Tengku, I Beg to Differ

By G. Krishnan

If the aim is to rescue our institutions and to restore the public’s faith in our system, isn’t it therefore imperative that he not be hung-up with the Umno label but instead join forces with those most committed to accomplish the principles he once – some decades ago – saw Umno committed to?

I read with interest the comments of Tengku Razaliegh on why he felt compelled to decline Zaid Ibrahim’s invitation to him to join PKR. Unlike so many of the characters in Umno, I’ve always held a high regard for the integrity, intellect, and statesmanship of Tengku. No matter if I’ve differed in my perspective with his politics, I’ve always seen in him a man head and shoulders above the fray of practically all the BN politicians. Incidentally, given some of the cast of characters within BN, this may not seem like much of a compliment to the Tengku. But in all seriousness, I did say he’s ‘head and shoulders above’ the fray. That itself should be sufficient to reflect the major gulf between someone like him and the others.

I can appreciate the Tengku’s commitment to stay on in Umno, but I have to admit, as much as I respect his ideas, he’s missed the boat of this one. Tengku gives us two reasons for his decision to pass on leaving Umno. First, he writes: “I am not in Umno because I ‘harbour hope of saving Umno’ in its present incarnation. I remain because the cause for which Umno was formed, and the principles which guided its promotion, has not gone away just because we have lost our way 60 years later, and they need to be upheld.”

Indeed, I was shocked to discover that the Tengku has as much conceded that he’s under no illusion of saving Umno under its “present incarnation.” By his own admission, he’s not hopeful. But he’s committed, nonetheless, to “the cause for which Umno was formed.” The cause, for which I think he’s correct, was to build a prosperous, united Malay community while also building a similarly prosperous and united Malaysia.

But that begs the question, Tengku, then why be hung-up with Umno? If Umno as an organisation, by his own admission, has grossly deviated from this vision, and it is the principles which matter – not the organisation, then there is an equally – if not more – compelling case for why stalwarts like him should in fact affirm that what matters is not Umno the organisation which has been hijacked, but the principles of the nation. And one should be affiliating with those who remain true to those principles, instead of the organisational shell (Umno) which seems to pretend that it still today the party of Tunku Abdul Rahman or Tun Ismail.

This is why I think the Tengku is actually not consistent when he claims that the second reason for not leaving Umno is that party labels aren’t important. Instead, he asserts, the main issue is how we preserve the nation’s key institutions which have deteriorated. Well, if by his own admission Umno has been the culprit, then isn’t it all the more imperative – especially since he has acknowledged that Umno cannot be saved in its ‘present incarnation’ – that he join the forces most committed to rescuing the people’s trust in the nations institutions and principles?

Read more at: IMAGINE…