Ageing Umno compromised its beliefs

Looking beyond Tenang, former Pulau Manis assemblyman and Umno member, Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz, mulls over greying Umno, its relevance as a lead party and the ‘bigger picture.’

Mohd Ariff Sabriz Aziz, Free Malaysia Today

Umno won or rather retained its seat in the Tenang by-election. Congratulations to Umno.

I have written of its victory there and I have also followed up with some notes of discomfort at what’s happening on the ground (in the Labis division and in Johor Umno) .

First, I think my observation about Umno infighting in Tenang and Johor remains valid.

My friends, who came from as far as Kelantan to campaign in the by-election, had to actually play hosts at the polls.  Local Umno members seemed to want to stand down.

Second, MCA has proven itself to be largely irrelevant.

PAS’ Normala Sudirman may refuse to shake hands on certain principles which she holds as unshakeable – but people refused to shake hands with MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek for other reasons.

When people lose hope in you, you are gone.

While MCA may think itself as stable under Chua, the people of Tenang are sending a different message. What saved MCA from total humiliation yesterday were the floods in Labis.

Bigger picture

I hope Umno will not miss the bigger picture, which is to continue reforming itself. Therefore I don’t intend to stay “stationary” by analysing the Tenang by-election.

Instead, I want to move forward to analyse the bigger picture, which is Umno itself.

Umno is 64 years old. It has passed the age which the Muslims here in Malaysia consider the average life span of a Muslim.

Umno is now into its “walking dead” stage. Yet Umno leadership sashays around as though there are no worries about the world they live in.

If I were to identify one central cause for the emasculation of Umno, I would have to say: it is caused by the absence of a system that hinders the emergence of a confident leadership team.

We have a leadership that bends over to stay loyal to a leadership philosophy that can best be described as feudalistic.

You get onto the pecking “order” by accident of birth. You also get onto that “order” by virtue of  the leaders’ instinctive feel that you can be trusted to be compliant and sometimes complicit.

You (Umno members) are just digits in a personal agenda. But this isn’t the Umno that some of us members want.

We think we have the right to be heard because the Umno president pays RM1 for membership fees. We too pay the same.

He (the president) doesn’t own Umno nor does anyone else.

We haven’t foisted a system on Umno that allows Umno to operate as a mean machine, even if and when a particular leader is no longer on the scene.

What is happening now is, if that leader is absent, Umno goes haywire.

Leader with no conviction

Why does Umno go haywire? Because you (leadership) are conviction-less and you measure what you do politically by whether the apologies conform to the approval and wishes of somebody else.

It shows that the leadership has no basic beliefs and no confidence in itself.

When you abuse the underlying principles and beliefs, you come out with a leadership that is conviction-less.

I think we have a leadership that has lost its bearings.

Umno should have become a solid party – very competent, highly organised, having complete confidence in its leadership and ability to engage and deal with the others in Malaysia and

Instead we have an Umno and a leadership that overwork to show itself as a very Malaysian Malaysia Umno.

Umno, for instance, capitulated over the issue of the novel Interlok which has been in existence for 40 years and its author selected as a national laureate.

We quarrel over a trivial term used in the novel. People reading the novel can hardly be said to change their views on Malaysian Indians or see them as anything inferior.

I think the main issue here is MIC.

MIC knows it is alarmingly irrelevant to the general progress of Malaysian Indians and to save itself from insignificance, it must do something heroic.

MIC is not the Tamil movie hero.