4.1 Introduction

The struggle over power is prevalent in democratic countries. Political parties are known to exhaust all available means including linguistic tools to secure the trust of the people in order to be elected or re-elected to power. In the years leading up to the 14th general elections, Barisan Nasional (BN) suffered accusations of mismanagement over 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The struggle for this coalition to remain relevant and in power ended when it lost to Pakatan Harapan (PH) in 2018. From the very beginning, PH was facing its own challenges too. It was working very hard to maintain the trust it had initially gathered, fulfilling promises made, legitimising the decisions and moves it took. In an attempt to maintain hegemony, both coalitions needed to convince the people that they were working hard for the country and the people. One way of doing it was through the creation of vocational roles or occupational-based identities for the government. Through sets of expected or obligated actions and behaviours associated with several occupations, the two parties were not only legitimising their governance but also the actions and ideologies they were perpetuating.

Both coalitions’ leaders were portrayed as responsible and had worked hard in helping the people. Vocational roles and relational identities were laden in discourses produced by party leaders, members and government institutions. These roles and identities were indexed in discourse through the use of several linguistic features including verbs, adjectives, adverbs and metaphors. One of the prominent discourse produced by these ruling parties that garnered mass media attention was the annual presentation of the Supply Bill or better known by Malaysians as the Budget Speech.

The annual reading of the supply bill or budget speech by the Finance Minister is a much-awaited occasion by Malaysians and other stakeholders (See Rajandran, Chapter 3, Perumal, Govaichelvan, Sinayah, Ramalingam & Maruthai, Chapter 5 and Siti Aeisha & Mohd Faizal, Chapter 11). The budget speech does not only lay out how the government plans to utilise the country’s resources but also how the government is going to increase its income through taxes, levies and other forms of investments. It also highlights mega development projects that will be carried out in the coming year. The government takes this opportunity to boast of their achievements and belittle the opposition parties (Chi-Chang, 2009). Through their discourse, this is part of the ruling party’s attempts to legitimise its own governance, actions and ideologies (Simpson & Mayr, 2010).

One of the major strands within the field of institutional discourse is the creation of myth and reality through the construction of identities for itself (the dominant group) and others (the subordinated group) (Keating & Duranti, 2011; Simpson & Mayr, 2010). In doing so, the government frames itself positively by constructing and representing itself through several social roles. It also assigns the people with social and relational identities that further enhance the government’s positive representation. Although these identities and roles may be indexed in discourse through the use of various linguistic features, this chapter is particularly interested in the social vocational roles and relational identities as indexed by conceptual metaphors (Grubenmann & Meckel, 2014; Koller, 2004, 2012; Kram et al., 2012; Thomas & Beauchamp, 2011; Yesilbursa, 2012). These social vocational roles are identified in the discourse through Sacks’s (1995) membership categorisation analysis.

4.2 Metaphors, Identities, Legitimation and World Leaders

The conceptual metaphor theory forwarded by Lakoff and Johnson in 1980 provides an experientialist approach to metaphor. This cognitive-based neurologically supported theory further emphasises that human thoughts are metaphorically structured and guided. Thus, the linguistic metaphor (e.g. I don’t want to waste time) produced by a speaker/writer is a reflection of a predominant Western conceptual metaphor (TIME IS MONEY), understood through mapping the source domain (Money) to the target domain (Time) (Lakoff, 1986). This theory asserts that metaphors are strongly grounded in human experiences, cognitive schemas (Johnson, 2005), embodiments (Gibbs et al., 2004; Grady, 1999, 2005; Lakoff, 2013; Yu, 2009;) and neuron circuits (Feldman, 2006; Feldman & Narayanan, 2004; Lakoff, 2008).

