Sunday, May 20, 2018

The New Opposition's key imperatives

UMNO, MCA and MIC needs to deconstruct and reconstruct. By his initial public pronouncements, Khairy Jamaludin seems to be one of the UMNO stalwarts who has a finger on the pulse of the changed Malaysian electorate. But, KJ's utterance that UMNO may need to consider transforming into a multiracial party may not be shared by other party members. It is likely that there will be significant numbers in UMNO who actually believe that it was all Najib's fault and, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Ketuanan Melayu and, the apa lagi Cina mahu narrative. The call by Ali Rustam for members not to contest the top positions is a reminder that the lessons of GE14 will take quite some time for UMNO to learn.

Meanwhile, MCA's leaders say that they will consider transforming into a multiracial party. The MIC appears to be licking its wounds without any significant pronouncements.

Before going further on this, let us be reminded that these Barisan Nasional component parties are very wealthy, with shareholdings in various corporations. And, these component parties have a very wide network of branches. With proper leadership and a new brand positioning they are more than capable of becoming a credible and formidable Opposition.

But, so far, there is no evidence of any transformation. These are early days.

If UMNO sticks with its Ketuanan Melayu and, the apa lagi Cina mahu narrative, UMNO will decline further. 

If the MCA quickly transforms into a multiracial party, it has a good chance to come back to life.

Generally, the BN component parties must go beyond nitpicking. They have to be mindful of the rich ironies of their public pronouncements since May 9, 2018. So far, all their statements have been cringeworthy.

For example, when you hear UMNO leaders speak about the need for the Rule of Law you cannot help cringeing and recalling the following-
  1. 3 members of the 1MDB investigative team of the MACC Chief (Abdul Kassim), Bank Negara Governor (Zeti) and, Attorney-General (Gani Patail) were "neutralised";
  2. Gani Patail, in particular, was summarily removed;
  3. The Public Affairs Committee of the Parliament's report on 1MDB was declared an Official Secret, not available to the public;
  4. Jamal and the Red Shirts could do things with impunity while the Yellow-shirted Bersih was yanked on a super-short leash;
  5. And, the list goes on and on and on.
A senior colleague of mine made the observation 2 years ago, about how amazing it was that, in the Malay community there was hardly any moral outrage at the goings on in UMNO and its government. Well, it took a combination of Mahathir, Anwar, Lim Kit Siang, Wan Azizah and their team to spark the moral outrage that straddled all Malaysian communities at all levels.

That said, we should also temper our thoughts with the acknowledgment that even if 60% of the voters went with Pakatan Harapan and PAS, 40% stayed with UMNO-BN. And, 30% of the Malay vote went to PAS.

Inasmuch as Pakatan Harapan is figuring out what went right, UMNO-BN needs to take a brutally honest post-mortem on what went wrong. I know everyone who is anyone has a long litany of categorical bile to list out to UMNO-BN on what went wrong for them. 

The problem is that within UMNO-BN there are still many, many who hold on to the belief that Ketuanan Melayu and, the apa lagi Cina mahu is still relevant.

MCA is attempting a new narrative. I don't see anything coherent yet. But it may come.

UMNO is the interesting one to watch. At the moment, it is highly doubtful that the current crop of UMNO leaders will abandon the Ketuanan Melayu and, the apa lagi Cina mahu narrative.

But, it's early days yet. And, let us remember that Malaysians now, well and truly, live in the era of Hope.


walla said...

The collective effect from focusing on just Najib's travesties is to deflect attention from the fact all the other Umno leaders are equally complicit in leveraging their positions for spoils out of the rakyats' funds.

Many were more than accessory to the crimes of corruption and abuse of power given to them as servants of the rakyat. They were co-conspirators in stoking racism in order to keep Umno's power base.

They had also turned a blind eye to the politically-motivated murders of innocents and theft of state funds unresolved to this day.

