Capturing the national narrative


THE point made by (Council of Eminent Persons chairman) Tun Daim Zainuddin that Pakatan Harapan must capture the narrative on the ground is very telling.

A full year after GE14 it would seem that the main narrative in the country is not the exclusive prerogative or privilege of the ruling government.

Pakatan seems to be sharing the platform with another party which effectively had unquestioned and supreme hegemony over the national narrative up to May 9, 2018.

This inability to capture and command the national narrative is widely perceived as a Pakatan government failure. But is it really a failing?

In my view, that there are competing narratives is a characteristic of a new and relatively freer Malaysia. There is vigorous dissent that seems to be not only tolerated but encouraged.

To its credit, Pakatan has, in spite of friendly fire from its own ranks and pot shots from its political opponents, not succumbed to the temptation to overtly or covertly direct, influence or advise the mainstream and mosquito press or media and social media portals to parrot or portray a particular narrative.

There is not a whiff of that.

These days we don’t hear from the grapevine of a particular managing editor being red-faced after getting an earful from an irate ministerial spouse or a powerful press secretary.

One must remember our news editors were hauled up and reprimanded not so long ago even for innocuous photographs their print media carried.

We are, unbelievably, no more in that La La land.

This means the Pakatan government has to work a lot harder to capture the narrative on the ground.

Their ministers especially have an extraordinarily onerous obligation to operate as a team with a single voice.

They must learn to communicate effectively with their civil servants, press and media persons as well as the public.

They must understand that although they have their own

portfolios they have a collective responsibility for all decisions, statements and policy initiatives they take.

After nearly a year in office I think that is not too much to ask of these Pakatan ministers.

M. SANTHANANABAN

Kajang, Selangor