In about 3 weeks time, Semenyih, a semi urban state constituency in Pakatan held Selangor, will see a regrouped and rejuvenated UMNO take on the pretender to their throne, Bersatu.
For Bersatu’s survival, they must prevail and defend their almost 9,000 vote majority which they obtained less than a year ago. If they lose, then even the most rabid Bersatu party interloper will have to admit what we have been saying for months already: The Pakatan Government has lost the support of the people and will be wiped out at the next General Election.
Today we will examine why this will be the case and provide the reasons behind this. This is a standard Rembau Times modus operandi when we are convinced that a shock result is all but assured.
Number One: Bersatu never really won the Malay vote
For a race based party like Bersatu, it will command some degree of political legitimacy if it can claim to represent the voices of the Malays. If it can’t, then Bersatu lacks political legitimacy.
Now any analyst who looks through the GE-14 results will come to the same conclusion that Bersatu did not carry the Malay vote, but won due in urban and semi-urban mixed areas. Bersatu was totally wiped out in the Malay belt . So in this regard, Bersatu cannot claim that they are defending the Malay vote because it never was theirs to begin with. Ever since the last 8 months, Bersatu has not really articulated a struggle that was superior to UMNO. UMNO on the other hand has made a very clear pitch that it is now pursuing unity among Muslims as its goal and that is a very powerful pitch for the Malay voting base. This is of course to be expected as Bersatu does not really have a struggle but rather is a reactionary organisation. Since Najib is no longer PM, Bersatu does not really have any more reason to exist
Number Two: How is Bersatu’s internal network?WEAK!
Yes – Bersatu’s grassroots network can be described by the dreaded Trump 4 letter word. The public views it as a rather dysfunctional network with very public fights. This is because there are too many factions within Bersatu trying their best to capitalise on the current good fortune before it is too late. The only struggle that seems to resonate is the “pay me now” culture. Bersatu should have copied UMNO and used their new found status as the “party which is the backbone of the Government (Minister wise)” to open up as many “cawangans” as possible so as to create a competing grassroots network. Bersatu should have adopted the strategy of a restaurant chain which has detailed pre-opening, opening, sales ramp up and stabilisation plan. All these plans are lacking in Bersatu’s organisation so the party divisions lack direction and in the end, end up fighting with one another. This is one weakness of Mahathir led organisations, a fast ramp up followed by a spectacular blow up. The organisations usually start on the back of Mahathir’s skill as a politician but are not able to sustain themselves, leading to the eventual “spectacular blow up.”
UMNO or even PAS on the other hand has had countless decades in developing its own grassroots network. Their grassroots network permeate throughout Malay society , especially at the rural level where personal relationships matter a lot. This was very evident in the Cameron Highlands by election which saw how motivated Ketua Bahagian UMNO were in ensuring that their voting districts were under BN’s control from the start of campaigning to polling day.
Number Three: Bersatu does not understand marketing. At all.
What is marketing? It is the set of actions designed to engender a positive response among the target population. In this case, the positive response is to either sign up as a Bersatu member or become at least Bersatu friendly. The target population: the Malays. The strategy by Bersatu?
Make Syed Sadiq play football? Organise visits by Minister Rina Harun? Or the best, free oil change!
And what will it accomplish? A careful marketing plan is very clear on the segment within the population. Is Bersatu after the youths vs the middle aged vs the older voters? Single vs married? Male vs Female? Liberal vs Conservative? Self Employed vs Government civil servant? Driving cars vs riding motorcycles? Rural vs urban? Active on Facebook vs Active on Instagram vs Not active on social media?
So you can see, there are a huge number of segments one can come up with to slice and dice a target market. For each segment, the party will need to position the Bersatu brand in an appropriate way in order to appeal to the target segment.
Number Four: Failure to assert leadership.
What is the Number One issue which affected the Malay voting preference over the last 8 months? Without a doubt it willl be the death of fireman Adib over the Seafield riots. Where was the control by Bersatu over the loud mouth DAP and Hindraf MPs? Where was the follow up action to sack Waythamoorty and Kula Segaran? Nothing.
What is worse is that we have really mediocre talent now holding high offices. If you put an Umno stalwart like Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, Dato Seri Ismail Sabri or Tan Sri Annuar Musa against Minister Mazlee Malik or Minister Rina Harun, who comes out looking second best?
But that requires two things which Bersatu currently lacks:
Number one, a clearly identifiable struggle.
Number two, acknowledgement by Tun Mahathir that organisation is not his best skill and he should leave it to the experts to get things done.