Is the Opposition Losing on Purpose?
Today I read an interesting theory — namely that the opposition parties (specifically the Democratic Action Party) may intentionally not be going all-out to change things in the country.
Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if that were true. The opposition leadership has been markedly averse to changing how the opposition parties are run, how their campaigns are run.
If these people can't bring themselves to change themselves, how on earth do they expect to change the country? It is the height of hypocrisy for them to want things to be different in the country when they can't even lead their own parties through change.
The hallmark of opposition politics appears to be complete recalcitrance towards change. This is especially so when it comes to the opposition leadership.
How long, for example, has Lim Kit Siang been opposition leader? Cumulatively, almost three decades! Yet this is the same opposition which was correctly decrying Mahathir for holding on to power for too long — why the hypocrisy? Is Lim such a bad leader that he can't groom anyone capable of succeeding him?
(And incidentally, his successor will most likely be his son, Lim Guan Eng. So much for talk of being clean and avoiding nepotism — it's just more of the same in the DAP, folks!)
That isn't to say Parti Keadilan Rakyat is blameless either. PKR has yet to prove that it can effect change within itself, and independent political analysts like Khoo Kay Peng have suggested that Anwar Ibrahim's recent show of authoritarian leadership is markedly hypocritical for a man preaching democracy and change from the grassroots.
And we haven't even gotten around to discussing the campaigning style. The opposition parties have been running on the same old tired platform of greater human rights, greater racial and socioeconomic equality, and reduced corruption for decades.
I have a whole book of Lim Kit Siang's rantings about these issues sitting on my desk right now — Time Bombs in Malaysia was published over 30 years ago. Today, the names have changed, but the issues are still the same.
Even newer parties like PKR have been sucked into the trap of fighting old battles. Anwar's biggest crowd-pullers and attention-drawers at his stump speeches in the campaign for the Ijok by-election were his allegations of corruption and decrying of the Altantuya murder case.
These are issues which will bring out the opposition base — all well and good. But the opposition base can't win an election — one can only claim it would work in a true two-party system, and even then, in places where it has been used (e.g. by the Republicans in the United States), it has been argued that appealing to the base hurts more than it helps in the long run.
With all this in mind, why is the opposition so stuck in its old ways? The definition of insanity is doing something over and over and expecting different results — so the opposition must either be insane, or it must be losing on purpose.
Obviously the spirited folks at the bottom of the party hierarchy have nothing to do with this conspiracy, if there is one at all. (Otherwise, the conspiracy would have leaked long ago — conspiracies thrive on few people knowing the secret.)
But if the men and women who set the path of the party are conspiring to lose, who would know? Obviously this is an unlikely possibility (to say the least) — but if the alternative is labeling these people insane, which makes more sense?
We need an opposition that's serious about change. We need an opposition that has ideas about how to effect change, and knows how to frame its platform in concrete terms which appeal to the centrist vote. An opposition that can't do this is an opposition that will always be the opposition.