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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mend your ways, Umno

For a long time now, Umno has been 'in the red' due to the sheanigans of its top leaders, who seem to have little or no shame in indulging in acts that go against the very grain of the party.

COMMENT

Should the country’s largest poltical party, the United Malay National Organisation or better known as Umno pride itself for having become larger than life, if best, for the sake of its survival, think again.

As the party stands today, the despicable power-play and miserable antics of its top guns have only proved otherwise.

The recent occurences involving Umno’s bigwigs are a clear reflection of the tattered image the party is left with.

The most recent controversy involves Umno Wanita chief, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil who having lost her parliamentary seat in the 2008 general election to youngster Nurul Izzah Anwar of PKR made a “comeback” into politics via the “backdoor” after being appointed a senator.

Three years down the road and Shahrizat, who is the women, family and community development minister has made news for the wrong reason. Currenty embroiled in a fiasco involving allegations of misuse of state funds, Shahrizat has to prove that she is worth every vote.

Lashing out at the opposition for trying to ruin her political career will not do. Shahrizat, instead, has to come clean with the rakyat on why and how her husband Dr Mohamed Salleh Ismail became the NFC director.

The NFC first became embroiled in controversy when its operation was criticised in the Auditor-General’s Report for 2010.

The report, released last month, criticised the RM250 million federally-funded cattle project, pointing out that it was now “in a mess”. It also said production in 2010 was only 3,289 head of cattle or 41.1% of the target set.

The “helping hand” lent to Shahrizat by Umno deputy chairman and deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin is not going to absolve Shahrizat, a lawyer by training, of wrongdoing.

Muhyiddin’s declaration that the public should be the best judge of the NFC fiasco and that there is no reason for Shahrizat to resign, in spite of pressure mounting for her to do so, has only proven that cronyism is still very much the order of the day in this country.

Umno in the red

For a long time now, Umno has been “in the red” due to the sheanigans of its top leaders, who seem to have little or no shame in indulging in acts that go against the very grain of Umno, that is to uphold the aspirations of Malay nationalism and the dignity of race, religion and country.

And whilst Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak keeps reiterating calls to reduce ethnic tensions and protect minority rights, the truth as ironical as it is, is clear that Umno is doing otherwise by consciously stoking racial sentiments.

Time and again the race issue is raised by Umno using its general assembly platform, forewarning the non-Malays not to “mess” with the Malay rights laid down in the Federal Constitution.

It was in 2006 that then Umno Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein at the Umno Youth assembly warned the Article 11 Group of bringing up the issue of Article 11 and Article 121 (A) of the Federal Constitution.

Hishammuddin was also against the setting up of the Inter-religious Commission. The Article 11 Group undertook a nationwide campaign to make people aware of their rights to religious freedom.

In 2006, Hishammuddin had said: “Umno Youth opines that questions and issues relating to Islam should be heard and decided by the syariah court and not the civil court in line with Article 121 (A) of the Federal Constitution.”

He added: “Do not make fun, question and challenge the position of the Malays and Islam in this country. Any movement, in whatever form or name, even in the name of religious freedom, freedom of speech or press freedom, will not be allowed to challenge the rights as enshrined in the country’s constitution.”

Umno serving the chosen few

Earlier this month, Gerakan president Koh Tsu Koon announced his decision not to contest in the coming 13th general election, citing personal reasons. But to DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng who is also Penang chief minister, Koh was forced by Umno to call it quits, a claim which Umno has denied.

Looking at Umno’s track record of trying to brainwash Penangites against Lim’s administration in the hope of conquering the state in the next general election, there is little reason to doubt Lim’s claim of Umno’s hand in getting Koh out once and for all.

That is just Umno, having long strayed from its objective of upholding the dignity of race and country.

The party’s reason d’etre these days is to suppress the non-Malays and make sure the nation’s wealth is shared among its selected cronies, as seen through the NFC scandal.

When Umno’s second-in-command Muhyiddin showed no interest in solving the controversy surrounding the Malay novel Interlok (which has been made the literature text for Form Five students beginning this year despite depicting the Indians and Chinese in a condesending manner), it was a loud and clear signal that Umno cares two hoots about the sentiments of the non-Malays who are also the rakyat of this country.

Riding on “Umno power”, Muhyiddin also lambasted the organiser of Seksualiti Merdeka which early this month organised a festival aimed at providing space and forum for the LGBTIQ (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, intersex and queer) community, saying both the government and Umno found it “totally non-beneficial” to Malaysians. The festival has since been deemed illegal by the police.

What really is beneficial then? Was the purchase of a luxury condomionium in Bangsar by NFC director using state funds “beneficial”?

Or was forcing pupils of a primary school in Ampang to go to Umno’s division office to receive the RM100 education aid made available through the 2012 Budget beneficial?

On Nov 18, FMT reported Wanita PKR chief Zuraida Kamarudddin as saying that instead of the amount being banked into their accounts, the students ended up receiving it from Ampang Umno division head Ismail Kijo at the Umno Ampang office at Jalan Bukit Belacan.

What was Ismail trying to depict by doing so, that it was Umno’s pocket money being distributed to the students? Or was it a subtle bribery tactic to win the students’ parents’ votes? Whatever it is, that definitely was a pathetic attempt at trying to gloss over Umno’s reputation.

All the above is merely the tip of the icerberg. Suffice to say that until and unless Umno mends its way, this “narcisstic” party has a lot to lose, in more ways than one.

Jeswan Kaur is a freelance writer and a FMT columnist.

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