The Chinese party claims that each of the dinners held in various towns were attended by more than 10,000 people, an indication that the support of Chinese voters is returning to BN.
However, political observers see the slogan as too open to interpretation while MCA has not done enough to elaborate on it, giving Pakatan Rakyat a chance to turn it into a double-edged sword, just like Gerakan’s campaign slogan in 2008 that led to the party's total wipeout in Penang.
The ambiguous interpretation of the slogan was evident when MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek refused to state clearly, when asked by reporters on Oct 16, whether it meant that a change of government would lead to chaos.
He described it as a question that even a clairvoyant would be unable to answer.
However, Chua said the slogan was to remind the Chinese community not to take Malaysia’s racial and religious harmony for granted because the nation’s stability "is weak and vulnerable".
His statement has incited strong responses in cyberspace, with netizens parodying the slogan. The ones that have gone viral include ‘Stability Above Chaos, Vote Pakatan’ and ‘Stability Above Chaos, We Must Change’.
This is a reminder of the classic publicity battle in 2008 when DAP hijacked Penang Gerakan’s campaign slogan of ‘Keep Reinventing’ and modified it to ‘Keep Reinventing, Vote DAP’.
The parody quickly became the talk of the state and persisted throughout the campaign. Although Gerakan later attempted to retaliate by changing it into ‘Keep Reinventing, Vote DAP, DAP Disappears, Don’t Get Cheated’, it failed to stop the party from losing its 39-year-long grip on Penang.
Coincidentally, MCA seemed to adopt the same tactic in responding to the netizens’ parody. The Alor Gajah MCA division has uploaded an image on its Facebook with the slogan ‘Stability Above Chaos. Vote DAP, More Chaos’.
MCA: Slogan designed for the Chinese
MCA publicity department chief Musa Ile Chong told Malaysiakini that the Chinese slogan, read as ‘yao wen ding, bu yao luan’, was translated from the English phrase ‘Stability Above Chaos’.
The Chinese slogan literally translated goes as ‘Want stability, don’t want chaos’.
Chong explained that the slogan was aimed at both the Chinese community as well as party members.
“Externally, we are urging the people to support BN because voting for Pakatan would mean chaos. Besides establishing a theocratic state and implementing hudud, other promises by Pakatan would also affect the nation’s stability.
“Internally, we must solidify our vote bank, ensuring that party members vote for BN,” Chong (left) said.
Chong admitted that the slogan has much space for interpretation, but ithat t provided more flexibility for MCA leaders to manoeuvre, including calling on members to unite and avoid sabotaging one another during elections.
Nevertheless, he denied that that slogan was a tactic to intimidate the Chinese community.
Asked about its effectiveness, Chong said preliminary observations and feedback showed that it has achieved significant results.
“Regardless of the effect, most importantly MCA must present such a discourse to remind the Chinese community of the consequences if Pakatan comes to power. As a non-Muslim party, MCA has the responsibility to highlight it.”
On the negative feedback from the online community, Chong responded that it was just one of the many political competitions and “it is better than none”.
“No matter what slogan we introduce, they will respond... no slogan can avoid that,” he said.
MCA disconnected from the people, claims DAP
However, according to DAP publicity expert Hew Kuan Yau, the counter-slogans were not produced by his party but were the products of netizens’ creativity.
Describing MCA’s slogan as vacuous, Hew said it showed that MCA’s publicity team has run out of ideas and was clearly disconnected from the masses.
“The most important element of the publicity battle is resonance with the people’s sentiments. If the slogan was introduced after the 911 attack or the anti-Chinese riots in Indonesia in 1998, it might have been effective, but there is simply no such ambience within the people.”
More commonly known as ‘Superman’ among the Chinese voters, the popular political speaker said the MCA slogan was ephemeral and could well be replaced by another theme during the general election.
“Probably MCA will recycle the 1Malaysia card or Najib Abdul Razak’s transformation to call on the Chinese community to support the government’s transformation, then they will get some Chinese community leaders to declare their support to make it look great,” Hew speculates.
However, he does not rule out the possibility of BN screening the controversial film Tanda Putera before the general election, coupling this with the dissemination of propaganda by the mainstream media, with MCA’s slogan being part of the machinations, to put fear in the voters.
‘Slogan does not reflect reality’
Hew’s view is shared by political commentator Tang Ah Chai, who opined that the slogan does not reflect reality.
“MCA did not explain the source of the chaos, and the basis of this slogan. Nobody wants to create chaos.”
Tang (left) warned that an anachronistic slogan would be unfavourable and could backfire as it was just a repeat of the BN’s old rhetoric of development and stability.
“This slogan does not reflect reality and it is conservative and passive. It has no foresight and fails to provide voters with a better picture of the future.”
Tang, who is chief executive officer of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, considers BN’s strategy of combining the May 13 racial clash bogey with election goodies such as tarring roads and fixing streetlights as no longer effective after the 2008 general election.
“MCA used May 13 in the past, and now it is tying up stability with the Islamic state. Probably some senior voters are afraid (of an Islamic state) but it does not work any longer on the young voters,” he added.