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GE13 political marketing farm

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Satu Malaysia must be made, not bought from a gigantic mall of concerts and buffets, says Constantly Constant.

1Malaysia sell out
1Malaysia sell out

If George Orwell had to rewrite “Animal Farm” today, he would probably not critique Stalin’s special way of applying communism. He would probably not talk about how the farm animals revolted against the farmer and in turn were dominated and controlled by Napoleon the Pig.

He would probably talk about how politics became a market like any other market. Politics has become a market where politicians are the sellers of policies, slogans, flags and so on; and citizens are the consumers of these products.

As in many commercial transactions, customers search for the best offer, the most affordable product. They will usually search for a product that will maximise their own convenience without regard to that of others.

In this special political market, the best product is one that politicians think is favoured by the majority. Or, one they think that the majority will vote for, because they think that the more a product is advertised, the more people are convinced to ‘buy’ it i.e. vote for it.

As in many markets, consumers make their choices and must pay the price. In the political market, the electorate pay the price for their choices. It can be in money terms. The politicians we vote for increase taxes, implement wrong economic policies that open the door to inflation, offer more public opportunities, which can be a social cost too.

Our vote or political affiliation can result in marginalisation of certain groups in society, as happened to the communists in the USA during the McCarthy period (1950-1954, this period was also known as the Red Scare).

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As in all markets, political marketing follows certain patterns: political products are recycled to look new with apparent improvements made on the quality of promises. Politicians promise ‘singing tomorrows’, and change for a better life.

According to the same marketing principles, politicians sell what people want to buy. Not what they need.

Is Satu Malaysia … a joke? Satu Malaysia cannot be sold by anybody. Satu Malaysia cannot be bought by anybody.

In reality, Satu Malaysia has to be made by everybody, by the Rakyat, by both sellers and consumers. No one can make a profit from it. Everybody has to benefit from it.

If Orwell had to rewrite his book, he would perhaps take Penang as an example. The ruling party’s election campaign in Penang turned it into a market. Flags and banners were raised everywhere in order to sell products. The organsers were gathering in every corner to sell the “idea” and slogan of Satu Malaysia, with free food and concerts to catch the “attention” and imagination of the electorate. Penang was turned into a gigantic Mall, where political marketing was king in the period before elections.

Did the Rakyat ‘buy’ 1Malaysia?

The result of the election in Penang shows clearly that the Rakyat want to stand against this ‘horse-trading’ as they should against unjust laws. They massively voted for the Pakatan Rakyat coalition parties and proved that they were no more influenced by thousands of flags, posters, free food and other “free gifts” distributed by the BN.

Politics is no more a marketplace in Penang. Politics is politics, for the common good, and every free Malaysian has their own thoughts about it.

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The result of the election also shows that the Rakyat is actually cleverer than any political party. It is obvious that many Malaysians attended the BN’s 1Malaysia free dinners to satisfy their hunger or to listen to music. The Rakyat are not fools. They “ate all they could, but cast their votes elsewhere”.

However, even though the Federal Government has not been changed (yet?), even though the vote seems to have been “hijacked”, the Rakyat appear to be the winners. Or at least, the ones that have lost less than the political parties or institutions. The Rakyat have in fact gained a greater political awareness in these adverse circumstances and show determination to rise to the challenge.

“You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time (…). Stand up for your right”. –Bob Marley.

Constantly Constant is the pseudonym of intrepid traveller and observer of world affairs.

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