Since “words are the meeting points at which regions of experience which can never combine in sensation or intuition, come together” (Richard, 1936, p. 131), language is then “merely a reflection of pure metaphorical thought, a surface realisation of a deeper conceptual level” (Tomoni, 2012, p. 202). These linguistic reflections of deeper conceptual metaphorical thought or mappings from the source domain to the target domain (Lakoff, 1986) are presented using SMALL CAPITAL LETTERS. It indicates that the particular wording does not occur in language as such, but it underlies conceptually all the surface metaphorical linguistic expressions listed underneath it (Kövecses, 2010, p. 4). Lakoff and Johnson’s (1980) Metaphor We Live By provides an extensive list of linguistic evidence of the metaphorical nature of the human conceptual system. It proves that a deeper pattern of thought can be identified through sets of linguistic metaphors (Charteris-Black, 2011; Lakoff, 1986; Lakoff & Johnson, 1980).

In political discourse, metaphors are used as tools of persuasion and manipulation (Charteris-Black, 2011). It is most important in a democratic society as followers need to be convinced that a leader and his policies can be trusted (Charteris-Black, 2011). Van Dijk (2006) explains that as a manipulation tool, metaphor is used to conceal the speaker’s intentions. Since recipients are assigned a more passive role, they often do not realise that they have been manipulated. They often accept it as they are “unable to understand the real intentions or to see the full consequence of the beliefs or actions advocated by the manipulator. This may be the case especially when the recipients lack the specific knowledge that might be used to resist manipulation” (van Dijk, 2006, p. 361 in Charteris-Black, 2011, p. 43). Benoit (2001) further added that the worldview constituted by a metaphor functions as a terministic screen which may reduce listeners’ critical thinking though not eliminating it entirely. This helps create positive impressions of the candidates, their utterances and their policies. This theory is seconded by Hank Seikopf, a political communicator who said “people do not vote based on their brain, they vote based on their guts” (as cited in Nankani, 2004, p. 1). Charteris-Black (2014, p. 200) stresses that “no matter how socially entrenched metaphors become, the argument that they have been chosen presupposes that they are purposeful.” Metaphors communicate an ideology by creating myths. This myth “engages the hearer by providing stories that express aspects of the unconscious. It provides a narrative-based representation of intangible experiences that are evocative because they are unconsciously linked to emotions such as sadness, happiness and fear” (Charteris-Black, 2011, p. 22).

As for successful use of metaphors by political leaders, in the USA, Hillary Clinton was observed using a number of metaphors including those of building and war. She did not only employ NATION IS BUILDING, but PROPERTY/ECONOMY IS BUILDING too. Whilst INTERNATIONAL CONFLICT, NATIONAL PROBLEM and HISTORY OF THE NATION (IS) WAR, SOLIDARITY IS GOOD/STRENGTH (Egana, 2016). Donald Trump on the other hand prefers to use war, sport and health metaphors in his speeches. He views both NATIONAL and INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/CONFLICTS ARE WARS, whilst PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ARE SPORTS GAME, INTERNATIONAL CONFLICTS are conceptualised as BASKETBALL GAMES. In terms of health, RICH IS perceived as STRONG, whilst POOR IS WEAK/SICK/DEAD (Egana, 2016).

In addition to the above, Xu (2010) who examined the use of metaphors by Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barrack Obama observed that these former American Presidents often utilized journey, health and war metaphors. AMERICA OR AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE TRAVELLERS, whilst SOCIAL GOALS ARE DESTINATIONS. In their journeys, DIFFICULTIES ARE BARRIERS AND BURDENS. The health of the country actually depends on economic conditions and power. Since POLITICS IS WAR, social evils are seen as the enemies and the people are the fighters and defenders (Xu, 2010).

Sebok (2017), who analysed seven of Xi Jinping’s speeches, found that the Chinese leader preferred journey, war and construction as the source domains for his metaphors. He conceptualised CHINESE HISTORY and NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (IS) JOURNEY, whilst SOCIALISM WITH CHINESE CHARACTERISTICS IS PATH. The CHINESE NATION IS TRAVELLER, whilst CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES ARE TRAVEL COMPANIONS and THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY IS GUIDE. Other prominent metaphors include NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT IS WAR, CORRUPTION IS ENEMY, YOUTHS ARE ARMY and WORKERS ARE ARMY. Since CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY IS ARCHITECT, therefore, CHINA (the country) IS BUILDING and (national) DEVELOPMENT IS CONSTRUCTION.

