Written by Moaz Nair, Malaysia Chronicle
A leopard will not change its spots. Same goes for UMNO. In this case, UMNO leaders at its AGM will not cleanse all their past ‘sins’ to make it a party of choice for the Malays and other races in the coming general election. They use the AGM not to be meditative or introspective of their weaknesses as a political party, but choose to turn it into a political forum to childishly put down the Opposition.
This is a big letdown on their part. They are obviously on a defensive mode –- shielding the many issues affecting their leaders – personal, corruption and incompetency –- thinking that the delegates are ‘village fools’ who have come to listen to their side of the stories. They have under-rated the intelligence of the delegates and the people at large.
One delegate from Johore snapped: “We are talking the same old stories. We want to be defensive on everything even though we have done many wrongs. We are not admitting all our wrongdoings. We just don’t want to admit our mistakes. This is not the way for UMNO to win the Malay hearts. The people are not happy with many things going on in the country.”
The unpopular Youth leader
To most of the delegates, the present UMNO AGM is more of the usual rhetoric – race, religion and the perceived or tenuous ‘threats’ of other races to the Malays and their rights and privileges. They forget that like the Malays, the non-Malays too have their rights and privileges in this country.
The AGM seems to imprudently use the race platform to sock the Opposition on personal issues that their own leaders are worse at. They choose to deny interpolating on their leaders’ wrongdoings but act like spotless saints preaching on the stage to ‘mesmerize’ the delegates into thinking that UMNO is ‘God’ and others are devils. Many in the audience though are not convinced with their daft rhetoric.
The unpopular Youth leader and his team, as customary, had all the uncouth words for the Opposition and the marginalized ‘social groups’ in society. The people just could not understand why they should despise others using lexis like ‘pondan’, ‘anak haram’ and ‘bapok’. What have these ‘socially ostracised’ people done to harm UMNO Youth? Could this be the product of ill breeding on UMNO Youth’s part?
The dim-witted Chief himself is trying hard to impress the top leadership but, unfortunately, in a very rough and ready manner. Little does he realise that his future and his chance of climbing up the political ladder in UMNO is already bleak. A delegate from Kedah had this to say of him: “If he were to contest for the same post again, he would lose.”
They yap on Malay survival thinking that only UMNO could represent the Malays. They fail to realise that PAS has become a more popular party among the young and educated Malays. They woof at the Chinese considering them as a big threat to the Malays when they themselves are working with MCA and Gerakan Chinese parties.
Just because a Chinese from DAP is helming a thriving Penang they try to bilk the delegates into thinking that soon a Chinese will eye for the prime minister’s post. UMNO will never underscore the fact that Penang never had a chief minister other than a Chinese since Merdeka. Thus, all the hue and cry at the AGM is just a hypocrisy.
Helps make the Opposition stronger
The delegates at the AGM will prefer not to touch on money politics, corruption, financial leakages at all levels of governance and management, the poor state of the country’s economy, the feudal mindset of the Malays and the many social problems faced by the Malay race. These, startlingly, are not central to party leaders and delegates. They prefer to adopt to worthless rhetoric tinged with emotions and hatred for others. By bashing the Opposition is not going to drag UMNO out from quicksand. It only helps make the Opposition stronger.
The rhetoric on Chinese threats on Malay power is not going to sell either. Malaysians in general realise that no Chinese or Indian is interested in becoming the prime minister of the country. It is not the solemn ambition of any non-Malay in this country to become the prime Minister. Their heartfelt aspiration is to see a serene Malaysia for all the people to cherish. Let an accomplished and righteous Malay lead them.
A delegate from Melaka had this to say: “ We should have spent more time debating on how to resolve the many social problems facing the Malays rather than condemning the Opposition or the Chinese. By attacking the Opposition we are actually giving credits and more sympathy for them using our platform.”
Only one state headed by Chinese
UMNO AGM is again used to offend the non-Malays. An Indian Muslim Youth leader of UMNO from Penang bleated with hot air, despising the Chief Minister (CM) of Penang with all the disparaging words he has picked up from his parents. He must have forgotten that Penang was also under a Chinese CM since Merdeka and there has not been a slightest whinge on this issue before this. Why the yelping and bellowing now when the majority Muslims in Penang are comfortable with the present State Government?
UMNO is indeed giving the wrong impression to the people that the Chinese will take over the country if UMNO is weak This is a weird and unfounded theory by UMNO rumour mongers and it has offended the Chinese who MCA and Gerakan are trying hard to woo for UMNO.
UMNO is bound to lose more votes in the coming general election for this irrational statement by its nutty leaders. UMNO is ignoring the fact that Malaysia is what it is now in terms of economic development hugely due to the diligent Chinese. The illustrious city landscapes in the country are Chinese contributions to the nation. The economy of the country is flourishing immeasurably due to the assiduous Chinese.
The Chinese do not disguise themselves to become ‘Malays’ or UMNO members to achieve economic progress. This is unlike what the people on the ground observe is happening within UMNO. UMNO is now taken over by pseudo-Malays disguising themselves as the ‘Indigenous’ people. This, supposedly, is more of a threat to the real Malays and the Indigenous than the unpretentious Chinese or Indians.
