Wednesday, March 25, 2009

UMNO: A correct move and a caveat

Addressing the joint opening of Wanita UMNO, UMNO Youth and Puteri UMNO general assemblies at the Putra World Trade Centre, Najib is reported to have said that the right to choose leaders should be given to the greater number of members to reflect the preferences of more than three million UMNO grassroots members.

In his speech Najib is quoted as having said, "To my mind, the time has come for us to review the selection of UMNO leaders that will be more inclusive of a greater number of UMNO members from all levels.

"This move will enable us to end money politics and abuse of power. This is the path we must take, if we are to regain the strength of the party by returning to the grassroots the mandate for choosing party leaders."

This is a correct suggestion and assessment. If the UMNO Constitution is amended to do away with this odious nomination procedure - which was at all times designed to favour the incumbent - it will go a long way to re-institute democratic practices back into the party.

And, in my humble estimation, it will be a catalyst to regenerate the much-maligned party.

But, to all and sundry who are participating in the party proceedings, please do away with the annoying, cloying, gallery-pandering tribal antics about "us" and "them" replete with the self-serving brandishing of ancient bladed weapons.

It may play well to a mob.

But in the reductive effect that television has on oratorical and gesticulatory flourishes, such gallery-pandering tribal antics about "us" and "them" only makes the speaker and, the party, look like a mob that is completely out of touch with the reality of multiracial, multiethnic and multicultural Malaysia.

And, as we all know, it also has an annoying tendency to cause the loss of valuable votes.

Full text of Najib's speech.

I must say that I am relieved after having read the text of Hishamuddin's speech to the Pemuda UMNO that he has refrained from the "us" and "them" polemic that I was quite worried about. Kudos to him for that restraint.


walla said...

We are at that stage of nationhood where the greater risk is to depend on iconic figureheads representing the political flavor of the day.

The thrust forward must be decisiveness twinned to progressiveness predicated on getting everyone to think hard and fast on questions like:

What is the end-point in view that offers the best steps forward which will equip as many as possible for a more demanding future?

What steps must be taken today which will help the challenged overcome their present hurdles in order to propel themselves later into progress made mainstream?

What is important for the economic survival of the individual, his family, and their nation so that one and all can in their own time and by their own means achieve greater latitude of choices that will offer more options to redefine their identity, their community and this nation, thereby freeing all from the chains of self-imprisoned mindsets?

For too long, this nation has been run by people who play to their respective galleries.

If we don't make the most serious of efforts to change both mindsets and approaches to modernize our minds and processes, we will be marginalized not by race but by country.

That marginalization is wider in scope, deadlier in effect and virtually irretrievable in result than any marginalization so perceived to be combated just by holding on to some unsupportable notions of cultural affinities.

hishamh said...

Slightly off topic, but I continue to be flabbergasted that Youth political movements in this county allow membership up to age 40. Doesn't anybody else find this crazy? Given Malaysia's demographics, with 1/3 below the age of 21, is it any wonder that political parties are out of touch with the nation's youth? The age limit ought to be restricted to 30 and below.

I get the feeling that political youth wings are just there to keep the 2nd level of political leaders busy.

de minimis said...


Haha, I, too, have always seen the ageing "youth" leaders as an anachronism. I seem to recall that the oldest Youth leader was Syed Albar in the 1970s when he was already past gerontocracy. Got to check the history books.