Umno seems headed for a fall


Raggie Jessy

Have you ever wondered what it would take to piece UMNO together again?

Now, we all know how some from within UMNO intend to sell Najib down the river, in rupiah. Perchance, you got to that point already, and are now drifting further down the creek where someone is bound to sell someone else, sooner than later.

But did you know that rivers do eventually meet oceans?

At least, most of them do. And that’s precisely where you’ll be before you can say UMNO, because you won’t find bridges for you to cross along the way. You won’t, because Mahathir seems to be burning Najib’s bridges in front of him. You see, politicians are those who build bridges where there are no rivers. Here, in Malaysia, we build them over rivers, and burn them later.

Withal, should you get to that bridge where Mahathir stands anticipating Najib, you will find him haggling with his adherents, who appear to have another think coming. They have, because experience taught them that no premier can be a good premier, so long as Mahathir ceaselessly prods the established order.

But that’s just a handful of them. The rest, of course, would never say never to a pass for Timbuktu. That is to say, they’re ready to barter Najib for cockerels should circumstances begin to favour Mahathir. And that’s how it is with Malaysian politics.

So why crack your head over UMNO, when even the staunchest of adherents are divided between the rupiah and cockerels?

The question you ought to be asking yourself is this; why aren’t the king’s horses or his men in favour of piecing UMNO together again?

1. Inching to a Country Mile

Let us start where it all began:

Once upon a time, Tun Razak upended an hourglass within the corridors of power. He sat at it along with adherents and mapped out NEP, a 20 year resolution to appease hardcore dissidents from all walks of life. In principle, it was ethnic branding on economic and geographical underpinnings that he sought to stamp out, the very lace that brought pass to the 1969 riots. And those who survived the drumhead lived to tell the tale.

But Razak was a pseudo-liberalist. He did not really seek to usurp the rights and liberties of non-Malays. Instead, he sanctioned the NEP with a conviction that nothing is impossible until it is. And he believed that it was possible for the Chinese and the Malays to par the ante on entrance fees towards economic supremacy.

Put simply, he sought to level the playing field on borrowed time, by getting Malay farmers and fishermen to understand how and why the Chinese had ascended to the apex of economic supremacy. In essence, he sought to hand fishermen and farmers spades and shovels, hoping that they would learn how to make their own spades and shovels in due time.

Over the years, descendents of these farmers and fishermen became lettered, the upshot of which was their migration to cities. There, they weren’t able to make the grade in business, while those who persisted barely kept their noses above the water. Laid back, they rarely made it to the upper echelons of non-government establishments.

All this changed when the government began extending spades and shovels to these city dwelling Malays, charting the course for a Malay chapter in business equity. But rather than learn to make their own tools, they began digging trenches to government structures, building pipelines that ended in their stables. Some politicians weren’t chafed by this development; instead, they began to anticipate gains in political mileage by extending more spades and shovels to the lettered Malay, who they deemed vulnerable. And before they could say Hussein Onn, trenches made way for larger channels, rolling up a legion of reliant and vulnerable voters.

A sizeable faction to these legions progressed to become entrepreneurs, and in turn, recruited a workforce comprising a chunk from the next generation of Malays. Recruits had their hands on the spades and shovels of their executives, digging deeper and wider channels. This augmented capital stakes and compounded resources, turning once novice entrepreneurs into commanding magnates. And yet, they assumed precarious postures. They did, because their dependence on these large channels made them inherently weak and subservient.

Meanwhile, middle income segments couldn’t possibly have dug channels deep enough to keep up with their predecessors, while those among them who badgered politicians for spades and shovels were really coming at it from deserted stables. They wanted in just as bad as the first generation of Malay entrepreneurs, who had come off with flying colours. Others knew of odds, and resented trying. The rest, of course, drifted along, with typical ancestral complacency.

Withal, there just is that much icing you could afford on a cake. You see, no government can really manage an economy without a middle class majority, and can’t afford to turn everyone into multi-millionaires.

Now, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. And this is why some from among the middle class Malays paid visits to the stables in the first place. Not that they were beggars, no. But they yearned for some of that icing, which they presumed to be their birthright. When they found no horses to ride, they began carrying chips on their shoulders, loathing the opportunistic upper class.

And that is precisely how the upper and middle class Malays drifted a country mile. They did, because the government gave them a delusory sense of hope by extending too many spades and shovels to a select minority too fast.