The next general election will most probably see the Opposition taking over the government with a simple majority. UMNO or the Malays have nothing to fret about. The country will still see only one state headed by a Chinese CM and that is in Penang. Penang has been traditionally headed by a Chinese and the progress of the state goes well without saying. All other Malaysian states – in all probability - will be headed by Malay CMs or Menteri Besar.
So in this circumstances, will there be any difference between Barisan and the Opposition political status quo in the country? The only difference will be that the Opposition would, by all accounts, be more competent, responsible and transparent in governance of the country, as already seen in the present four states controlled by them.
The modern Malays are aware of this. Thus UMNO’s inane rhetoric on the Chinese or DAP threat does not carry weight at all. This publicity stunt by UMNO will make them lose more votes to the Opposition in the next general election. They have failed to grasp the fact that DAP to PAS and PKR is more or less analogous to what MCA and Gerakan are to UMNO; PAS and PKR will be akin to UMNO –- representing the majority Malays. A delegate from Sabah rightly said: “When we are politically wrong we need to have it corrected and diligently find solutions to ensure that the other races are not offended. A two-party system augurs well for the country. This is a wake-up call for all parties. The best party will be the people’s choice.”
No threat to the Malays
What is the difference between UMNO and the Opposition then? The Opposition has to go all out to prove that they can manage the country better than UMNO –- with fairness, competence, transparency and accountability. They have thus far proved this in the four states controlled by them – Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan. They will then make sure that their report books are ad infinitum endorsed as ‘good’ in the annual Auditor’s General’s Reports. What apprehends UMNO presently is that it will soon lose its monopoly on power and thus the gravy train. UMNO is up to monopolistic politics when the present generation of Malaysians feel that it is not right. The people now earnestly wish for a two-party system for the country. The emergence of the Opposition is thus a blessing for the country, as today the people have an option. They will decide which party should lead them best.
UMNO’s rhetoric at the AGM on Chinese threats to the Malays is downright racism. It only depicts how desperate UMNO can be. They have become fidgety seeing the success of Penang under its new stewardship where even the Malays there are in favour of the humble yet effective management shown by the headship. UMNO for that matter is not the only party that represents the Malays. PAS and PKR have a big share of Malay supporters too. Even DAP has today garnered significant Malay votes for its mature politics.
If the Chinese or Indians do not vote for UMNO they could still vote for PAS or PKR. It makes no difference, as all these parties also numerically represent the Malays. What they wish are capable and virtuous Malays to lead the country, not opportunists who get into politics to bamboozle the people and enrich themselves. The Chinese and Indians, as such, are no threat to the Malays as they have lived in this country for many years understanding the sensitivity and social set up of the nation. No Chinese or Indian in this country is keen or ambitious to become the prime minister – they are not interested. They know that the existing social milieu does not favour this in a Malay majority Malaysia and they do not mind it at all. In this context, they are much wiser than UMNO to understand the circumstances.
Game of racial incitement
UMNO leaders have failed to see how leaders are chosen from minority ethnic groups in some countries. Malaysia has yet to mature or evolve into a democracy as found in the US or India. President Barrack Obama of the US and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India represent the minorities by race in their respective countries and yet they are leaders to people of other majority ethnic groups.
The people are willing to accept a leader from even minority groups, as politics is in the main not based on race or religion in these countries. Political parties that bank on religion or race supremacy seldom win elections. They just cannot sell if race or religion is used to confidence trick the people. The people are more mature in this sense.
The Chinese and Indians in Malaysia are not the least worried if the prime minister does not come from their ethnic group. Neither do they have any ambition to create a prime minister from their ethnic group. Being the minority, they only want to see a fair government and they do not mind working under capable and upright Malay leaders.
The Malays today in general do understand this political equation. Let UMNO alone play with this game of racial incitement that the Chinese are ambitious to have a prime minster from their ethic group and that the Constitution has to be amended to prevent this from becoming a reality. UMNO know that they are already in quicksand, so they are trying hard to get hold of any straw they could to save them from becoming a flightless dodo bird.
Alas, in Malaysia it’s always the scare tactic UMNO is using to distance the Malays from other races. UMNO is still focussing on this antiquated brand of politics to survive –- failing to comprehend that this modus operandi is becoming less effectual these days. UMNO leaders may have grown to savour this brand of politics all these days. But the young Malays out there are not keen to adopt this kind of approach to politics and thus they turn to PAS, PKR or DAP for an entirely new political paradigm. As such, today UMNO is loosing support from the young Malays.
We are still divided
UMNO has forgotten the country’s history for their own expediency or perhaps they have a selective memory of history. Most Chinese and Indians of today –- including those people who came from close neighbouring countries before and after Merdeka –- are the second or third generation people of Malaysia. They have naturally evolved into inheriting a Malaysian identity. Born and bred here, they do not show loyalty to the countries their great-grand parents came from. UMNO politicians would prefer to deny this historical fact to gratify their disciples and for their political mileage.
