Cannons to the left, cannons to the right…

By Free Malaysia Today

The tide is changing course. People want a fresh face on the political map. They want to defend democracy and not Umnocracy. They want to protect the rule of the law and not the law of the few. They want to march to Putrajaya not to seize power but to occupy the seat by legitimate means. For this purpose, they see in the strong opposition alliance their best hope for change. Umno does not see it this way and it has rightly become the enemy of the people. As enemy of the people, it has forfeited its rights to wear the crown for another term. It is not the allied forces of the opposing camp that want to storm the battlements. It is the voters, 11-million strong, who want to bring the curtain down on the tainted career of power-crazed leaders of the old order.

A politician is a person who can make waves and then make you think he’s the only one who can save the ship. – Ivern Ball

NEW Umno supremo Najib Tun Razak has marshalled his troops for a life-and-death battle to defend their fortress at all cost. They sense that power is slipping from their hands and desperate times call for desperate action. The warrior is even prepared to sacrifice his life in the fight to stay in power for years without end. The enemy must be defeated so that the bloated, creaky “53-year-old helmsman” can continue to feast on the riches of the land at the expense of the toiling masses. Najib created waves with his call to “arms” but his outburst was without rhyme or reason. In a mature democracy, a leader does not threaten the use of violence to keep his throne, but goes out to the people to make his case for continuity.

Umno has not learnt anything from the grievous drubbing it suffered in 2008. Then, it used the vocabulary of intimidation and fear to talk down the people. Then, it dragged out the big guns in the media arsenal to embellish its record while sneering at its foes. Then, it simply ignored the swell of public anger in a loathsome display of hubris. At the end of the day, the people taught Umno and its gutless partners a lesson in humility. But now enters Najib – young, enthusiastic, the stand-bearer for change. He is all gung-ho to get his own mandate, stamp his own authority and bury, once and for all, the so-called traitor who dared to cross his path. On the stage the other day, when 4,000-odd party faithful gathered for the 61st annual rite, Najib blew his horn, beat the drum and told the cheering throng that “even if our bodies are crushed and our lives lost… we must defend Putrajaya”.

But the fiery commander must pause and look behind him. Can he muster all the 3.53 million Umno members to his cause? Are they all willing to lay down their lives without a squeak? In the great battle to come, will they rally around his totem pole and not beat a hasty retreat at a crucial moment? For when Najib and his horde take to the field, the flank arrayed against him are not the minuscle opposition multi-ethnic force but the 11 million eligible voters and four million more in reserve. In a democracy, the fight is always between the people and the leaders. Why then should the people defend Putrajaya? To impale their bodies on the iron railings of Seri Perdana is not what a general election is all about.

A general election is called to choose which party is best suited to rule the country. By voting for the party, the people also pick a leader to head the government. Every five years we elect or boot out the government of the day. But our democracy has become a one-way traffic. It has mutated into Umnocracy and for the last 50 years we only saw the mottled face of Umno. We never had a chance or gave ourselves a chance to ditch the party for another. But that was simply because there was no strong credible opposition bloc on the horizon. Until 2008. A new coalition emerged that bloodied Umno’s nose and showed promises of riding to power. That scared Umno stiff and ever since, it has been acting like one possessed – soul-bent on keeping the throne. And keeping its catalogue of misdeeds under wraps.