So you have decided to be a Malaysian politician. Congratulations! Ambition is the first and most important step in moulding your (hopefully) long and illustrious career in the heart of Putrajaya. However, desire alone can only bring you so far as a politician. To help you be on your way, I have taken the liberty to compile a list of age-old tips and tricks that have helped current and past leaders ascend to (and stay in) the pinnacle of governance.
The secret to being a successful politician is rooted in rhetoric; the bulk of your job involves spinning complete bullshit and making it convincing to the general public. To accomplish that, you will need to master the art of doublespeak. You must pepper your speeches with meaningless acronyms and slogans like MSC, GTP, NKRAS, PEMANDU, ‘People First, Performance Now’, 1Murid 1Sukan and the current national buzzword- 1Malaysia. Never mind that most Malaysians have got no clue what these expressions signify; confusion is the intended effect, since a frazzled public is often an obliging public. Besides, 1Malaysia just sounds awesome.
The road to power is a long and torturous one and more often than not, there will be foes and rivals plotting to usurp you with every opportunity. How then do you guard your back from political assassination? Simple- by doing an Anwar Ibrahim, of course. In a country as sexually backwards as Malaysia, even the slightest hint of carnal exploits is enough to irreversibly damage a politician’s reputation. Many political careers have been ruined this way in the last decade, the most famous ones being the double assault on Anwar Ibrahim (poor chap), Chua Soi Lek and more recently, the Datuk T trio. If you can frame prove that your foe had some extramarital fun time with a pretty girl (or even better, a guy), your position in office will surely be fortified.
There is no honour in politics
One of the most important skills you should (and will) hone throughout your career is the ability to divorce your integrity at will. As demonstrated by Jelapang state assembly woman Hee Yit Foong, words mean nothing in the face of political adversity. In the midst of Perak’s constitutional crisis, she provided a belly-aching source of hilarity by changing her press statement one too many times. When confronted for allegedly attacking another assembly person with pepper spray, she went from ‘no pepper spray’ to ‘it was a pen drive/key chain’ when pressed further, and to ‘yes, but I picked up the canister from the floor’ when presented with photo evidence.
Hee Yit Foong attacking assembly person Yew Tian Hoe with her keychain. Image taken from here.
Bottom line: Just lie. The rakyat are probably too stupid to notice anyway.
How to deal with the Opposition
If there’s anything more annoying than a political rival, it has to be the opposition parties. These meddling kids are here for one and only one reason; to ensure that your rise to power is as turbulent as possible. How then do you curtail such obstinate dissenters? It’s really not that difficult. A classic method to deflect criticism is to say that the opposition has ‘twisted the issue’, as Ng Yen Yen has masterfully demonstrated in light of the recent Facebook fiasco. If that doesn’t work, hurling accusations, however baseless they may be, will do wonders. After all, opposition leaders have been hilariously labelled many things from communists to Christian insurgents; adding Zionist tools and perpetrators of treason to the pool should make little difference.
If all else fails, just round them up using one of the many draconian laws at your disposal and leave them to stew in prison for a while. It may be an unpopular move but hey, how else did Mahathir stay in power for 22 years?
An unlikely marriage
Hypocrisy and politics are inseparable; you cannot have one without the other. This statement is an open secret but then again, every society is built on lies. The only question is how believable the lie is. In Malaysia, hypocrisy has been a staple in the political scene since Mahathir’s regime, almost as if the truth can be hidden if enough lies are told. How else can we still call ourselves a democratic society, even when freedom of speech and election fraud run rampant, or have official inflation rates of 2% when prices feel like they have doubled? How else can our Inspector General of Police (IGP) claim that we live in safety when rape and police violence terrorize the streets, or have ministers preaching against corruption when it spreads like a pathogen within the administration? In an Orwellian nation like Malaysia, happiness is an illusion and hypocrisy is the puppet master.
The trump card of Malaysian politics
…. is the race and religion card. You’d be a fool not to take advantage of it in a country as polarised as Malaysia, where racism and positive discrimination are wired into the constitution. Fragmenting a society is the surest way to perpetually maintain control because homogenous society is a force to be reckoned with. When you pit Christians against Muslims, or haunt Indians using their caste system, or use perverse syllogisms such as ‘Chinese are the new Jews’, you inadvertently pit one community against another. Malaysia is rife with racial and religious undertones and with our highly superficial brand of unity, all it takes to spark a little infighting is a wild accusation. This Machiavellian concept of divide and conquer has been used to great political effect by figures such Napoleon, Caesar and (if you’re looking for some Malaysian flair) Mahathir.
And with that ends this ‘Dummie’s Guide To’-esque article on being a Malaysian politician. I hope that, armed with these career-saving tips, your political career will be protracted and fruitful. May your dictatorship be as long as your Swiss bank account is large.
Chien Young is a third year medical student who enjoys lol-ing at Malaysian politics.
Image taken from here.