Thu, 25 Apr 2013 02:15:00 GMT | By Emily Ding, The Malaysian Insider

GE13: Fear-mongering ads against Pakatan could backfire

Emily Ding reports for The Malaysian Insider.


KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Barisan Nasional’s (BN) advertisement campaign in newspapers is peddling racial fear against Pakatan Rakyat (PR) but could backfire in the May 5 general election, say industry insiders and opposition politicians.

A few of the print advertisements play on Chinese fears of PAS’ Islamist influence on the one hand, and Malay fears of DAP influence on the other, with the slogan: “A vote for DAP is a vote for PAS,” and vice versa.

An advertisement in the MCA-owned The Star depicts a rocket shooting into the sky only to reveal the PAS moon logo in its wake, with the message: “The power behind DAP is PAS. First their flag. Tomorrow their fundamentalist principles?”

“The ads look like they are designed to cause anxiety and fear that the Chinese would lose their culture and education if they vote for DAP,” Masjaliza Hamzah, from the Centre of Independent Journalism (CIJ), told The Malaysian Insider.

“There’s zero concept. Just accusations with no tact or respect. The ads are very patronising, an insult to the people’s intelligence,” said 32-year-old copywriter Kevin, who declined to give his last name.

“They forgot the golden rule of advertising. No advertising can save a bad product,” he added.


The advertisements appear to be riding on the DAP’s close shave when the Registrar of Societies (RoS) decided not to recognise its office-bearers, which meant that the party came close to having to contest under PAS’ moon logo instead of its own iconic rocket symbol.

However, the opposition parties said they are not worried about the BN ads having any negative influence, and told The Malaysian Insider that in fact they help prove that PR is a united coalition.

“Indeed a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS, and at the same time a vote for PAS is a vote for PKR, and a vote for PKR is a vote for DAP. We’re together in a coalition,” said Tony Pua, DAP national publicity secretary and Petaling Jaya Utara MP.

“The ads are very good… I hope BN continues to propagate the slogan. No vote for BN,” PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu also said.

Twitter user @patricklsk agreed, tweeting: “MCA actually paid for newspaper ads to help promote DAP-PAS cooperation? This is getting hilarious! #freemarketing”

This nuance is perhaps lost on most, however, and the ads have angered many.

“We were talking about it in the office today. Someone asked me if I had seen it, and I said yes, I have it. Come over, it’s in my dustbin,” said an account director, who declined to be named.

“The more ads they put up, the more angry the rakyat will be. They are digging a deeper hole for themselves,” she said.

A chief operating officer of an agency described the ads in The Star, with three to five opposition-slamming ads per newspaper, as “overkill”, which the public would tire of very soon.

“They do it all wrong. They give too much attention to the opposition instead of highlighting their own achievements,” he said.

“But they are good for a laugh, a bloody expensive laugh,” he added.

Pua said that BN had preyed on racial fears in the last four elections and that DAP would have reacted with anger and defensiveness before, but not this time.

“BN is still playing old politics. We have gone well beyond old politics,” he said.

A Facebook user, Tan Lin Li, wrote: “Let’s attack policies, not parties,” posting a photo of a DAP ad published in The Rocket and Sinar Harian featuring Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, which has also been making the rounds on social networks as a counter-example to the BN ads.

“There is nothing to be frightened about and I believe people in Malaysia are intelligent enough today to discern the lies BN tells them as opposed to the truth of the matter,” Pua said.

He added that if PR had any money it would create counter ads saying, “A vote for MCA is a vote for Perkasa.”

Masjaliza also questioned whether the BN ads adhere to the Malaysian Code of Advertising Practice.

Datuk Johnny Mun, chairman of 4As Malaysia, an association of advertising practitioners who share best industry practices, told The Malaysian Insider that the Code only applies to product advertising generally and does not govern political advertisements.

Masjaliza also said the ads compromise the integrity of a free and fair media.

“For example, spending on advertising should be limited to a certain amount. If there isn’t a limit, then it would give the advantage to the party with the biggest coffers,” she said.

It was earlier reported that BN and the Prime Minister’s Office had spent at least RM73 million last month on advertising, as the ruling coalition launches an advertising blitz to keep Putrajaya in what is set to be the most expensive general election ever.

Apr 24, 2013 9:23PM

As far as I can see, only BN seem to take a direct punch on both DAP and PAS in all sorts of media advertisement as well as SMS. They seem to use tactics of racial and religious dis-harmony if we were to favor the opposition. I am curious to find out if this type of direct attacks is legal as far as the guidelines of the EC is concern... or is EC just playing silent while all this is happening.


I am not sure if any of these advertisement/SMS had any impact on the one’s who view it, but for me it has increased my hate of BN and increase my support towards the opposition. If someone can go so low as to deliberately manipulating the facts to gain support, then we all should understand the level of the mentality behind the leadership that allows for such action.

Do we want these type of leaders to rule the Nation????

Apr 24, 2013 10:12PM

UMNO/BN is the MOST RACIST party in Malaysia.


A B U !!  UBAH !!!

