Its UMNO, not PKR or PAS

Sakmongkol AK47

The former UMNO president said the party struggle now was only about contracts, APs and licenses. He stressed that the party must return to its roots and help unite a divided Malay community.

“We can unite the Malays if we are willing to work hard and explain that UMNO’s struggle is for religion, race and country,” he told the audience during a talk on “Malay race and the future” at the Tun Hussein Onn Memorial here.

Finally it has to come out. Dr Mahathir is saying something that I have also been writing about. His voice is of course louder and more impactful. Mine is the voice of an interested observer and also a stakeholder in UMNO’s future.

The problem is with UMNO. It’s a party for contracts and APs. In other words, self-interests override everything else. It’s a party that has lost its bearings. It has dislodged itself from the founding principles- to struggle and push the agenda for race, country and religion. Two, not only it has lost bearings on these founding principles, UMNO hasn’t been successful in re casting the principles with the new realities. UMNO has to contend with other stakeholders in this country. These stakeholders have become emboldened partly because they dominate the economy (the Chinese) and because of a more assertive leadership as in the case of the Malaysian Indians. UMNO degenerates because it can’t offer competent leadership to contend with these groups. Three, UMNO has retreated from its role as the principled and steadfast spokesman for Malay interests.

In a nutshell, the present UMNO has failed to distinguish itself in a positive way from the rest of the pack. Hence for example, a small but vociferous pressure group such as Perkasa can rattle UMNO. Other NGOs have proven to be persuasive enough to steal the thunder from UMNO in a number of issues such as fighting corruption, abuse of power, decadence of its leaders. UMNO hasn’t been nimble enough to seize the initiative in dominating the alternative media. The media companies that it owns have lost credibility not because they churned out untruths, but because they have not been able to win people over to their causes.

Devoid of an appreciation and understanding of its principles, it has spawned a different breed of leadership. On the whole, the leadership is one that’s more interested in harnessing the trappings pf power instead of applying that power for the greater good. Hence there is a continuous mad scramble for positions in UMNO.

But UMNO can’t attribute its shortcomings to others. UMNO’s problems must be sorted out by UMNO people.

Dr Mahathir’s recent statements must also be viewed as open criticisms on the leadership of DS Najib. Lee Kuan Yew’s characterization of Najib as a rational leader and the attributes that qualify Najib as a rational leader is not exactly placing Najib in a strong position to galvanize the Malay ground. Indeed it can serve to alienate Najib further as he will be seen, as part of the make-up of the rational leader, to compromise many things of interest to the Malays.