Lessons in Trump's Victory for the Opposition in Malaysia?

Lessons in Trump's Victory for the Opposition in Malaysia?

What you need to know

It was anger and total distrust against the establishment that got people to vote Trump as their next president. Malaysia can learn from that, writes opposition MP Charles Santiago.

The people of America have spoken. Their choice of their new president is shocking to many, but we need to respect their choice.

President-elect Donald Trump ran a campaign of fear and hate, spewing venom against people of colour, immigrants, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, Muslims and showing total disrespect to women.

But if we look closely, we would realise that beneath all those hard words was a direct message to the poor, blue collar workers who are struggling to feed their families, terrified of losing their jobs, afraid they can't provide a future for their children, or pay their medical bills.

Essentially, Trump the "outsider" successfully tapped people’s anger against Washington’s establishment politics.

There is a lesson to be learnt here, for the opposition in Malaysia as well.

Despite former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad building a force to oust Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, nothing worked.

U.S. President Barack Obama went out on a limb to campaign for Secretary Hillary Clinton and yet she was wiped out.

It was anger and total distrust against the establishment that got people to vote Trump as their next president.

Likewise, we, the opposition, need to engage with people on the ground and tailor policies that will look into their day-to-day grievances.

We need to understand their aspirations and hope and ensure our governance can make that happen.

It is important to make the masses understand the implications of pressing issues, such as 1Malaysia Development Bhd or rampant corruption or price increases, including the impending debt crisis. And there is an urgent need to make inroads into rural communities.

Just like Trump, the Umno-led BN government has always capitalised on fear politics to keep Malaysians divided.

The middle and working class Malaysians are also fed up with the ruling elite. They do not trust the government rhetoric, but are fearful that an opposition-led federal government may not work for them as a result of its constant bickering.

To break this vicious cycle, the opposition needs to show unity and that it will protect the interest of the rakyat and offer solutions to resolving problems facing the people.

This would certainly break Umno's rule, which is already shaky.

The News Lens has been authorized to repost this article. The piece was first published on Malaysiakini.

TNL Editor: Edward White