Remember when we were still studying in schools, all of us were cheeky, mischievous and naughty. We were always mudslinging, insulting and smearing each other with hurtful words. Some might even end up punching and kicking each other. But after a day or two, we all get back together again as friends. I guess each of us experienced it before. We fought and grew up with our friends.
To a certain extent, we may have nicknames that stuck to us, probably for the rest of our schooling years. Despite all the physical and emotional attacks, we were naïve at that time, and I believe it was never meant. It was never meant to affect our life; it is not to disrupt our career pursuit or affect our payroll. It was just kids being mischievous. Those were the days.
As we grow up, many take this seriously. In politics, many used it as strategy to gain upper hand over their opponents. It may also happen at work.
The US presidential primaries are a good example of all the negative attacks in a political campaign. The top candidates; Sanders, Clinton, Trump, Cruz and the others are attacking each other as criminals, racists, sexists, liars.
Malaysia is not spared from these negative types of attacks. We can see that politicians from both sides trying to discredit each other in many cases. Whether the Prime Minister is legally correct or incorrect on the 1MDB or the RM2.6 billion donation issue; I believe a massive smear campaign was conducted against him. When the issue arises, it was already perceived that he is guilty; even before any investigation has been started.
Such dirty politics were even done to affect some of our personal lives. Back in the local politics in Penang, a few of my comrades in Gerakan were affected by such gutter politics. Some of my comrades’ bosses in their job were given the pressure to warn them not to be active in politics. Some received threats through mails. Some even have clients refusing not to deal with them anymore. Worse is, one of us have had their personal space invaded; by being recorded on video.
All politicians have a positive rating in the minds of the people; although researches are usually only done on more popular figures such as the Prime Ministers or the Presidents. Ironically, I think positive rating does not matter anymore in today’s politics. Probably researchers should start to conduct research on negative ratings instead. In order to win the hearts of the people, it seems that every politician just have to make sure that their opponent’s negative ratings are higher. It seems like it is the easiest strategy of winning in politics compared to really putting effort in developing the nation and its people.
Despite how much we might say we hate negative or dirty politics; unfortunately it works. Negative publicity is run by campaigns because they work.
People pay more attention to and are more likely to spread negative impressions. Who rushes to the television to watch good news? Imagine when the news of the RM2.6 billion political funds or the disappearance of MH370 was reported on the television. On the next morning when we meet people, everyone will be discussing about it. Do we do that when we read the news about Malaysia being one of the most competitive countries in the whole world or when the crime rate decreases? Probably the value of our ringgit is the best example to refer to. When the value of the ringgit drops, everyone talks about it and criticises the government, but when it rises, nobody talks about it.
Everything we most likely talk about is an emergency, threat, disaster or controversial issues. Don’t blame the media for it. It is not the social media either. It is us, ironically.
We respond to negative news and negative attacks. We pay too little attention to positive information.
It’s time for the people to push for positive news and politics in our community. It’s time to speak about positive information.