Penang must be careful lest “green wave” can turn into “green tsunami”

PENANG Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow is right to sound the alarm bell that if left unchecked the “green wave” phenomenon that has invaded the northern Malay heartland can result in Pakatan Harapan (PH) losing as many as six to seven seats in the 16th General Election (GE16).

Taking the cue from the recently concluded Padang Serai election, the Penang DAP chairman is very right to assume so – how the tide has swung in favour of Perikatan Nasional (PN) in that a deemed PH stronghold could fall to the rising Bersatu-PAS influence.

PN’s victory in Padang Serai saw the coalition successfully increase the number of parliamentary seats it won in GE15 on Nov 19 to 74 seats nationwide and strengthened its position in Kedah after winning 14 out of 15 parliamentary seats in the state.

Datuk Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik

Even the losing PH candidate, lawyer and Kedah PKR secretary Mohamad Sofee Razak, has described the concluded election as not a “level fight” as his PH opponent banged on race and religion to “scare Malay voters in the rural areas”.

In Penang mainland alone, Kepala Batas and Tasek Gelugor which were traditional Barisan Nasional (BN) strongholds fell to the nascent coalition but the biggest upset has to be Permatang Pauh where PH’s Nurul Izzah Anwar was defeated in her family’s Permatang Pauh ‘fortress”.

In view of the looming “green wave”, two Penang lawmakers urged the state PH to be more aggressive and proactive in improving its propaganda and communication strategies to counter PN’s “fear tactics” along racial and religious lines.

“This is their propaganda. If you listen to the speeches by (PN chairman Tan Sri) Muhyiddin Yassin, (PAS president Tan Sri) Hadi Awang or Kedah Menteri Besar (Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor), there is nothing much apart from creating fear,” Balik Pulau MP Datuk Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik told Malaysiakini.

Bakhtiar went on to emphasise the need to step up PH’s communication strategies, especially on platforms such as TikTok to counter its opponent’s narrative.

“When I went to villages during the campaign, I found youngsters always on their phones watching TikTok videos. This is something we need to work hard on,” observed the Penang PKR deputy chairman.

Faiz Fadzil

“Of course, we cannot ban TikTok but we need to somehow control the content on the platform, especially those spreading slander and false accusations.”

Elsewhere, Amanah’s Permatang Pasir state assemblyman Faiz Fadzil also censured PN for “fanning racial and religious sentiments” as well as “disseminating misinformation” during the election campaign.

“The accusations of communists, Israeli agents and such things are all lies made up of nothing,” he told Malaysiakini. “The Penang government needs to be serious about this campaign tactic if they want to maintain an absolute majority in the state because they are all mainly attacking DAP.” he said – Dec 9, 2022

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