Umno seems to have adopted a number of radical measures that has destroyed the spirit of consultation with component parties that BN had preserved for 6 decades.
Lim Sue Goan, Sin Chew Daily
With the spirit of democracy and rule of law retrogressing, the country’s international reputation suffering a major setback and under the gloom of a sluggish economy, Umno’s general assembly this week is set to be immersed in a much worse atmosphere than a year ago when the RM2.6 billion political donation scandal first came to light.
Last year, Umno had yet to sack Muhyiddin Yassin while Mahathir had yet to set up his own party. Umno today is in a much more difficult situation in comparison.
The party has been established for seven decades now, and in the past, even in the face of any major crisis, the party would never abandon the urban and middle voters or antagonize the civil society. Moreover, the party’s past leaders never condoned violence and thuggery this much.
In the past, Umno was strongly against PAS, and the delegates would hit out hard at the Islamist party. But today, these two parties are working together and the focus of this year’s debates is expected to be a “grand unity for the Malays and Muslims”.
This year’s assembly is expected to target its firepower at Mahathir because of his betrayal of Umno. That being said, the “political legacy” left behind by Mahathir is still very much enjoyed by Umno today. The party’s dilemma today could be attributed to a host of historical and political culture factors, and everyone from top down is liable.
Some say Umno has become so unitarily powerful that BN itself is being marginalized, and conservatism appears to be the natural political pathway the party should take. This is because racist politics can only rely on fundamental support base for survival in the very end, betraying the principles of democracy and distancing itself from the civil society, and in so doing plunging the country into a real mess.
As the backbone of the BN administration, Umno must never accept this kind of destiny. The party must take the initiative to defuse any political, economic or democratic crisis. Unfortunately the institution is now slanting, and Umno needs to save itself first before it can bail out the country.
Undeniably, as the 1MDB and MO1 issues get increasingly heated up, the BN mechanism has already been rendered irrelevant. Take the RUU355 to expand the jurisdiction of syariah courts for example, Umno leaders have never consulted other component parties, and even the green light offered to PAS president Hadi Awang to table his private bill in May was unknown to the other component parties beforehand.
To hold to the power, Umno has decided to adopt a number of radical measures to destroy the spirit of consultation that BN has preserved for so many decades while dealing a severe blow on the country’s moderate image. Members of BN’s component parties are believably unhappy with what’s taking place under their noses, and this does not augur well for a united BN to face the upcoming general elections.
Umno’s fortress is the vast rural Malay hinterland while other BN component parties still must face urban and young voters. The detention of Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah under Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) has put a fatal blow on the electoral prospects of other BN component parties.
Without effectuating change and restricting its members’ out-of-control actions, Umno is poised to put itself in a very precarious position.
Umno’s cooperation with PAS is also a highly risky game because this will only accentuate the Islamization of the society. In the long run, Umno will find itself led by the nose by PAS.
Youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin has said that among 687 tertiary students interviewed, some 133 or 19.5% subscribe to the philosophy of IS. As a matter of fact, Umno must adhere to the Islam Hadhari concept of former PM Abdullah Badawi in order to stem the advances of radicalism.
On the economic front, owing to the resistance from the party’s right wing, it is getting increasingly difficult for PM Najib to push ahead its NEM and economic transformation agendas. The economy will only slide further in the absence of new policies, reforms and liberalization. The dramatic falls of ringgit now should sound an alarming bell.
We cannot wrap ourselves inside the cocoon of antiquated thinking if we as a nation were to move forward, an example being the refusal by the Federation of Peninsula Malay Students (GPMS) to recognize the UEC certificate. Our competitiveness can only be lifted if all our talented people are accepted into the mainstay of this country irrespective of race and religion.