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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Umno, signs of political eclipse?

Umno is not indispensable. The right mix of societal forces can any time render the party meaningless in the country.
COMMENT
P-RamasamyBy P Ramasamy
Is Umno president Najib Razak so afraid of the DAP that he devoted his keynote speech in lambasting the party at the Umno general assembly? Why did he give so much importance to a party that by itself cannot come to power?
By attacking the DAP, was Najib trying to prove to the Malays that what matters to him are only their votes and that he doesn’t care about the non-Malays? The vitriolic attack against the DAP – that it is a secular ultra-liberal party and that if it comes to power it will do away with Malay ethnic and religious institutions – seems to be indicative of the vulnerable position of Najib as he prepares the BN coalition for the coming general election.
If Najib had been sure that he would win in the next general election comfortably with a fair share of non-Malay votes, I doubt he would have gone “berserk” against the DAP. The attack on the DAP shows, in large measure, his own vulnerable position as the prime minister of the country and whether he would be able to provide the crucial leadership to the BN in winning the election.
The tirade against the DAP was not something spontaneous. It is a logical development within the Umno circles, and emerges from the fact that all is not well with the party and the BN coalition. The inability to explain the 1MDB scandal, the move to cover up the money that went into the private accounts of Najib, the purge against leaders who expressed dissent and, lately, the climate of fear engendered by the crackdown on those who oppose the regime are telltale signs that things are not well with Umno.
Before this attack against the DAP, Umno made the expected move to officially cement its relationship with PAS, its former enemy, by endorsing Hadi’s private member’s bill that seeks increased penalties for offences under the shariah law. Since Najib has officially adopted the bill as a government bill, PAS and Umno have come together in a historic embrace to see the bill through Parliament.
It is doubtful that such a political embrace would have come without the recognition that Umno without PAS might have serious problems in convincing Malay-Muslims to vote for the coalition in the coming general election. By sealing the relationship with PAS, Umno wants to concentrate its energies on attacking the DAP and its coalition partners.
The demonisation of the DAP as the number one enemy of Malay-Muslims in the country is a calculated move to ensure uneasiness among the other opposition coalition partners and whether it is wise to cooperate with the “secular” and “un-Islamic” DAP.
While Najib might have gone on a terrible below-the-belt tirade against the DAP, it should be borne in mind that he has offered no solution to alleviate the economic problems and problems of governance that are seriously lacking in the country. The ringgit is fast sliding against the American dollar, foreign debts are mounting and corruption and abuses of power continue unabated. Najib might have sought financial and investment assistance from China, but whether such deals are going to come in early is in serious doubt.
The greatest irony is that while Najib is trying to have a cozy relationship with China, he is so hypocritical he denounces the DAP which has a formidable political base within the Chinese community. Yes, Najib wants a good relationship with the Chinese from China, but he is against those Malaysian “Chinese” who have moved away from the BN partners.
Whose fault is this? Is this the fault of the DAP or the fault of Umno and its non-Malay coalition partners who have deprived the Chinese and Indians of their rights and privileges as citizens of Malaysia?
Najib needs to be reminded, even if it is too late, that the fault is not in others, but in how Umno continues to betray and deny Malays and non-Malays of their legitimate political, social and economic concerns.
Umno is not indispensable. The right mix of societal forces can any time render the party meaningless in the country.
P Ramasamy is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang. FMT

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