on our youth.
The only way Najib will succeed in capturing a bulk of the youth vote is if Khairy – who seems to have a way with the younger generation – plays an active role these coming weeks by telling our juniors that “everything is ok.”
THE THIRD FORCE
As the nation prepares to go to the front this coming 9th of May 2018, political pundits and analysts from across the divide are attempting to call each other’s bluff with claims and counterclaims purporting the truth. But they’re in denial. The strokes of wisdom they’re imparting hardly depicts the sensibilities abound, sensibilities that are due to determine the outcome of the 14th general election (GE14). In a sense, our pundits and analysts are just as emotionally driven as the bulk of the voting bloc is.
Let me put it to you this way:
There has never been a time in Malaysia’s history – or the history of the world, for that matter – where a former premier challenged a sitting Prime Minister for the top job. That’s 22 years we’re talking about, a number that’s bound to have struck some chord or other with those aged 55 and above. And we’re talking a group that’s likely to have tasted the sweet and sour of Mahathirism, a cancer that once plagued this nation.
Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak successfully cured UMNO of the malignancy, meaning, the question is no longer if UMNO is reformed or capable of steering the nation forward. On the contrary, our pundits and analysts ought to be asking if our veterans – i.e., those aged 55 and above – are susceptible to the malignance of nostalgia. The pundits, in particular, ought to know by now that being Asian means being restrained by religious paradigms that, for generations, have indoctrinated us to derive inspiration from the past.
But the past isn’t always what it is cut out to be.
And it works the same for most other religions, be it those philosophically derived or the ones hinged on revelations of God. Hinduism, for instance, relates to the tales of Gods and demi-gods in surroundings that are vastly mythological and somewhat heavenly. Buddhism, on the other hand, is centred on the spiritual escapades of the young Siddhartha whose sole purpose became the discovery of truth.
It’s poetic at best.
And it’s that poetry which we Asians have been taught to harmonise with. Being creatures of habit, we have, over generations, learned to subscribe to the delusion that the past is always more innocent and virtuous than the future. As a result, we became slow in adapting to positive changes in our surroundings and learned only to focus on the negative. Without realizing, it is we who drove ourselves into an era of despair without anyone needing to do anything.
And the more we despair the present, the more likely we are to glorify the past by looking through poetic lenses. The older generation is more susceptible to such behavior than is our youth. They’re less likely to be in sync with the here and now, making them more irritable and less tolerant to positive change. Suffice to say, if Dr Mahathir Mohamad is seeking the support of Malaysians, he’s most likely to find his loyalists drifting amidst this group, a group comprising chiefly of those aged 55 years and above.
To keep this group despaired, he keeps impressing upon them that the country is going to the dogs. The more despaired they are, the more they seem willing to give Mahathirism another shot. That is to say, the more they’re told stories of how Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak ‘siphoned’ RM42 billion from 1MDB, the more they’re inclined to think of the eighties and nineties as “that era where things just went along fine without the billion dollar scandals we’re hearing of today.”
In short, they are the ones we refer to as the sentimentalists, i.e., people with a wistful affection for a past that may not have played out exactly the way they remember it.
That is a question that will never be answered until the day the ballots are cast. Still, we can rest assured that Najib’s truth campaign is effective in keeping this group tilted closer and closer towards reality. For instance, when the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the nineties forex scandal discovered that RM31.5 billion of Bank Negara’s reserves was gambled away through the forex market, the sentimentalists were jolted out of their ‘poetic’ dreams and forced to reevaluate their position on Mahathirism.
But not the youth.
As far as as those aged 35 and below are concerned, the RCI only proved that the Government of Malaysia (GoM) was stuck in the past. They’re the products of an information era that is fast exploding, an era where the the guy who insulted the Agong yesterday is considered ancient history. If news broke today that Hishammuddin slapped Rafidah Aziz, it would trigger frenzy and flood cyber spheres with meaningless gossip. But try telling the one about Mahathir locking guys up under the ISA, and you get nothing.
And that’s not even the worst part.
The worst part is that adolescents are finding it cool these days to be seen opposed to government. Without a political past to latch on, the only way they get their kicks is if they were to fly straight into the face of establishment. Mahathir is presenting them with more and more reason to do so by pettifogging every narrative on Najib with fiction. Then, the minute the Prime Minister reacts, the youth begin to blame him for victimising a ‘gentle’ and old man whose sole purpose is to ‘save’ Malaysia for the sake of the younger generation.
The old man knows better than anyone that it takes very little to con the impressionable young. But that’s just how the world spins today – these days, the only way you’re going to lure the youth to your side is if you’re capable of drawing them away from the spin zone. And that requires a wow factor, the very kind Khairy Jamaluddin seems to radiate each time he’s seen in the presence of our juniors.
Like a moth to a flame, Khairy demands the kind of attention Mahathir is seeking from those aged 21 to 35. And that’s a reality the Prime Minister needs to embrace if it’s a landslide he seeks. With the Youth and Sports Minister on his side, there is no way on earth he’ll fail to gain the support of our impressionable young, a group that’s likely to make the difference between winning the election and winning it big.
Then, and only then are we talking a return to Barisan Nasional’s glory years.