No more ‘grand old’ Umno to fall back on: Najib has to make it on his own

UMNO was never strong because it is a race-based party that basically only wanted to cater for the Malays at a time when the Malays were already divided. Till today, the Malay community remains divided although UMNO has prospered, sky-rocketing in fact until 2008. 

Nawawi Mohamad, Hornbill Unleashed

There are various definitions of political power but these are not limited to heads of states, political parties or organizations, it is the extent to which a person or group can influence society whether formally or informally.

UMNO used to be able to wield its power freely and was able to re-engineer society – for better or for worse depending on whether you were Malay or non-Malay. But it also plundered the wealth of the country, imposed all sorts of regulations, restrictions, changed the laws, amended the constitution, and indulged in scandals galore.

But now, it is as if a veil has been lifted from the people’s eyes. They are calling UMNO’s bluff. Let’s call a spade a spade. These days, UMNO-BN is seen as little better than a band of ruthless thieves, stealing whatever they want with the right hand and giving back a trickle with the left,  complete with charades and expensive shenanigans.

Today, the Malays are even more divided than before

UMNO was never strong because it is a race-based party that basically only wanted to cater for the Malays at a time when the Malays were already divided. Till today, the Malay community remains divided although UMNO has prospered, sky-rocketing in fact until 2008. What brought about the political tsunami that saw Umno lose its two-thirds dominance of parliamentary seats for the first ever? Was it the non-Malays who finally rejected the BN? Yes, to a huge extent. But to an even greater degree, the 2008 electoral upset was due to the Malays who have been disagreeing with Umno finally doing something about their long-held disapproval for the party’s wayward behavior.

Sad to say, UMNO leaders still believe in their own propaganda and think they are invincible and have the right to force a political monopoly on the country! What they should be doing, they are not. For example, nobody in UMNO is trying to revamp and strengthen the party at all, although everyone knows Umno needs reforms the most. Why is this so? Firstly, all of them are busy fighting each other for position and money. They have forgotten that it was UMNO that gave them their positions and protected them from their own faults, shortcomings and wrongdoings. This goes to show that members’ love for UMNO is not real. The party is merely a means to an end. And now that this end is no longer so easily achievable, one can be sure that many in UMNO will turn traitor and jump ship to the opposition. Those with a good record will be accepted, those without will be left behind.

Because it opted to focus only on the Malays, UMNO could not become strong. It is now so weak it cannot produce much fire-power anymore. In fact, it is just like a damaged nuclear reactor that can no longer produce enough power, only enough to vent off steam and hot air. This hot air has been reflected in the actions of various UMNO leaders, supporters, ex-ministers and ex-prime ministers. All of them not only have lost the plot but have no idea on how to make UMNO strong again, capable of leading the country forward. And Najib, like all other UMNO members, cannot fall back on UMNO to save himself.

Dismal results from Najib

Despite embarking on his much hyped “transformation programs”, the results are dismal and Najib himself disappointed. He has no more tricks in the bag and no more clever ideas on what to do with the economy. Why try anyway, when he is bound to be rejected by his rivals such ex-president Mahathir Mohamad, who will surely use any sign of liberalism to gather support from the right-wing conservatives in UMNO?

A sign of how bankrupt of ideas Najib has become is in the way he gave the RM100 to each school student, RM200 vouchers to college students and RM500 for households earning less than RM3,000 per month. No long-term planning or mechanism. Just cash – direct incentives! When all this cash is used up, what happens then? What safety net or next-generation revenue-generator can young Malaysians look forward to?

Indeed, UMNO is now at its weakest – wrecked by poor leadership and intense infighting. An example is how hard it has to struggle to get rid of its Wanita chief Shahrizat Jalil, even though she has nowhere the amount of influence her predecessor Rafida Aziz had.

The manner in which Najib keeps procrastinating on when to hold the 13th general election is another obvious sign. With about a year to go before the BN’s full 5-year term expires, Najib remains the only PM in Malaysia’s history not to have won a mandate of his own.

The economic debate that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has challenged Najib to engage in is surely another sign of weakness. Najib’s persistent refusal only means that he is not prepared and has no answers to the barrage of questions that Anwar would surely attack him with.

More missteps

After 54 years of plundering and mismanagement by UMNO-BN, Najib is right to constantly complain about the lack of available resources to push through his programs. But why look at reducing government subsidies when he can firstly go after the overly fat and re-negotiable toll concession and IPP deals? Why sacrifice the ordinary folk first and not the crony companies? This was another big black mark his administration earned when it it tried to “rationalize” subsidies and raise prices of essential consumer goods.

In the arena of democracy, Najib has tried to create a legacy for himself. He has formed the International Global Movement of the Moderates but it has backfired. His own repressive acts – such as in the harsh and brutal crackdown on the July 9 Bersih rally for free and fair elections – have robbed his newly-born GMM of its credibility.

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