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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CLAIMING THE MORAL HIGH GROUND

corridors_power
We must return to the time of how we did things back in 1998. Back in those days even the foreign media picked up what we said and quoted us in their news reports on Malaysia. Today, the foreign media regards what we say as just as incredible as what the government says. 
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Politics is about winning the hearts and minds of the people. That was why when the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) embarked on a campaign of terror the British decided not to retaliate with armed resistance (even though there were cases of such things happening, sometimes unsanctioned even).
The British decided that terror versus terror would only enable the CPM to gain more ground due to the sympathy factor. The British were seen as the occupiers and the CPM as those fighting to free the country from colonialism. Hence, on a ‘level playing field’, the CPM would win the moral high ground.
This was also probably why Gandhi chose passive resistance over active resistance. Then the Indians would be seen as the victims with the noble cause against the ‘evil’ British who resorted to violence. Because of this the Indians managed to claim the moral high ground and the British had no choice in the end but to concede defeat and grant India independence from Britain.
Take the various Middle East conflicts as an example. Both sides are shooting and bombing each other and we no longer know who is the aggressor and who is the victim. We are appalled by the high number of deaths and in the end have come to a conclusion that both sides are violent and do not treasure the lives of innocent people who are caught in the cross-fire and become ‘collateral damage’.
We no longer bother to follow the developments in the Middle East because we regard both sides as terrorists, and hence evil, whether it is the government in power or those who are trying to topple the government. We do not sympathise with the government or the rebels because both are invariably the reverse side of the same coin.
The Sri Lanka issue is one more example. Who, in the end, are the terrorists when both sides embark upon a reign of terror? And the same goes for many of those countries that suffer violence in the fight over territory and/or political power (which is what it is really all about in the end).
Are the Shias the goodies or the Sunnis who are the goodies? From the point of view of most people both the Shias and the Sunnis are baddies and they can wipe each other off the face of this earth as far as most people are concerned. Maybe less Muslims in this world (whether Shias or Sunnis) is better for us all.
That, in the end, would be the conclusion most of us would come to even though we should actually feel sorry for the ‘non-combatant’ women and children being massacred in these ‘holy wars’.
Malaysia, of course, has not reached the level of these countries (yet). Our fight is still a shouting match to see who can shout the most, the loudest, and the longest. We are still at the level of ‘I step on your father’s head and I dare you to step on my father’s head’ and ‘if you dare you start first’, ‘no, you start first’ — as how we used to fight in standard one in primary school.
Nevertheless, we still need to win the battle of the hearts and minds of the people and claim that moral high ground.
In 1998, when the Reformasi movement first exploded onto the Malaysian scene, we were wining the moral high ground. We were seen as those fighting a noble cause while the government was seen as fighting dirty.
That was about 15 years or so ago but since then things have changed a lot. Today, the opposition, too, uses lies and fabricated ‘evidence’ against the government and this is hurting the opposition cause. If we continue like this we are going to lose the moral high ground.
I have seen a lot of spinning from the opposition side that are either downright lies or a distortion and misrepresentation of the truth. In the beginning people might swallow all this hook, line and sinker. But eventually the truth will emerge and if you do this once too often people will no longer believe what you say.
We must return to the time of how we did things back in 1998. Back in those days even the foreign media picked up what we said and quoted us in their news reports on Malaysia. Today, the foreign media regards what we say as just as incredible as what the government says.
We not only want to win the hearts and minds of Malaysians. We also want to win in the international court of public opinion. This will be very difficult to achieve if what we say no longer sounds credible.
Someone has to rein in these ‘guerrillas’ who are hurting rather than helping the cause. These ‘soldiers’ need to be trained and guided on how to fight a good fight. Throwing bombs into the market place and killing innocent people just because the government also shot one of our people is not going to win converts.
And there are still a lot of fence-sitters out there who we need to convert but will shy away if all they see are two equally evil groups fighting over power without any care about the truth and decency.
Hmm…can this be regarded as my New Year message to Malaysians (fight lies with truth and not fight lies with more lies)?

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