An analysis on four Taiwanese Democratic Progressive Party Presidents (Chiang Kai-Shek, Chiang Ching-Kuo, Lee Teng-Hui, Chen Shui-Bian) speeches reveals an extensive use of building and reconstruction metaphors. FORERUNNERS ARE BUILDERS, PAST HISTORY IS FOUNDATION, COMMUNIST IS DESTROYER and THE COMMUNIST TAKEOVER IS DESTRUCTION were amongst the prevalent metaphors used (Lu & Ahrens, 2008). On similar ground, the former Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader employed war and building metaphors. Ivo Sanader saw POLITICAL ELECTION IS BATTLE, STATES ARE WAR STRATEGIES, THE OUTCOME OF POLITICS IS THE OUTCOME OF WAR and FEAR IS INVADER OR ENEMY. He conceptualised both nation and theories as building (Lenard & Cosic, 2017).

Closer to home, Indonesian President, Joko Widodo has expressed the importance of freedom through several conceptual metaphors such as FREEDOM IS VALUABLE COMMODITY, SPIRIT OF UNITY IS LINE, POWER IS URGE, SUFFERING IS WEAKNESS and STRUGGLE IS RESURRECTION whilst addressing the audience at the Fifth Extraordinary Summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC SUMMIT) in 2016 (Supriadi, 2017). The late Lee Kwan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, preferred to talk about economic crisis in terms of unprecedented natural disasters such as typhoon and earthquake, which are not common in Singapore due to its equatorial location. As these disembodied forces are external and beyond human control, the government maintained their competent and responsible image as they cannot be held accountable and responsible for meteorological mishaps (Kelly, 2001).

In Malaysia, the fourth Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamed was well known for his medical metaphors. He observed “symptoms,”diagnosed” the problem and would recommend a “cure” (Charteris-Black, 2007). Through his speeches, it was observed that he was fond of POLITICIAN IS DOCTOR, POLITICAL PRACTICE IS MEDICAL PRACTISE (Charteris-Black, 2007), THE STATE OF ECONOMY IS STATE OF PHYSICAL/MENTAL HEALTH and BELIEVING IN IDEOLOGIES IS STATE OF MENTAL HEALTH (Imani & Habil, 2014) metaphors. The people or the “patients” rarely challenged the diagnosis and often accepted the treatment no matter how bitter or hard it was (Charteris-Black, 2007), and this includes amputation of weak or non-functional limbs such as his own members of cabinet (Charteris-Black, 2011). As he is active in politics again, medical metaphors are still prevalent in his texts. Responding to one of the Malaysian 14th pre-general election memes (Fig. 4.1), he posted “Siapa nakal sangat ni Saya doctor, bukan gangster. Nak memulih pentadbiran negara, bukan memusnah” (Literally translated as “Who is being so mischievous I am a doctor, not a gangster. (I want) to heal the country’s administration, not destroy it”) on his Facebook page on 14 January 2018.

Fig. 4.1
figure 1

Dr Mahathir’s response to a meme on 14 January 2018

Apart from medical metaphors, Mahathir Mohamed was also observed using colonial and war metaphors when discussing the 1998/99 economic crisis. Instead of military force, financial and economic weapons were used by the country’s enemies—currency traders, foreign media and credit-ratings agencies. Malaysia on the other hand was represented as a helpless victim in the economic warfare by foreign powers (Kelly, 2001).

Examining the conceptual metaphors used by the sixth Prime Minister, Najib Razak has been observed conceptualising the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) as a journey, vehicle and plant (Rajandran, 2013). The economy on the other hand was conceptualised as ECONOMY IS SPORT/GAME, and ECONOMY IS A CHEMICAL SUBSTANCE in the ETP reports (Jasman & Kasim, 2014). In other settings, at the opening speech for 17th Conference of Commonwealth Education, Najib Razak conceptualised education as EDUCATION IS MACHINE, EDUCATION IS JOURNEY; EDUCATION IS A FORCE, EDUCATION IS SPORT and EDUCATION IS PLAY (Mohamed Nil, Mohd Kasim, Yusop and Shamsudeen, 2014).

