Like most Malays, Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak does not see the benefit of learning to play chess seriously.
For many years now, I’ve been saying that if Malays want to be smart and to compete with the Chinese, they must teach their young to play chess. But leaders have ignored this advice about harnessing our akal and chose instead to pander to emotion. They get emotional about things that don’t really matter to them. For example, in this election year the rallying cry is for Malays to save UMNO (which actually means save Najib), when the real issue is how to save their jobs, their mortgages and their land.
What is revealing in the run-up to this General Election is how Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has totally outplayed the Prime Minister. If this were a chess game, Najib’s opening move was a disaster. When Bersatu was formed he should not have allowed the party to register. People would have protested and rebuked Najib for being cruel and mendacious, but at least Tun Dr Mahathir would not have had a party through which to contest this election. Tun would not have been able to provide dissatisfied UMNO members with an alternative Malay party.
With the current massive show of support for Bersatu from UMNO Malays, Najib has been forced to take rearguard action, like threatening to deregister the party and forcing them to have an annual general meeting when one is not even due under the party’s constitution. But it’s too late now, for Bersatu is alive and kicking.
Najib then resorted to redrawing electoral boundaries, while the poor officers of the Election Commission have even had to register phantom voters, up to a few hundred of them in one address, to save the Barisan Nasional in certain constituencies. This is foolish and serves no useful purpose.
Bringing Malays together was exactly what Tun Dr Mahathir wanted. His pitch was simple: we in Bersatu will protect Malay interests better than Najib has. That has not been difficult to sell – look at what’s been happening with FELDA, FELCRA and MARA. Look at Tabung Haji. Look at the loss of Bumiputera lands in Johor. I am sure even more “dirt” will surface soon. Tun has again come up tops.
Some BN strategist boasted of their near absolute control of the 65 seats in Sabah and Sarawak. I only have two observations to make: if Tun and the Pakatan Harapan capture more seats than the BN in the Peninsula (according to my calculations the count currently stands at 95 to 70 in favour of Pakatan, despite postal votes and phantom voters), then why would East Malaysians favour Najib? They won’t. They are not robots; they will deal for sure.
Secondly, if Najib is a serious chess player, he should be wondering why Tun has made no overtures to Sabah and Sarawak at all. It’s naïve to think that he has no plans at all for East Malaysia. Chances are his plans are already well-entrenched, and that they focus on more than just Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.
Under these circumstances, some UMNO Ministers and Parliamentarians should ponder the game more seriously. Maybe they should keep their options open. Maybe they should refrain from taking the loyalist position of Datuk Seri Salleh Keruak, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan and a few others who hold Najib up as a faultless and great leader. Maybe it’s time they learn to play chess. Three months is enough to learn the basic moves to save their skin.