By : SELVARAJA SOMIAH
ANWAR IBRAHIM, is having sleepless nights NOT because he will be taking on popular Najib Tun Razak in the coming 13th General Elections but because he will have to counter Najib’s huge power of communication.
Leaders of the Pakatan Rakyat think that Najib will use his government’s budget for various ministries in the coming six months to propagate himself and his government’s achievements.
It can be done legally and, Pakatan Rakyat know, it will also be done smartly. Besides the budget for 2013 which will be tabled in Parliament this September 28, the government is going to be playing Santa Claus promising benefits to current voters at the expense of future generations. The government will borrow massively; that create debt, which future families must pay back with interest.
The Pakatan’s estimate is that before the elections, Najib will unleash material for his publicity and propaganda like never before. A senior Pakatan leader told me, ”Our estimate says it will be anything in the range of 1 billion Ringgit.”
But a DAP leader from Penang puts the figure much higher. He says, “Najib will use various budgets in the range of 2 billion Ringgit to gear up for the elections. Only if there is a model code of conduct then only he will he use party funds.
According to a senior Pakatan leader, who is a member of the party’s counter-strategy team, it is very difficult to segregate the government’s publicity and Najib’s personal and political publicity.
It is believed that Najib has massive plans to publicise his achievements both before and during the elections.
The entire publicity of the Malaysian government which ALWAYS means Prime Minister Najib’s publicity — is being supervised by his most trusted bureaucrat and principal secretary.
It has been found that Najib’s office has smart plans, in this election year, to promote Najib on YouTube.
The online video channel MAY sign an agreement to insert a 10-second video clip of Najib in millions of videos listed on its site. If this agreement is signed, it will be a never-before-done kind of political campaign on an international platform by a Malaysian leader.
Unconfirmed reports claim that the agreement may cost upward of 5 million ringgit a day and it will run for weeks till the election. It is well-known that Najib has accounts on Facebook, Twitter and many other sites, and that he is one of the most popular political leaders on social media sites. His account is believed to be run by trusted techies from the United States of America.
Najib’s office in Putrajaya is one of the most smartly operated offices as far as news, information and reference material collection is concerned, where he takes the help of most trusted techies. Najib also has studios and supportive technology to make publicity material both in Putrajaya and in Pekan, Pahang and at his home in KL.
The prime minister has a full-time expert to make his films, videos and documentaries. Najib’s office is also in negotiation to award a massive order for a 1Malaysia booklet showcasing his achievements.
Not well known, or appreciated, is the fact that Najib is a first-rate copywriter with a folksy and populist style. He loves writing slogans and prose for posters and political graffiti etc.
The Najib government has even special plans for a publicity blitz in the Orang Asli villages. There are 147,412 orang asli in Malaysia and the majority of them reside in 869 villages in Peninsular Malaysia, comprising around 0.6 per cent of the Malaysian population.
Most of them are divided into three major ethnic groups – Negrito, Senoi and Proto-Malays –and Pahang tops the list of having the most number of Orang Asli 54,293.
Huge LCD screens and mobile vans have been ordered, with huge budget for travel to orang asli villages to publicise the government’s achievements. Just this March Najib had announced an additional allocation of RM750mil, of which RM151mil has been earmarked for water supply projects to be spread out over the 869 orang asli villages.
Some Pakatan Rakyat leaders allege that the Najib government spends money even to get ‘Likes’ for Najib on social media sites. One of the DAP leaders involved in his party’s publicity and planning complains, “For every click on ‘Like’ 1 Ringgit is spent.
It is already known that APCO Worldwide, the US-based multinational, has been engaged to do publicity work for Najib.