Discourse does not only talk about an identity, it constructs, negotiates, reinforces and subverts identity (Koller, 2012). As discourse allows meaning to be emitted, gathered and appropriated (Gee, 1999), it serves as a means for individuals to act and interact, position themselves and be positioned in a social space (Almeciga, 2013). Apart from the ever-changing co-formations of complex relationships between the self and the world (Almeciga, 2013), discourse also plays a significant role in forming and transforming participants’ identities. Despite the various approaches developed to identify identity in discourse, many have been criticised for not being able to deal with the subject’s unconscious mind (Benwell & Stokoe, 2006). Since identity can be carefully shaped and indexed through several linguistic features including speech style (Johnstone, 2008), the use of conceptual metaphors as an identity index allows access to the author’s unconscious mind (Grubenmann & Meckel, 2014; Koller 2004, 2012; Kram et al., 2012; Thomas & Beauchamp, 2011; Yesilbursa, 2012).

A discourse participant’s collective identities are often identified through his/her occupation and social activity (Simpson & Mayr, 2010). Occupational-based identities, most often labelled as vocational roles, refer to the expected or obligated actions, behaviour, routines performed and beliefs held by individuals which are associated to one’s jobs, vocations and occupations. They are often identified through descriptive job titles and described through the use of linguistic features such as verbs and nouns. For instance, one who plays a vocational role as a doctor may diagnose and treat diseases, whilst those playing a role as a gardener may plant and take care of trees and shrubs.

When discourse participants are categorised by what they do (occupation) or social activity, they are categorised in a discourse based on “functionalisation” (Simpson & Mayr, 2010). They are often identified in discourse through the verbs used (Simpson & Mayr, 2010) such as “treat” for “doctor” and “plant” for “gardener.” This identification is often discussed in relation to occupational identity. Occupational identity does not only represent “one’s perception of occupational interests, abilities, goals and values” (Kielhofner, 2007 in Skorikov & Vondracek, 2011, p. 694), it also represents “a complex structure of meanings in which the individual links his or her motivation and competencies with acceptable career roles” (Meijers, 1998 in Skorikov & Vondracek, 2011, p. 694). It is often identified through descriptive job titles which function as identity badges, for example technician, lawyer, nurse and engineer (Rothma et al., 2015).

However, in this chapter, the term vocational role is preferred over occupational identity; as according to Cullen (2011), vocation is “a commitment to a specialist area of work that the individual engages with in terms that almost equate with religious zeal” (p. 5). Even though it is highly associated with clergy and ministry, in its current sense, it is used in reference to any career of choice (Buijs, 2005). In contrast to occupation, those with a vocation are genuinely committed to their work and are not interested in rewards (Cullen, 2011). This is so as “the framework of a profession tends to include payment for an activity, whereas the framework of a vocation tends to ignore it” (Buijs, 2005, p. 337). As vocation is equal to one’s true calling, a vocation helps nourish someone’s work and non-work life. The satisfaction comes from one’s enjoyment in fulfilling his psychological and spiritual needs by playing a role that will benefit society at large (Buijs, 2005). These, of course, are ideal definitions of political leaders, parties and governments.

Amongst the prevalent vocational roles-related conceptual metaphors inferred from the above reviews on world leaders’ metaphors are GOVERNMENT IS FIGHTER, followed by GOVERNMENT IS DRIVER/TRAVELLER and GOVERNMENT IS DOCTOR. GOVERNMENT IS BUILDER is an equally well-used conceptual metaphor employed by political leaders around the world. Whilst a few adopt GOVERNMENT IS SPORTSMAN metaphor, GOVERNMENT IS GARDENER, RELIGIOUS LEADER and ACTOR are not favoured by many leaders. These are the vocational roles constructed by the politicians for themselves, their governments or the countries through conceptual metaphors in their speeches.

4.3 Methodology

Since this study is interested in comparing vocational roles constructed by BN and PH to legitimise their governance, actions and ideology, nine budget speeches (2010–2018) read by Najib Razak and two (2018–2019) read by Lim Guan Eng were analysed in two stages which were (i) metaphor identification and (ii) vocational roles determination.

