Listen to the people, former Japanese minister tells Barisan

By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno and Barisan Nasional will collapse if they put party interest before that of the people, said Yale University senior fellow Kotaro Tamura.

Tamura said Umno should take heed of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan’s fall from grace last year, after being in power for half a century.

Like Umno, LDP enjoyed a landslide victory several years ago.

But, it suffered massive defeat in last year’s election,” he said at the international forum on “The Creation of Global Citizen: Media Liberali­sation And The New Political Realities” yesterday in conjunction with the Umno General Assembly.

Tamura, a former LDP minister, said the party became too arrogant after the landslide victory in 2004.

There were a lot of signals from the ground reflecting public unhappiness over certain policies.

“People were anxious because the economy remained stagnant for two decades. But the party did not address the concerns,” he said.

The regime change last year posed a painful lesson for LDP, said Tamura who later joined the Democratic Party of Japan. Similarly, people in Malaysia had expressed their dissatisfaction in the 2008 general election. The future of Umno is at stake if it did not address the root causes of the people’s frustration, he said.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported about calls by Umno Overseas Club urging party leaders to make greater efforts to explain to students and Malaysians overseas the actual meaning of 1Malaysia.

California Umno Club chairman Muhammad Danial Zuraidi said although there were briefings on the concept given to club leaders, none was organised for other Malaysians abroad.

Moscow Umno Club chairman Muhammad Akmal Salleh said such explanations would ensure that the concept would not be misinterpreted.

He said Malaysians residing overseas obtained most of the information on government policies, including the 1Malaysia concept, through the Internet, where their validity could be disputed.

“Actually, many of our own members and Malaysian nationals living abroad still do not understand the 1Malaysia concept, so I hope the Government or Umno can explain what is actually happening in Malaysia,” he said.