2. The Resurrection of Muslim Liberalism

Politicians of the day verged on delusory assessments, believing that the people were happy as a calm. Now, that was as far from the truth as Mother Teressa was from Hitler. And yet, calm did prevail, since they kept their faithful fulfilled by stretching opportunities and pacifying dissent, as Mahathir did with strokes of ingenuity.

Thus, Mahathirism was an era of aristocratic-capitalists, seeking to keep Malays pacified and cosmetically adequate. The Malays didn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of surviving against the Chinese on their own, while the middle class remained dependent either on the upper class or the government for decent positions. And the growing middle class unceasingly begrudged the upper class their good fortune.

But politicians worked together enmesh to perpetuate a hereditary status quo. They kept the upper class content, but never sought to assuage the middle class, because to them, the middle class was a defenceless group that would never see a future beyond UMNO.

Truth be told, the upper class really had their representatives at ransom, but just didn’t realize it. In due time, however, they themselves proliferated into a hereditary legion of capitalists who were cognizant of their worth. Now, their overlords couldn’t do jack shit; channels had gradually evolved into large rivers. That is to say, the leash was as much on the politician as it was on the upper class Malay, in a confederacy delineated by business and political capitalism.

Over time, the middle class ditched the stables, having grown tired of waiting for the horses to return. They began building boats while capitalists arbitrated and negotiated deals on bridges they erected across these rivers. Meanwhile, the likes of Kit Siang and Anwar made headway for these rivers to help the legion of Malay dissidents assemble an armada of warships to sail these rivers.

So when the middle class set sail, they headed straight for the ocean. By then, they were relatively equitable and united, and conformed to a confederacy of leftists and liberalists, who now have their cannons pointed at capitalists atop the bridge. That’s right; they’re all ready for an invasion of sorts, at whatever cost.
And that’s precisely how UMNO lost a large chunk of Malay support.

3. There are Two Sides to Every Chong

Now, let us get on with the question of the Chinese, within context of nation building:

By any standard, a good citizen is law-abiding; one who selflessly places the country above personal gains or needs. And that may be all it takes to define nation building.

Now, your ability to place the nation above personal gratification isn’t always mechanical. That is to say, when you have the luck of the devil and are happy, you tend to be a good citizen with an innate disposition for equanimity.

But your penchant for nation building may yet be dubitable, because your lettered frame of mind has yet to play pucks with the devil. Put differently, we have yet to see what happens when the government of the day doesn’t serve to your liking.

So let us assume for a moment, that you don’t gain much personally from the powers-that-be. Thus, whether or not you perceive the government to be in the running order depends on your slant towards constitutions of a just and equitable representation.

Take Chong, for example. To Chong, acing his STPM would mean a fair crack of the whip. Any alternative would be a bit much, because Chong set his sights on being a surgeon, almost as if his life depended on it.

Thus, denying Chong an opportunity to do medicine would earn the government his ire, particularly when Malay candidates wide off his mark secure positions he couldn’t. He could go so far as to accuse the powers-that-be of racial bigotry, along with a brigade of Chinese dissidents who have been regarding UMNO with repugnance since Kit Siang.

Conversely, Chong could espouse an accommodating viewpoint, appreciating the need for fairer and equitable partakes of the economic pie among the races. He could stand in line without the moral shock of nascent intimacy among the races. In simpler terms, he could comprehend the need for a unified race of Malaysians, which requires some sacrifice from opulent sects. And quite frankly, the truth lies somewhere between these extremities.

You see, on one hand, some quarters have begun trumping up the need for more spades and shovels to be extended to the Malays. Now, this is coming from within UMNO, 58 years post independence and 23 years post NEP. But on the other hand, the Chinese were never bent on seeing UMNO through rose-tinted glasses. Rather, they accused the government of bigotry since the days of Tunku, when Malaysia was yet an infant sovereign.

And back then, political intervention was necessary in levelling a playing field monopolized by the Chinese, whose egos were too big for their boots. Be that as it may, the Chinese have never had a penchant for nation building, and never professed to the need for fairer partakes of the economic pie. But then, neither did the UMNO led government ever make concessions to hammer in nation building as a canon towards a unified Malaysia since the days of Tunku. They never did, because they were as complacent then as they are now, discounting prospects of a political debacle due to the Chinese.