4.3.1 Stage One: Metaphor Identification

The Malay Metaphor Identification Procedure (MMIP) was developed by the authors due to the lack of metaphor identification procedure available for the Malay language. If Pragglejaz MIP (2007) or Steen et al (2010) MIPVU were to be adopted, many challenges and issues arose such as (1) should we treat words with identical base forms such as head (noun) and head (verb) as a single lexical unit, following Pragglejaz’s proposition or as two different lexical units as suggested by MIPVU? (2) should we take historically older meaning into consideration when consulting the dictionary for basic meaning? (3) what is a lexical unit in Malay? (4) are idioms, proverbs and simile to be treated as one lexical unit? (4) which dictionary is to be consulted? (5) what decision is to be made about those linguistic items whose basic meaning and contextual meaning do not contradict locally but globally, and (6) which basic meaning is to be adopted if there is more than one available?

Responding to the issues mentioned above, the Malay Metaphor Identification Procedure was developed by adapting Pragglejaz MIP (2007), Steen et al (2010) MIPVU, Dorst et al. (2013) guidelines on preferred combination of senses to be regarded as basic sense and a few of Krenmayr’s (2008) criteria and procedures.

The Malay Metaphor Identification Procedure is as follows:

  1. 1.

    Read the entire text/discourse to establish a general understanding of the meaning.

  2. 2.

    Determine the lexical units in the text/discourse:

    1. (a)

      Inflectional and derivational words are reduced to their roots, unless they are listed as headwords in Kamus Dewan (4th edition) or Kamus Dewan Perdana.

    2. (b)

      Proper nouns, salutation + name, title + name are treated as one lexical unit.

    3. (c)

      Numbers, percentage and written numbers are treated as one lexical unit.

    4. (d)

      Phrasal verbs (e.g. simpan buang (to keep)) and routine formulas (Selamat pagi (good morning)) are treated as one lexical unit.

    5. (e)

      Multi-word expressions such as proverbs (peribahasa), idioms (simpulan bahasa) and similes (perbandingan) are treated as one lexical unit.

    6. (f)

      Reduplication and conventional compounds are treated as one lexical unit. However, novel formations of compounds, for example pasaran buruh (labour market) is treated as two separate lexical units as it is important for the readers to understand each word before it is taken as one.

    7. (g)

      Discourse markers (e.g. walau bagaimanapun (nevertheless)) are treated as separate lexical items.

      * If there is discrepancy in terms of spelling, the standard spelling as listed in the Kamus Dewan will be used.

  3. 3.
    1. (a)

      For each lexical unit in the text, establish its meaning in local and global contexts, i.e. how it applies to an entity, relation or attribute in the situation evoked by the text (contextual meaning). Take into account what comes before and after the lexical unit.

    2. (b)

      For each lexical unit, determine if it has a more basic meaning in other contexts than the one in the given context. For this purposes, basic meanings tend to be:

      Senses (additional information)

      Action needed

      Human + Concrete

      Firstly selected over other senses

      Human + Abstract

      Secondly selected over other senses

      Non-human + Concrete

      Thirdly selected over other senses

      Non-human + Abstract

      Lastly selected over other senses

      Human + Abstract versus Non-human + Concrete

      The MORE MAPPINGS a candidate can account for, the more basic it is

      Physical action versus Psychological behaviour

      Physical action is a candidate of basic meaning

      (Additional consideration)

      Concreteness precedes humanness

      1. (from Dorst et al., 2013, p. 84)

      Basic meanings are not necessarily the most frequent meanings of the lexical unit.

    3. (c)

      If the lexical unit has a more basic current/contemporary meaning in other context than the given context, decide whether the contextual meaning contrasts with the basic meaning but can be understood in comparison with it.

      (Adapted from Pragglejaz, 2007, p. 3)

      1. (i)

        If yes, mark the lexical unit as a clear metaphor-related word

      2. (ii)

        If no, mark the lexical unit as clearly not a metaphor-related word

      3. (iii)

        If in doubt, subject it to inter-rater discussion. If still in doubt, count it as a metaphor-related word (following Steen et al., 2010 and Krenmayr, 2008)

      4. (iv)

        Idiom, proverb and simile marked as a clear metaphor-related word

      5. (v)

        For linguistic item where basic meaning and contextual meaning does not contradict locally but globally in a discourse, mark it as a clear metaphor-related word

To increase the reliability of the identified linguistic metaphors in the current study, ten undergraduate students were employed as raters to complement the researcher’s judgement. Cohen’s κ 0.83 was recorded prior to the deliberation process, whilst 0.98 was recorded after the deliberation was done.

