Adjusting to after-UMNO Malaysian politics

Sakmongkol AK47

The last article I wrote attracted a wide array of opinions. To me, the diverse opinions show, UMNO matters- whether it’s regarded as loathsome or boon.

But to me, it’s more important to make UMNO people see things in perspective. The future of Malaysian politics to my mind can be described as a post UMNO politics. UMNO will still matter but it has to come to terms to the reality that it is no longer the unrivalled and absolute voice of Malays in particular and Malaysians in general. It’s a political theater where there are several contending parties vying for allegiance of the people to their causes.

The more than 3 million Malay voters who did not vote UMNO in 2008 cannot be all wrong. They didn’t come to the position of not wanting UMNO because the opposition made them more aware and conscious. More likely they came to that position as a result of instantaneous voluntary and independent awareness. The opposition better not pat themselves on the back and indulge in an orgy of self-flattery.

So, it will be stupid if the opposition ignores to harness this general disenchantment by offering just some flippant commentaries on current politics. People will look at leadership, policies, intellectual honesty and articulation of your policies. That way I think, the disenchantment will likely remain and can translate into still, a rejection of UMNO.

For UMNO it will be a bigger challenge. It’s like the multi-polar world of geo politics. USA is no longer the sole and unrivalled source of but one of several. India and China have become centers of attraction. Even that little dot down south has become a centre of attraction of global convergence.

So, when Dr Mahathir called for a return to UMNO’s fundamentals, I am not sure, we can do so in its pure and unadulterated form. Or in the form, I understood to be what he meant. Because in the meantime, since 2008 at least, the external environment has changed.

UMNO must come to terms with the new realities. The new realities mean, UMNO can relive history as therapy.

Failure to adjust will lead to depression. In 1901, Thomas Mann write a novel called Buddenbrooks about a wealthy family that saw its fortunes reduced over 4 generations. But family members lived in a make believe world that their family is still the focus of things. Yet the word around them has changed but the Buddenbrooks insist they are still the middle kingdom. They don’t acknowledge that the prestige and power of the family has declined.

In a similar manner, we can describe the current UMNO in that way. They don’t acknowledge that the prestige and power of UMNO has declined. This is the biggest mental block UMNO people are saddled with. Yet, I have to state things as they are.

I don’t think, to describe my stand as UMNO my party right or wrong is correct. My interest is to see the RIGHT UMNO emerge. By right I mean UMNO that reaches out as a rational organization and a political party of reason. One that attracts people to its cause. And I think UMNO can reconstruct its commitment to Malay interests without hurting the interest of all Malaysians.

Let’s tackle the first of UMNO’s hotspots. The severest attack against UMNO has been its advocacy of preferential treatment of Malays. I have stated this on many occasions. We get incensed over the ownership of 30% of the country’s wealth yet, we are accommodative about who owns the 70% of the wealth. I am not saying the Malaysian Chinese own the 70%- whoever owns the 70% should be as hot an issue as the Malay attempt to own 30%. It makes practical sense; to alleviate the anguish of over 65% of the population who cannot share the wealth of this country is a just manner.