The Grip Of Infamy. Episode 23. By R. Sittamparam
Episode 23 (Scroll down the Literature section to read earlier episodes of this serialised Malaysian novel)
The Tun Besar’s speech at his first campaign meet at Chowlay – widely circulated over social media and accessed through their smartphones – had enabled the people of Merekasia to recognise who their saviour was.
Thana could see that people saw in Jaliluddin the answer to all their troubles of rising cost of living, unaffordability of houses and mismanagement of public institutions and facilities.
He noted that the crowds began growing with each progressive campaign meet by Angkatan Penyelamat leaders whilst drastically dwindling for The Alliance.
MVP in particular was the biggest loser with the Indian community massively swaying to Angkatan Penyelamat which had many Indian election candidates and field workers.
Thana could clearly see the reason why Angkatan Penyelamat’s Indian candidates were pulling the crowds at campaign gatherings.
They were obviously more educated, young and directly in touch with the grassroots both in rural and urban areas through their videos and memes in social media particularly YourgroupAp.
Thana knew MVP’s failure, in fact the folly of The Alliance on the whole, to engage creatively with the people via social media.
Their politicking methods were grossly outdated: handing out free food provisions, going door-to-door to pass campaign material and gifts including token sums of money and organising Tamil cinema based entertainment shows.
But Thana had hatched an emergency strategy to win over the Indian voters in his constituency.
Being an ardent Tamil movie fan, the first time candidate decided to adopt the surefire poll winning method he had seen in many a movie.
It was a mixture of fear mongering and heroism. It would be a sort of reality drama performed by himself and his gang members.
Deploying his gang members into two groups, one led by Thiagu, tasked to create tensions among the people even committing petty crime in his constituency.
And the other smaller group followed Thana around during his campaign rounds and were always conveniently present to ease tense situations and quell disturbances.
This strategy actually worked in this rural constituency of Timbang and soon Thana had the people celebrating him like a hero.
Attempts by Thana’s two rival candidates to use the viral video of the Sental shooting to discredit him, failed miserably as the rural folk were totally captivated with Thana’s reality drama.
Meanwhile the majority of Thana’s gang members who were merged within the MVP youth support network were kept busy following Sanggaran Velu and other party candidates in their campaign rounds all over the country.
Unlike the modus operandi of gang members following Thana’s campaign, these thugs were engaged in behind the scene work – threatening and punishing political enemies who pose a problem for the MVP candidates.
However on the third day of campaigning, a murder was reported in Thana’s constituency.
The aide of a candidate who was a direct threat to Thana, was reported missing. The day after he was found dead in a drain. His hands were tied with wire and the head bludgeoned.
Despite police reports by the candidate and victim’s family no action was taken and Thana’s campaign went on smoothly with his gang members getting bolder.
They even blocked opposing candidates from reaching out to voters in Thana’s `safe deposit’ areas, housing poor and marginalised communities of people.
Thana had one final trick to ensure his win. He had printed fake ballot papers with X marked against his party logo.
And on polling day his men hired a group of young women and elderly men to distribute them at the various polling centres in his constituency.
Polling Day came and Angkatan Penyelamat fought a bitter battle through their polling and counting agents, to keep off the dirty hands of EA officers from manipulating vote tallies at the counting centres.
The agents had been recruited over the social media by Angkatan Penyelamat chief election strategist, Rafaee Abdullah.
Rafaee a trained economist did not contest the polls this time around being disqualified after a recent conviction by The Alliance controlled courts under the Government Secrecy Act.
He was sentenced to six months jail for the offence of obtaining official documents which he had used to expose a senior Parti Ketuanan minister who embezzled government funds.
The disqualification however was a blessing in disguise allowing Rafaee to focus fully on efforts to counter the opponent’s vile tactics to win the elections especially using the EA to do their dirty work.
The success of Rafaee’s team and people’s boldness finally kicked out the corrupt leaders of Parti Ketuanan and other component parties of the ruling coalition in the polls.
Long suffering, truthful-news-deprived television viewers following the poll results on the Untuksemua national news agency channel breathed a sigh of relief finally hearing the break in The
Alliance-aligned tone of the news anchors as Angkatan Penyelamat’s win became imminent.
History is being created today in Merekasia!
It would seem the people have spoken to herald the dawn of a new Merekasia gasped out the half smiling male anchor, Hadri Salleh!
All the events and characters portrayed in this serialised novel are fictionnal and any parallel with real life persons is purely coincidental.