The linguistic metaphors were then grouped according to their source and target domain groups. Words that were semantically related (Skorczynska & Deignan, 2006) or commonly appear within the same source domain such as head, body, limbs, organs were grouped together under the source domain human or living organism. Concepts like finance, banking and inflation were grouped under the target domain economy. As this process did not only depend on intuition, general and specialised dictionaries offered great help (Skorczynska & Deignan, 2006). Charteris-Black (2014) cautioned that the grouping should not be too specific as it may cause some metaphors to fit in in more than one group. The grouping should also not be too general as the category can become too remote for its members to be meaningful. The conceptual metaphors are then constructed by using the formula TARGET DOMAIN (A) IS SOURCE DOMAIN (B) (Mundwiller, 2013).

4.3.2 Stage Two: Determination of Vocational Roles

The government’s vocational roles and the people’s relational identities were identified using Sacks’s membership categorisation analysis (MCA). MCA highlights how discourse participants categorise themselves and others as certain sorts of members of society in talk and text (Day, 2011; King, 2010). One’s membership in a social category or social identities are often based on one’s activities or actions (category-bound activity) and characteristics (category-bound predicates) (Day, 2011; Stokoe, 2003). For this study, the membership categorisation was done based on vocation. Target domains (objects, characteristics, attributes, actions, roles and responsibilities) which are related to a particular vocation were grouped together. For example, metaphors related to a healer, patient, disease and illness were grouped together under the vocation of doctor/healer. These metaphors were taken as indices for the vocational roles constructed by BN and PH for themselves in the budget speeches.

4.4 Findings and Discussion

Barisan Nasional constructed 39 vocational roles for itself, whilst Pakatan Harapan constructed only 16. Based on the frequency of the linguistic metaphors that represent the category-bound activities and category-bound predicates of vocations, it was discovered that both coalitions’ most preferred vocational roles were GOVERNMENT IS GENERAL/SOLDIER, and GOVERNMENT IS DOCTOR. Whilst GOVERNMENT IS SHIP CAPTAIN was a predominant metaphor during Najib Razak’s tenure as Prime Minister, this vocational role was not present in Pakatan Harapan budget speeches. GOVERNMENT IS ARCHITECT and GOVERNMENT IS GARDENER were also present in the two coalitions’ budget speeches. In this chapter, only the top three vocational roles constructed by the coalitions are discussed. Excerpts taken from Barisan Nasional Najib Razak’s budget speeches are labelled as [NR], whilst those of Pakatan Harapan Lim Guan Eng’s are labelled as [LGE]. Below are the lists of vocational roles constructed by both coalitions.

In all the budget speeches read by Najib Razak and Lim Guan Eng, the conceptual metaphor GOVERNMENT IS GENERAL/SOLDIER was predominantly present, as shown in Table 4.1. Whilst the opposition [NR01, NR02 & NR03], economic slowdown [NR04], B40 group [NR05] and bribery [NR06] were regarded as the enemies by Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Harapan only talked about economic challenges [LGE01] and trading war [LGE02]. In tackling the battle of world economic situations [NR04, LGE01 & LGE02], targeted subsidies [NR05 & LGE03] and programmes [NR10] were deployed by these coalitions to the affected groups and sectors. Apart from the above, Pakatan Harapan’s strategies to overcome the economic slowdown battle included getting a bond from the Japanese government. The bond was named after the Japanese traditional warrior, the samurai [LGE04]. As for Barisan Nasional’s strategies, they were laid out in budget speeches [NR07] and Economic Development Plans [NR08]. In combating bribery, a special key result area (KRA) was developed as part of Barisan Nasional’s strategies [NR06]. In the battle between Barisan Nasional and its opposition, verbal attacks were being compared to arrows [NR09], whilst the general election was their battlefield [NR01 & NR03] (Table 4.2).

