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Monday, February 11, 2013

BN's PSYchological moves on Penang

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Even the most ardent of hip-hop/rap haters will know who PSY is. The Korean rapper became an overnight sensation worldwide with his Gangnam Style song and video, which had also spawned countless parodies the world over.

And PSY was here in Penang to perform as the headline act at Barisan Nasional's Chinese New Year open house event earlier today. On BN's invitation, sponsored by some undisclosed corporate entity, as has been reported.

It just so happens that Walski is up in Penang spending the Chinese lunar New Year with the in-laws, as he does every year.

It also just so happens that the historic Han Chiang grounds, where the BN Open House was held this morning, is not far from where his in-laws are. And so Walski thought, what the heck.

Not that he's a big fan of PSY, but as an old friend used to say, "He's International, and He's Here". That said, Walski doesn't dislike PSY either, and is quite impressed with the rapper's meteoric rise to international fame.

For BN, bringing PSY to Malaysia was to be the coup de grâce, a gift to the people of Penang, in hopes that Penang would return to their fold come GE 13. The logic, apparently, was that BN could bring the real deal, while DAP could only manage a parody - Ubah Rocket Style.

Did this strategic move work? By now, most of you reading this already know the answer. 
(the day BN Kanna PSY, and more, in the full post)

Before we delve into that, here's a quickie look at what went on at the BN Open House earlier today.

This, by the way, is the first major political party/coalition open house Walski's been to. That said, he kind of knew what to expect. Being that its Chinese New Year, the obligatory ang pow and Madarin Orange giveaway was to be expected.

Yes, BN was there in full force, and all their component parties participated in one way or another. The ang pow and orange giveaway was done by somebody from UMNO's Women's Wing, by the looks of it. For those who bothered to queue, what they got was a box of two mandarin oranges, and a red packet with RM 2 in it.

For the record, the image above is not Walski's ang pow (he didn't bother to line up for it), but of  a little girl who was kind enough to let him take a photo of the packet's contents. Most of you should know what two Mandarin Oranges look like, so Walski didn't bother snapping any photos of 'em. As for the box holding the oranges, it was a rectangular red-colored box that looked exactly like, well, a rectangular red-colored box. What else would it look like?

So anyways, there were loads of people who came to the open house. Walski estimates that the crowd, at its peak, was probably somewhere around 50,000 thereabouts. Including the police, RELA, BN volunteers, etc.

Malaysiakini in their report estimated around the same number. It is a wonder, therefore, how Gerakan Youth Leader, Tan Keng Liang, could have estimated 100k (via his tweet earlier today).

Unless the man was seeing double. The Han Chiang grounds isn't all that big, and there were many tents and other structures on the grounds. No way could it have been 100,000 people.

But never mind, based on Tan's optimistic tweet, more important is the REASON why a lot of folks came. Before we get to that, more on what happened.

PM Najib and the other VIPs arrived at the grounds at around 11am, and the "festivities" began, with the obligatory multi-cultural dances, emceed by a very over-exhuberant lady whose name escapes Walski. Kept egging the crowd, every now and again, to complete the sentence "ONE…..", and greeted with mostly silence from a crowd getting progressively impatient for the most important person for the day.

And Walski's not referring to our Dear PM Najib either.

So on the stage they were: PM Najib and Rosmah, former PM Abdullah Badawi, BN Penang Chairman Teng Chang Yeow (an extremely uninspiring person, Walski might add), other ministers, etc.

Najib's son addressed the crowd in Mandarin. You gotta give the guy points for trying. The response was lukewarm at best, however. More clues there as to WHO the crowd was really waiting for. After that Rosmah went up on stage, with a backup choir, to give the audience a couple of Chinese New Year standards. The crowd wasn't impressed.

And then came the first of two embarrassing moments for the day.

PSY SLAP IN THE FACE: Korean superstar refused to toss 'yee-sang' with Najib, BN
Korean superstar Psy handed Malaysia's ruling party a slap in the face when he declined to come onstage to toss the traditional 'yee-sang' with Prime Minister Najib Razak and other top members of his BN coalition at a gig to celebrate the Chinese New year.
(source: Malaysian Chronicle)

If Walski were tasked with writing the headline, it would have read "Najib Invites to Yee-Sang, But PSY Doesn't Give A Toss". But that's just Walski...

PSY is astute a professional artist enough to not get involved in Malaysia's political grandstanding , and therefore declined the invitation, much to the embarrassment of Team BN.

And if you think that's bad, there's this: perhaps the most telling sign that maybe, just maybe, BN will have a more arduous road ahead to win over Penangites during the next general elections.

Point to the people of Penang. And what a horrible moment that must have been for the organizers of the event, facing full on the real feelings of Penangites who attended. And they were there certainly not to see Najib, or hear Rosmah flub her lines. Or, be uninspired by Teng Chang Yeow.

No, the tens of thousands came for one reason, and one reason alone...

And as if to confirm that the crowd was only there to watch PSY perform, the majority of the sun-braving throng left immediately after the Korean rapper was done. IMMEDIATELY. Not even waiting for the VIPs to leave.

So much for the hilarious denial of Mr. Tan Keng Liang, who had this to tweet:

And so that was Walski's day at the Han Chiang grounds. An eye-opener in many ways, and a first-hand encounter with how ill-conceived BN's strategies for Penang are. Reportedly, BN spent in excess of RM 2 million for this event. Money NOT well-spent, if you ask Walski.

Seriously… if only elections, very serious affairs that affect how the next four or five years will be for a state or nation, could be as simple as bringing a world-renowned rapper to town...

As Penangites would probably say, today was really a Kanna PSY day for BN.

Walski's Linguistical Parody Footnote: Those familiar with Penang Hokkien will probably know what "Kena Sai" is. The phrase is a mixture of Malay and Hokkien, that has a connotative meaning of "Damn it". Literally, it means "getting shit on one's person". The made-up phrase Kanna PSY is a play on this popular Penang Hokkien semi-swear phrase which, in Walski's opinion, quite succinctly expresses how the day went for BN.