And that’s precisely why old-school UMNO protagonists like Mahathir will never see eye to eye with the Chinese.

4. Where the River Meets the Ocean

Let’s get back to the crux of this discussion.

If a just and equitable representation means to you what the Gettysburg address meant to Lincoln in 1863, you’re all for the people, even if your wallet was emptier than a banker’s heart. You’d judge the government of the day by virtue of merit. That is to say, you’d be quite the pragmatic and rational intellect with your assessments and convictions.

Ideally, you’d allow arithmetic to adjudicate on the question of rights, liberties and virtues of governance. You would, because the rights of the many outweigh those of the few. I spoke at length on this in another article (, and shan’t repeat myself here.

So forget your ancestral trait or heritage; when the legion to a collective says that ‘too many Chongs spoil the broth’, the line would have been drawn. Thus, when ‘the many’ dictate that Chong be denied an opportunity to do medicine, there is no room for negotiation.That’s democratic arithmetic for you.

Under these circumstances, royal decrees or legal judgments may not necessarily be fair or virtuous. Instead, they serve to address the greater good of the many against the needs of the few. It stands to reason, that you should be happy when you’re told that ‘the many’ are happy. And since the Malays are a legion among ‘the many’, we shall now revert to the Malays, rather than harping on ‘the many’.

Now, democracy demarcates equity and justice with convention, or attitudes and practices deemed permissible by a collective you may be a member of. These conventions have primarily been dictated by the Malays since the days of Tunku. They (the Malays) were once a relatively united legion, irrevocably bound by Islamic tenets via Articles 3 and 121(A) of the Federal Constitution. That is to say, Malays are constitutionally Muslims, who once decided when and how your rights and liberties would end. And that was the order of things.

Constitutionally, that remains the order of things to this day. But while you have a field day connoting the Chinese with cabals or rogue confederacies, it may interest you to know that the average Chong is bound by singularity, a language that far escapes the Muslim man of the day. Remember the armada of Malay ships in the ocean I spoke about? They have their cannons pointed at their own brothers and sisters, haggling with politicians on bridges. It goes, that the Muslims in Malaysia live in houses divided against them.

You see, political demarcations of the day are such, that the Chinese are synonymous with DAP, while the Muslims range anywhere between the rupiah and cockerels we spoke about at the beginning of this article. Essentially, they’re everywhere and nowhere altogether. And that’s precisely how and why DAP has gradually become the ‘silent legion’.

Put differently, it’s a war between DAP and the Muslims, even if DAP appears to have its cannons aimed only at politicians. Meanwhile, capitalist Malays and politicians, who have their canons aimed at just about every conceivable recusant, are now aiming these cannons at themselves.

That’s right; they’re on a suicide mission.

So while DAP protagonists seem focused with their intrigues, UMNO and its legion appear to be headed for the ocean, with liberalists and leftists anticipating their arrival while chewing on steel.

5. UMNO may have a Great Fall

Perhaps one can now appreciate just why the King’s horses and men are reluctant to piece UMNO together again. Najib realises that he can’t depend solely on the Malays, which explains his bid to the Chinese. In essence, Najib feels that UMNO needs Chinese votes to survive, because the Malays stand as divided as they could ever be. And frankly, he is right on the dot.

But Mahathir doesn’t seem to think so. He knew all along, that beggars who were set on horseback would ride to the devil. Perchance, that explains why Mahathir shut the stable doors only after the horses had bolted.

Now, it was Mahathir who had built bridges over rivers in the first place, atop which he commuted votes into fortune. But as we’ve seen, that really set liberalists and leftists sailing down to the ocean over the years. So we can’t blame Najib for heading to the devil’s den with the hope of getting his horses back. He needs to get them back to the stables, so that leftists and liberalists will contemplate ditching their vessels for his stables.

But rather than help Najib tug runaway horses back, Mahathir has set his sights on burning Najib’s bridge in front of him. Now, without bridges, both Mahathir and Najib would have to fend off while rafting on the river. Be that as it may, they would drift onto the ocean, only to be met by an armada of angry liberalists and leftists, who would probably be done chewing steel into bullets by then.

Perhaps now you can comprehend why Najib needs to consolidate his legion and face off with Mahathir. Otherwise, UMNO will risk being trampled by all of the King’s horses and all his men in due time.