Table 4.1 Lists of vocational roles found in the budget speeches
Table 4.2 Government is general/soldier

Both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan adopted the GOVERNMENT IS DOCTOR vocational role. As doctors, they did not only treat the country [NR12, NR13] but most importantly the economy and economic activities [NR14, NR15 & NR16]. They have also treated abandoned projects [NR22] and old buildings [LGE06]. Barisan Nasional put greater emphasis on treating new entrepreneurs as pre-term babies [NR21]. Both the country and the economy suffered from a global economic recession [NR13] with the ringgit “losing its weight”—depreciation of the ringgit [NR14] and increase in “inflationary pressure” [NR15] as symptoms. Treatments administered by the government as a doctor include fund injection [NR17], stimulation [NR16 & NR18], rehabilitation therapies [NR22 & LGE06] and incubator for new entrepreneurs [NR21]. Lack of money (poverty) has been conceptualised as the pathogen that caused the disease that needed to be eradicated [NR20]. Once recovered, economic activities became active and continued to grow [NR19], and the once abandoned, projects will receive their Certificate of Fitness (CF) [NR22] (Table 4.3).

Table 4.3 Government is doctor

Apart from the two vocational roles presented above, GOVERNMENT IS CAPTAIN can only be traced in the budget speeches delivered by Najib Razak. With the country as the ship [NR24, NR25 & NR26] sailing in the sea of world economic situation [NR27] heading towards a high-income country [NR29] and developed nation [NR24, NR26 & NR 29] as the ports/destinations, the National Blue Ocean Strategy [NR28] was drafted to help the captain navigate the ship. Several aspects of the administration and economy have been chosen as the main currents [NR29] that helped bring the ship to port faster. This voyage was led by Najib Razak as the captain with the ministers as crew [NR24 & NR25] (Table 4.4).

Table 4.4 Government is captain

GOVERNMENT IS DOCTOR is commonly used by political leaders like Mahathir Mohammed, Margaret Thatcher (Charteris-Black, 2006, 2011, 2014; Imani & Habil, 2014), Donald Trump (Egana, 2016), Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barrack Obama (Xu, 2010), and GOVERNMENT IS GENERAL/ SOLDIER is popular with Barrack Obama (Plisetskaya, 2013), Xi Jinping (Sebok, 2017), Ivo Sanader (Lenard & Cosic, 2017), Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump (Egana, 2016), Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton and George W, Bush (Soto, 2012; Xu, 2010), GOVERNMENT IS CAPTAIN is unique to Najib Razak as none of the other political leaders were reported to use it extensively. Najib Razak was very fond of sailing and boat-related metaphors. When commenting on the earlier Prime Ministers of Malaysia in 2005, he said “All the five Prime Ministers have ascended to the helm of the political apex at times when it suited their presence” (Abdul Razak, 2005, p.3). In March 2009, as the vice President of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), he delivered a speech entitled “Menakhoda Zaman” (Helming the Times) to the UMNO women and youth members. In this speech, he stressed on the weaknesses of UMNO and the challenges it faced to stay relevant and remain in power. This speech was later published with his other speeches in a collection entitled “Menakhoda Zaman” in 2011. In this book, UMNO was conceptualised as the ship (UMNO IS SHIP) with him Najib Razak, the president as the captain (PRESIDENT IS CAPTAIN).

Through the use of metaphors, the two coalitions created a positive representation of their governments, personifying them as professional, reliable and able institutions. As professionals, the governments led by the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan were portrayed as experts in what they were doing, therefore legitimising their governance, actions and ideologies. Being portrayed as army generals, doctors and captain, the governments were put in places that require not only specialised knowledge and skills but also the ability to develop clear and well supported decisions and strategies. These can be seen in the numerous policies and strategies developed by the governments in tackling problems and challenges.

