Why I disagree with ABU

Anas Zubedy

With all due respect to those who are promoting ABU (Anything But UMNO/ Asalkan Bukan UMNO) especially Haris Ibrahim, someone who I have high regard of; a genuine change agent– I do not see ABU’s approach as the right way to go. I would like to offer an alternative point of view.

Let me explain. 

When we try to use an all-or-nothing approach, we are essentially giving license to the other side to slack.

An effort like ABU takes the assumption that everyone in UMNO is bad and everyone in the opposition is good; but what if the UMNO candidate fighting for the same seat is a better candidate, who should we vote?

An all-or-nothing, blanket approval or dismissal for any party is like giving a blank cheque to the candidates and the party. I see it as an irresponsible, unthinking way to choose our MPs and ADUNS. 

While I support the ideals ABU wants to promote, it is the approach I find questionable. For the change we want we cannot be in a hurry. Some may see that we need to reduce UMNO’s influence in order to change our nation for the better, but we must be careful with our action, lest we throw the baby out with the bathwater.

This is why a more balanced approach is needed. We ask people to be thinking voters, to scrutinize individuals from all parties, and choose the best among them, not the party. If the non- UMNO candidate is better, by all means choose him or her. But if the UMNO candidate is better, he or she deserves our vote. 

We must understand that while the backing of a good structure, processes and systems (of political parties) can help an MP/ADUN perform well, an excellent candidate without a good party will still be able to serve the rakyat with heart and soul. It is like an excellent teacher in a school without amenities and support. That is why we must give foremost consideration to the individual calons, not his/her political party.

Instead of taking an all-or-nothing blanket approach, an approach that is based on reason, conscience and the Constitution is recommended. We must not allow any candidate or party a free ride. A ‘No Free Rides’ campaign is the better approach. In that way we will get only the best people as MPs and ADUNs. 

We need to change Malaysia in the right way towards the right goal. It will be slow but sure. Let’s do it one MP at a time.

Finally, the ABU campaign has a longer term danger. It promotes the kind of unthinking decision making process that is potentially destructive. This campaign may be the catalyst for more unthinking divisive positions like ABC – Asalkan Bukan Cina or Asalkan Bukan Christian, or ABK – Asalkan Bukan Kafir, etc etc. 

Is this the way we want to go?