It was in 1957 that we achieved independence. The British agreed to give independence to Malaya with the proviso that the three major races could work out a cordial solution to uphold unity and harmony in the country. The Chinese and the Indians were given the rights to citizenship and the Malays were endowed with their special rights as stipulated in the Constitution. Most of those migrants from China, India, Indonesia and many other regions have sired children in this country and they have all been destined to stay here.
The country has multi-racially evolved since. Politically, UMNO being the spine of Barisan Nasional (BN) has failed to achieve what is ideal for a progressive country after 54 years of independence. We are still divided by the types of school our children attend to, the types of schools meant for people of different ethnic groups and the opportunities given to certain ethnic groups in the country. Many have also abused or misused these privileges. More could be done to the country if the national education policy is genuinely carved to cater for all Malaysians to be racially united. UMNO has failed to address this issue at the AGM.
Political and economic woes
UMNO AGM is again cagey when it comes to addressing the political and economic woes facing the country due to the lack of confident, competent and knowledgeable leaders among them. They vehemently deny that UMNO’s political fallacy has made many Malaysians still economically divisive by race and religion. They should admit that UMNO politicians have failed the country in many ways – social and economic –- with their own para-holistic ways of dealing with many national issues because of their unrelenting race agenda. This fallacy has to be corrected but leaders and delegates at the UMNO AGM were too inhibited to debate on this.
They have failed to note that the electorate today have deemed race-centric political parties as no more the right prescription for resolving the political and economic woes facing the country. The people would want to see a generation that will invariably call themselves as Malaysians – Bangsa Malaysia as defined by Mahathir –- and not Malay, Chinese, Indian or Others. Perhaps, UMNO does not prefer this altruistic notion due to its hidebound approach to racial politics.
Alas, there are still some unfashionable politicians in UMNO who still fish on narrow racial and religious issues to stay in power. This, they can sell no more, as the general perception of Malaysians has changed. The present generation Malaysians abhor racial or religious tones to politics, as they would prefer a new neutral podium to express their grievances and political views.
People of one nation
UMNO AGM has year in, year out spelt that the ‘Malay’ race as the definitive race of this country – despite the fuzziness of this term to anthropologists. This is when the lexis ‘Malay’ is so arbitrarily defined that people are confused who the right ‘Malays’ are and who are making use of the ‘Malay’ status for economic and political benefits.
It is even devious to say that the present generation of ‘non-Malays’ – born and bred in this country –- should be treated as second-class to any other race in the country when they have irrefutably shown their loyalty to this country. These people have learnt the definitive language of the country; they are also relatively immersed culturally and their loyalty to the King and country is unquestionable. Only their religion may differ in most cases. Should religion then be a stumbling block for national integration?
Indeed, Malaysians of all races today have involved into a nation of people who share the same values –- contributing to the social and economic wellbeing of the country. They have shielded the country against undesirable elements and fortified the country from dissident groups to bring peace for all and sundry. Many have even sacrificed their lives for the country. The Malays should be grateful to these people, and vice versa.
All Malaysians born in this country hence should be regarded as people of one nation. This, perhaps, is the Opposition’s stand as opposed to UMNO’s stemmed brand of politics. The Opposition ostensibly sees that the people of this country could politically and economically work together to see that there is no more political beliefs that prop up race and religious extremism. Political chauvinism as promoted by UMNO is actually perceived by the people at large as to benefit a few power hungry politicians. This cannot be tolerated by the present generation Malaysians.
As opposed to UMNO’s brand of politics, Malaysians would want to see all be treated the same irrespective of their race, creed, religion or political affiliation for the country to progress. UMNO AGM, regrettably, is too deep in emotive rhetoric that they have become sightless to reality. They could not see the benefits of having all races living and working together in a nation of people faithful to the country.
UMNO AGM has again failed the people’s expectation
When the people are ready for a two-party system the UMNO AGM is still narrowing its perspective on political monopolism. They have not got off the worn out racial tracks and keeps on referring to people of other races as not the ‘chosen people’. UMNO has failed to recognize that divide and rule –- the colonial way of race containment –- will not work anymore in this country as people have become much wiser now and know better their basic rights as human beings – thanks to the unyielding pressure from human rights groups and also the role of Internet that has made the world we live in ‘free’ and borderless.
Instead of endlessly toying on race and parochialism, and solely defending the Malay rights UMNO AGM should have focussed on how the poor – irrespective of race or religion –- in the country could be given special help in order to uplift their economic well-being. The economic policy today has to be based on needs. The rich among all races do not need the ‘crutch’ but the poor of all races still need it.
UMNO’s temperament is that it does not fancy other races to question the rights of the Indigenous people as stipulated in the Constitution but this should not be taken as a passport by UMNO to deny the other races of their rights and privileges as Malaysians.
A civilised society will not condone the fact that there are a ‘chosen few’ to be crowned as a superior people.
Islam does not condone this doctrine either, as it is against the fundamental rights of the human race.
The UMNO AGM has again failed the people’s expectation of the party to lead a multi-racial Malaysia into the future. It’s a blessing that we now have a two-party system.
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