Through the use of selected metaphors, these governments have successfully created negative representations of others, for example those who bribe and receive bribes were considered as enemies. Poverty, on the other hand, was considered as a pathogen that needed to be eradicated. As for the people, regardless of their citizenship status, they are portrayed as dependent, vulnerable entities, the one to be targeted, to be treated and to be ferried around (Rajandran, 2013). In these three positions, the people’s well-being and advancement were in the governments’ hands. In the budget speeches, these roles and identities were constructed, negotiated and reinforced but never subverted. These positive and negative representation of self and others legitimise and delegitimise the political actors in question (Charteris-Black, 2011).

The governments were also toying with the people’s emotions. Fear was instilled in the people. They were presented with enemies, pathogens, stormy weather and rough sea conditions, whilst social problems were cancers [NR23]. The people were presented with selfless heroes, the one under the attack of thousands of arrows [NR9] and the one who helmed the ship through a rough sea [NR30]. They were excited with hopes that they would surely win the war, feel better and reach their destination. The people were assured that these were for the common good that would make the community they were living in better.

Coherent myths were being perpetuated by both governments. It functioned as a stable foundation for political ideologies to reside in the people’s mind and later manifested as beliefs and actions. The governments often named their programmes and policies using metaphors from the same domain as the myth. The governments’ approaches to problem-solving strategies and solutions were also often motivated by these myths, for example the National Blue Ocean Strategy was adopted by the Barisan Nasional as it correlates with the myth it was perpetuating—GOVERNMENT IS CAPTAIN, the Abandoned Housing Project Rehabilitation Programme was coherent to GOVERNMENT IS DOCTOR role and the Targeted Subsidies, and Samurai Bond for GOVERNMENT IS SOLDIER.

These preferred metaphor was in line with their parties’ manifestos. For Pakatan Harapan to act as a general/soldier was part of their promise—“Pakatan Harapan is stepping forward to offer ourselves to save this country …” (Pakatan Harapan, 2018, p. 7) as they “will return the rule of law by ensuring the independence and integrity of important government agencies” (Pakatan Harapan, 2018, p. 8). As a doctor who felt “the pressures suffered by the people” the coalition vowed in taking “immediate steps to stabilise the prices of essential items and to control the factors that lead to price increases” (Pakatan Harapan, 2018, p. 18). As for the Barisan Nasional, expressions like “the path of democracy,” “towards a path of greater liberalisation,” “the journey towards total transformation,” “we are on track” in the coalition’s 13th general elections manifesto exemplified Najib Razak’s preference for journey metaphors, as Rajandran (2013) also finds.

The two coalitions legitimised their governance, actions and ideologies by representing themselves as hero-like-authoritative figures who held many different vocational roles, creating coherent myths that touches different aspects of human emotions, convincing the people that they are in the hands of experts and most importantly whatever they are doing is for the common good. These findings suggest that conceptual metaphor analysis is a useful tool to uncover identity in political discourse. If employed systematically, these metaphors do not only gain attention, facilitate understanding and frame issues, but most importantly, they “create political myths and discourses of legitimation and de-legitimation that give rise to ideologies and worldviews” (Charteris-Black, 2014, p. 174).

4.5 Conclusion

The vocational roles—GOVERNMENT IS DOCTOR and GOVERNMENT IS CAPTAIN, constructed by Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan identified through the conceptual metaphors have painted bigger pictures rather than only constructing the institutions’ social vocational identities. They serve as platforms to legitimise the coalitions’ governance, social actions and ideologies. The coalitions were portrayed as independent entities which held multiple vocational identities, whilst the people and others were positioned as dependents—dyadically in relation to the role held by the coalitions. For instance, when they were indexed with the collective vocational role of a doctor, the people and others were positioned dyadically with a relational identity as patients. It is important for the coalitions to present to the people and others that they were competent and efficacious. For that reason, they were expected to act in line with their vocational roles, i.e. the government is “expected or obligated to perform some set of actions, behaviours, routines, or functions in particular situations” (Fearon, 1999, p. 17). In this study, these actions, behaviours, routines and functions indexed through conceptual metaphors help the coalitions to obtain or maintain power, to achieve social acceptance, or even to reach popularity and fame. They provide justification for the coalitions’ decision and actions. Therefore, it can be concluded that the vocational roles constructed by the coalitions played important roles in legitimising their governance of the Malaysian economy.