By : JAIKOL SITUN (LLM; LLB; BA (Hons)
CAN you remember the George Foreman v Muhammad Ali fight dubbed the 'Rumble in the Jungle' in Zaire in 1974? For the first 5 or 6 rounds, Ali was bludgeoned by the brute force and power of the world heavyweight champion, Foreman.
Then, Foreman inexplicably began to lose out of steam enabling the challenger, Ali, to throw some of his old stuff back. With each sniff at Foreman’s mighty frame, Ali’s confidence grew. In the 8th round, a left-right combination from Ali knocked Foreman down to the canvas.
If you were too young then or not even been born yet, you would have heard about or seen the Manny Pacquiao v Juan Manuel Marquez non-title fight in Las Vegas, USA last year on TV.
Pacquiao was leading on points until the 5th round. But at the end of the following round, out of nowhere, Marquez threw the mother of all sucker punches. It hit the target like one stray excocet missile. Pacquiao fell flat on his face, completely rendered out of commission.
If you are into boxing or follow sporting events like boxing, you probably could not help likening the possible outcome of the on-going rivalry between Najib & company and Anwar & company in the current Malaysian General Election with those classic boxing duels.
Barisan Nasional (BN) have for so long been on the receiving end of incessant attacks from the opposition, and deservedly so. They were fuelled with so much ammunition in regards to so many issues.
You name it, it is all there, including mismanagement of the economy, allegation of corruption, high car prices, rising national debt, spiralling inflation, racial and religious discrimination, issuance of false MyKads to thousands of illegal immigrants, alleged government involvement and, or cover-up in the Lahad Datu “terrorist” incident, the list is infinitely endless.
In the UK and USA, you would only need a couple of contentious issues to nail the incumbent government and bring them to their knees.
Just a few weeks ago, BN was showing all the signs of a vanquished Ali or a humiliated Marquez. All of a sudden, BN seem to have found a new lease of life. Was it due to Najib’s leadership renaissance, or complete failure by the opposition to capitalise on earlier advantages and maintain the momentum? It seems like a bit of both. As in the previous general election, over-confidence, egotistical individuals, seemingly chaotic party machinery, in-fighting and questionable leadership qualities proved to be Pakatan Rakyat (PR)’s undoing. Should Anwar & company lose this election again, they would have nobody else to blame, but themselves.
Anwar has clearly recognised the now gaping chink in his Pakatan Rakyat (PR)’s armour. He has so much to do in such a little time left. In contrast, from Perlis to Sabah, BN seem self-assured. They are all smiles as if they have already won.
Anwar has no time for reflection of what might have been. He has to regroup in warp speed in key States such as Sabah and Sarawak. He can no longer afford to antagonise the local non-BN parties of these two States as he desperately needs their favour to propel him to Putrajaya and achieve his dream of forming a new federal government and becoming Prime Minister himself.
He has also got to appreciate the fact that the people of Sabah and Sarawak have a fundamentally different mind-set that those of West Malaysia where they generally have to choose between BN and PR. In Sabah and Sarawak, people’ political allegiance are influenced by other factors and considerations such as Borneo identity, autonomy, lost rights, equal partners, and respect by their West Malaysian’s counterparts.
If Anwar & company were to avoid the ignominy of losing a highly winnable match like those of Foreman or Pacquiao, he has got to ditch his hardline approach and be prepared to give generous concessions and bite the bullet, so to speak.
To heed only to his circle of friends would be fatal. He has to think further outside the box and engage on other loosely affiliated allies. To back down on earlier policies, decisions or demands does not necessarily portray him to be a weak and indecisive leader. In view of the resurgence of BN counterattack, there is no shame in doing that. On the other hand, it reflects that he is being reasonable, flexible, compromising, approachable, willing to listen and not autocratic and, or dictatorial. The latter leaders have no place in a democratic society such as Malaysia.