Apr 24, 2013 11:25PM
All the newsprint ads goes to shows one thing only how immature the BN coalition is. This is not twenty years back where the people are not so well inform, today because of the alternative medias readily available and the public being well educated this type of ads simply do not work. Look at what is happening now, previously the young people do not bother about elections but now they are really into it as this is their future so they are coming out in droves to vote. Whoever is the BN strategist for this is really behind time racial and religious politics DO NOT WORK full stop.
Apr 25, 2013 12:54AM
Is stupid BN what the **** do with us CORRUPTION u r no1 .Pls shut up we and all of us will VOTE DAP...
Apr 25, 2013 12:54AM
the ads area clearly backfiring,if you go to facebook you can see how people are reacting to the ads.even radio station such as owned by the star areplaying ads against DAP..which in turn angered listeners and now switching back to and got to realise its not about ads but about policies and attitude that people are looking for!
Apr 25, 2013 1:14AM

Nothing new, they have been desperately doing that way before election date is even revealed.


RM73mil per month, where the money comes from? It has to come from somewhere, hope is not the taxpayers' money or the EPF (wishful thinking only).

Agree to fellow Malaysians here, the public is not stupid to believe everything printed in a single source. We have alternative source for info and party for us to vote. Not like in the old days

Apr 25, 2013 1:17AM
It looks like BN has learned little from the 2008 tsunami. They still live in their ivory towers and believe in racial hatre and racial fear campaigns to win elections. This might be effective during Dr M era, but certainly not so today. These racial fear campaigns are the biggest insult to the intelligence of today's voters. It reflects well of the mentality, strategy and quality of the BN leaders.  After 55 years of BN rules, little have been learned of socio-political changes in Malaysia at large.

By allowing this type of racial smear campaigns, it seems that EC (supposedly neutral in any democracy)  is taking side with BN. They may argue that this is not racially toned when put up by BN. If this is by PR, EC is more likely to immediately lodge police reports or taking a stern actions. By doing so, the EC is telling us they are politically partial . We dont need this bias EC at all. The entire EC leadership should be removed and replaced altogether soon after PR move to Putrajaya.

Today's voters are well informed by different media and well educated. We are no longer (dont believe in) main stream TV, radio and newspapers. We can see and judge for ourselves without being influenced by the hate politic of BN. We shall be united and give BN a real serious wake up call this time, and perhaps many future elections too.

Apr 25, 2013 1:36AM

whatever the people of malaysia, whether malay, chinese and india have decided for a UBAH for good. whatever they want to do or advertise will not affect the opposition in taking over putrajaya.




Apr 25, 2013 1:26AM
Disastrous ad with low class mentally. With such a lousy mind set and low grade thinker to allow them to run another next 5 years...hardly to imagine what will happen next beside bunch of bloody non transparent undissolve issues by these bunch of LOW CLASS/POWER GREEDY country management team. Using and spending RAKYAT money for something with ZERO value added to society, and worst more spending have been spent up unwisely and expected to be up more.....What BN you have made now make RAKYAT even loss confident on your maturity in handling country matter. Please don't be childish....face the facts your actual works and quality...RAKYAT are watching you now...Malay is looking at YOU,....Chinese is looking at YOU....Indian is looking at YOU...come mature please!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do use partial racist sentiment to play the game, as TELL YOU BN...the game plan is under RAKYAR POWER......You are chosen by RAKYAT....not the RAKYAT be fooled by your act...Let's go for more sensible GE..Good luck!
Apr 25, 2013 2:36AM
Apr 25, 2013 1:02AM
I called the Star and gave them the insight on the advert that they put up hoping to diminish the support by planting Fear and Enmity. Not realising that it is infact a revelation of BN tactic and low class fear driving message. They are bankrupt of positive virtous values and never have any. Their quilt of corruptiuon has given them sleepless night of being thrown into Sungai Buloh prison if charged and found quilty. The Rakyat has somewhat decided to vote in a New Clean Government from the mass gathering on all Ceramah with their response of Yes and applause of approval.Ubar is definitely on the cards to be dealt with.
Apr 25, 2013 12:55AM
Well, at least it good business for the printed media.  I wonder if the adds are cash term. Cause after 05/05/13,  they may not have the funds to pay for the adds.
Apr 25, 2013 1:50AM
Stupid MCA giving BN a huge headache. MCA so really stupid.
Apr 25, 2013 1:43AM
Do not worry about the ads of what they imply, worry if the majority of us are fooled by them...
Apr 25, 2013 3:15AM

a vote for BN is a vote of approval for corruption/abuse of power/scandals/rape of malaysia!

compared to this is is ok if a vote for PAS is a vote for DAP and vice versa!

Apr 25, 2013 2:01AM
Why spend unneccessary money advertising, concerts & belanja makan when you are goo****vernance ? Now, the present generation get detailed info from net so eye washing will not work.
Apr 29, 2013 7:35PM
For most of us, who have the ability to look for secondary/alternative media, this kind of ad will not work. but think of many more people, especially in rural area, where they have little or non internet coverage. so they are pretty much stuck with radio, mainstream tv channel and mainstream newspaper. and now, all of this mainstream media are controlled by BN.

lets hope many more people reaching out to people in the rural area. spread the news, make them realize BN need to be toppled

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