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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Like Shahrizat, the writing is on the wall for Khairy and Rosnah

Like Shahrizat, the writing is on the wall for Khairy and Rosnah

The manner in which Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin chided the Umno Youth wing and Puteri Umno is telling. Muhyiddin, the Umno deputy president, minced no words saying both wings had yet to capture the full attention of the younger generation. Hence, he said the two wings should work harder to be effective and remain relevant and of use to Umno.

"I can't deny that they have carried out many programmes and activities but the question is whether those programmes and activities have captured the attention and won the hearts of the young people," Muhyiddin said in a recent interview with Bernama.

Muhyiddin said he also hoped that the younger generation of Umno members would take advantage of this year's assembly to raise issues concerning the aspirations of the "Generation Y' as they made up 40 per cent of the country's registered voters.

"So, they have to debate on the interests and the aspirations of this new generation, especially in terms of transparency, accountability, and whether what is being done will benefit them. All these aspects must be manifested in their debates at the assembly," he said.

But Gen Y does not like Umno's caveman style of politicking

Indeed, Muhyiddin’s observation of the Umno Youth wing led by Khairy Jamaluddin and Putri Umno under Rosnah Rashid Shirlin is not too far off the mark. But he is wrong in identifying the ultimate source of blame. Malaysia's Generation Y has no issues with voting nor debating issues. It is with Umno that Generation Y has an issue with! And neither Khairy and Rosnah have enough credibility to convince the extremely circumspect Gen Y into believing they are the salvation within a rotting Umno.

Indeed, it looks like Khairy and Rosnah - both of whom despite their youth are already wealthy beyond the imagination of the masses - are unable to 'lock minds' with Gen Y, generally defined as those born after 1984. This group of privileged youngsters, due to better education and more prosperous parents, tend to extremely scrupulous, disdainful of gains not obtained through their own merit and take enormous pride in their skills and knowledge.

Certainly, it takes more take a YBs Can Jump basketball tournament or incessant, sharp-tongued twitters to hook in the young these days. Gen Y would expect KJ and Rosnah to stand up, draw a line and protest when the overly patriarchal Umno, in the form of dinosaurs such as Muhyiddin amd Mahathir Mohamad, sputter what they regard as sheer nonsense.

But neither KJ nor Rosnah have uttered a squeak even when it came to recent Peaceful Assembly Bill, which practically robs Malaysians of their fundamental right to gather and express their views. This Bill is a huge No, No as far as Gen Y is concerned. Yet, KJ and Rosnah pretend not to notice.

Not 'real'

Both KJ and Rosnah can run all the activities and programs they wish to get young people to support Umno and thus, vote Barisan Nasional into power. But while the young Malaysia may attend the events, they are unlikely to vote Umno given the huge question marks on how 'real' Khairy and Rosnah really are.

More likely, Malaysia's Gen Y will see both these leaders as peddlers of poison ice-cream coated with Gen Y flavor. But once consumed, they will develop the same diarrhea that their parents and grandparents are now suffering.

During the July 9 Bersih 2.0 rally, there was a noticeable youth presence amongst the walkers. And these youths were came from all walks of life - rural or urban, female or male, rich or poor, tertiary or basic education.

Gen Y is aware of current issues affecting Malaysia and truly aspire for Malaysia to be the best that it can be. They can see through Najib's bluster and bombast of making Malaysia "the world's best democracy". They laugh at him. So, it is Umno itself which is clearly an obstacle to the aspirations of many Malaysian youths.

To Gen Y, the Umno patriarchs are senile

When Muhyiddin alluded to the failings of both Umno Youth and Putri Umno, he was kidding himself. He wasn't looking at the whole picture. Really, Muhyiddin should understand Gen Y will not be interested as long as either wing support the racist and religious stance taken Umno, the parent organisation.

Sad to say, neither wing has had the courage to break free and make its own stand reflecting what Gen Y wants. So far, both Youth and Puteri wings have gone contrary to parent Umno only on select issues, and these only at the surface level.

For example, Khairy said when the wing decided to take a contrarian view on several controversial issues such as the Internal Security Act, freedom of the press and on the Universities and University Colleges Act, many in the party had questioned his move. The right-wing in Umno found it hard to understand Umno Youth's direction as the wing had previously played the role of the champion of the Malays and was very radical on ethno-centric issues.

“They said we were championing issues that were similar to the opposition's agenda. “But I kept explaining that we need to change because this is what the young people want. We can still be radical but we have to be radical progressive and radical moderates. Now our efforts have paid off,” a defensive KJ said.

Self-praise is no praise

But have they really paid off? The delusional Khairy even seems to think that his Youth wing should be credited for the influencing Umno to change and for helping to keep Umno relevant. But to others, this was an example of why Khairy must go.

"He thinks he has done a lot but the fact is, he has done the least of any Youth leader in Umno so far. To Umno, the party as a whole, he is a washout and must be taken out. Frankly, I agree because Khairy is only putting on a show. He is preserving his own political reputation - not daring to be too ultra and yet not daring to really stand up and push for the reforms that Umno needs," a veteran Umno watcher told Malaysia Chronicle.

As for Puteri Umno, its chief Rosnah dismissed 'rumours' that she failed to get the full support of the “ladies in pink”.

“That is not true at all. We are as united as any movement can be. There are disagreements and there are times when some don’t agree with my ideas but otherwise, we are very close. To me, disagreements are part of the democratic process. It doesn’t distract us from our responsibilities in ensuring that UMNO remains relevant, especially to the younger generation,” Rosnah told the press last week.

Major shakeup in Umno after GE-13

Indeed, the words of the two leaders of the youth wings in Umno seem positive and they appear sure that they have done everything right and necessary for their party. So, why the negative comment from Muhyiddin?

As pundits say, interesting times are up for Umno.

With the 13th general election expected to be called in early 2012, chances are both Khairy and Rosnah will be allowed to save face so that Umno as a whole can close ranks and fight the Pakatan Rakyat opposition with all their might. But the signal to the delegates at the ongoing assembly is clear.

The Umno top leadership has acknowledged the failure of Khairy and Rosnah and will not oppose those who believe they can do a bettr job from contesting the posts of Umno Youth chief and Umno Puteri Chief at the party's internal polls slated for the second half of 2012 - after GE-13! This is the writing on the wall for Khairy Jamaluddin and Rosnah Rashid.

Both are expected to make for the same exit as Women's chief Shahrizat Jalil, although the chances are high Shahrizat may announce plans to step down before the GE-13 in order to boost the BN's chances. Rocked by a RM250 million corruption scandal involving the national livestock project NFC, Shahrizzat has denied involvement but she is facing an uphill battle for political survival.

Malaysia Chronicle

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