Therefore, Umno's continuation as a political party is not doable because the present crop of its leadership is still made of those who have abused their power and the list is long, the corruption wide and embedded, the perpetrators unrepentant and their punishment forgotten in the elation and euphoria of the rakyat.

For instance, has anyone asked Zahid whether and how he has rm230 million? Or Musa Aman, Ismail Sabri, Ali Rustam, Md Isa, Mohamad Hasan, Jamal Yunos, even Md Taib as Alliance leader? Has anyone forgotten how the RM100 million Sports Ministry scam was subsequently hushed up when Khairy was helming that ministry? How about Shahrizat made senator despite cowgate? What about the Drainage Dept case in Sabah?

Beyond cringeworthy statements they made, there are hundreds of such abuse of justice by Umno's leaders and hangers-on that have directly affected the national Treasury as custodian of rakyats' funds. It's not just at the federal level but also in the states. It's not just about dishing out rm50 and rm100 notes to corrupt the minds of Malay voters but also millions of ringgit of wired deals inflated in price to purloin under-table money as inducements for political favors. If they stand before the jury in today's Nuremberg or Tokyo trial, what will be the verdict and sentence?

Therefore, the Umno today remains the same hypocritical Umno before the 9th of May. And if its leadership are evicted to stand trial for their crimes, who can take their place? Many of the down-lines are equally complicit. They took favors and handouts that they knew didn't come from Umno but the rakyat. And minions as they have been for so long, how are their members to test new candidates for integrity? What qualifications do they have in the first place to do so in order to create a new Umno leadership that can be a credible checks-and-balance opposition in Parliament to watch over Pakatan? After all, members of a political party that has never checked-and-balanced itself cannot arrogate to itself to check-and-balance others, can it as an immoral and unrepentant political party?

walla said...


Which comes next to the MCA. Because Umno took the role of championing 'bangsa, agama dan negara' with the Malay race influencing the tone of religion and state despite this country being multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-communal, MCA's role was to counterbalance Umno. Voters have seen how it has failed time and again to do so. Hence, its political standing and fate today.

Therefore, if Umno cannot be reconstructed, how can MCA be reconstructed if it is to maintain the same role it had tried to play before? Will it as a single-MP party in the opposition wing of Parliament, furthermore won on phantom votes, be checking and balancing what its compatriots of Umno or those in PAS will be doing more than what Pakatan will be doing?

Which comes to Pakatan. At the moment, Mahathir's age is telling on his energy level despite years of Malaysia-politic experience, many of which his own making. There must be some serious horse-trading in the background at the moment on the rest of the Cabinet seats to be filled just as one can see how the rakyat are dismayed at some of those already nominated.

But let's ask ourselves if not him, who to do it? Anwar is less known for his national organizational skills than for his speaking acumen and the record still stands he has been instrumental in propping his popularity among the Malay Muslims by spreading suffocative neo-salafism in this supposedly secular state that is Malaysia. Isn't that why so many voters are now rankling about the nomination of the new education minister on the premise that Mahathir must have acquiesced to Anwar's PKR which had also in lesser words publicly questioned the Finance nomination so soon after the win?

If PKR doesn't pull up its socks to go beyond its pedestrian seats distribution focus, then more people will indirectly suspect Mahathir is trying to hijack the cabinet whereupon Pakatan will have a harder time (a) making the first national political transition, (b) exposing and clearing the mess left by Barisan, (c) building a new and more progressive nation, (d) making Umno and others pay their dues and crimes, (e) navigating around the minefield of a pro-Umno royalty whose fortunes are tied to the primacy of Islam which is used as unifying chain by a hypocritical PAS forever lying (two verbs) in the background to pounce come GE15, and (f) tapping its new-given mandate delivered with so much difficulty and suffering by the rakyat of Malaysia.

So, better the devil we know than one we don't. That's how the rakyat can watch over the future of their country. The true test of democracy. The lessons of history.

de minimis said...

Agreed. The deconstruction of UMNO and MCA is the Malaysian political equivalent of Hercules cleaning the Augean Stable. It is a Herculean task.