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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dr M, false pride, Pakatan bashing, racism, religion and sex to dominate Umno AGM


Former Umno president Mahathir Mohamad is very desperate indeed. He has no choice but to sing praises for Najib – right or wrong. If BN falls under Najib in the next general election, UMNO would relapse into a coma. It’s then going to be a new political era in Malaysian politics, which most Malaysians are looking forward to. UMNO is now already caught in quicksand. A disenchanted Mahathir now observes UMNO as a party of opportunists – all out to grab power and secure huge contracts from government. The members are no more loyal to the party or work for party sake. Money and power have muddled their minds and visions.

UMNO’s AGM this week is probably the last before the 13th General Election. The delegates would once again be babbling on unrelated issues such as race and religion – the same old tales being repeated regularly to lull and sedate the delegates and the poor Malays out there. This, as usual, would be prime fodder for the pro-UMNO media to be used to propagate and win sympathy from the rural Malays, when in reality UMNO has let down the poor Malays. Customarily, the AGM would always be out of focus – adopting to its usual ‘denial syndrome’ on many crucial issues affecting the party and the nation.

It's only talk and a lot of hot air

UMNO has not learnt that the people have become tired of listening to their racial and religious rhetoric and clichés for umpteen years during their AGMs. The delegates now are gradually shifting their focus on more germane issues affecting the ailing party. Some despondent delegates are now more keen to know how UMNO has failed the nation. They would want to know how fraud, deception and corruption have crept into the party and government; why the country is not managed as it should be and, why the past four years has not seen any shift in the country’s economic development prompted by Najib’s government – the transformation agenda that has yet to see any transformation on the ground.

This failure only reminds the people of Najib’s predecessor’s era – the era of a ‘sleeping’ prime minister. It seems like, even post that era it is only talk and a lot of hot air by the leadership to again delude the people into thinking that everything in the country is hunky-dory. Some UMNO delegates would most likely be gracefully silent to see Najib failing the nation. Many UMNO delegates aligned to Najib are so desperate now that they are expecting non-other than the Grand Old Man – Mahathir – to intervene before UMNO is doomed forever. But, Mahathir is also not seen as the saviour for Najib, as there is a huge faction within UMNO itself who are against Mahathir and would want to see the fall of Najib. They are just impatient to see Najib fall to get to the top.

The delegates who are not in favour of the present leadership are expecting some fireworks during this AGM. They would not hesitate to enquire on the poor management of the economy and financial leakages that have given a bad image to the UMNO-led BN government. When states under Pakatan prosper and have shown apposite financial management as reported in the AG’s Reports, states under Barisan rule were found to be not that impressive in their performance despite UMNO and BN helming the country for almost six decades. It only took less than four years for Penang, Selangor and Kedah to school UMNO-BN led state governments on what prudent financial management is when the latter are still being mired in the sludge of wastage and corruption for many years.

This time around, some disgruntled UMNO delegates would want to ponder over this failure. Most of these delegates are not ‘village fools’. Many are educated and aspire to climb up the UMNO ladder and thus might air concerns about the poor governance with the hope that they be elevated to top party posts, candidates for elections or even ministers.

False pride in their ailing party

The UMNO AGM would want to delve into the governance of the country to transform UMNO’s image. The majority are not interested in pay increase and bonuses given to a selected few in the country. They are more worried about the escalating cost of living that would chase away voters from UMNO. They are aware that the non-wage earners are the worst affected by the price increase of essential items. The UMNO-led government seems to have no solution to overcome this problem. This shows how incompetent the government could be. To rub salt into the wound, taxpayers money has not been wisely spent. Each year the Auditor General (AG) would come up with solid evidence on how negligence and irresponsibility of the authorities have led to financial leakages. UMNO delegates are aware that Malaysians are getting fed up with the endless deception and misappropriation of funds of this nature.

The delegates would also be aware that there is a lack of transparency and accountability when it comes to government expenditure. UMNO’s superciliousness during these many years of holding on to power is failing the country due to these perennial financial fiascos. High inflation rate, diminishing rate of economic growth, high crime rate, lack of foreign investment, poor standard of education, corruption, lack of faith in the police, judiciary and the MACC are testimony to UMNO and BN’s failure in governance. UMNO’s AGM should allocate time to discuss all these issues instead of using emotions to stir up the delegates into having false pride in their ailing party.

On the ‘Malays’

Race, religion, and sex must always shade UMNO AGMs. These have always been UMNO’s trademarks. Perhaps this time around corruption and misappropriation of taxpayers’ money could be added to the agenda to clout the delegates’ thoughts.

Malays are perceptually divided because they perceive the government to be corrupt. They would however unite to deprive the incumbent of another chance to govern the country like what they almost did in the 2008 General Election. The media spin that the Malays or Islam is under threat in the country would not convince the people. Neither would sexploitation make the voters turn against the Opposition. Yet we could sense that these issues would be spun during the AGM to make the sessions more spicy.

Mahathir is possibly sober now. At one time he hinted that corruption could be a form of ‘lubricant’ to get things done faster. Mahathir has finally come to his senses after helming the party for 22 years and now seeing corruption rotting UMNO. He now says that corruption is a menace to society:

“ A civilised race would be the one that is able to control the urge to commit any wrongdoing, including corruption. If the society regards corruption as normal, then we will never be able to progress. Corruption could bring about adverse consequences, including precipitating a disaster such as building collapsing because substandard materials were used due to corrupt practices. Corruption could destroy the country if leaders were elected in a corrupt manner. A government that is corrupt will not be able to bring the country forward."

Mahathir, corruption and money politics

Mahathir – sensing that Najib is already standing on the edge for his final plunge – is making himself relevant for UMNO this time around. The AGM would not hesitate to make him deliver a speech. He may then likely espouse on party and corruption – one of his favourite topics these days. Money politics has messed up UMNO’s image though nothing much was done during his time as premier to curb this problem. When it was alleged that a lawyer wrote a judgment for a judge during his time, no further investigation was made. The much publicized Eric Chia’s case was a buried mystery. Many more corrupt cases during his time did not reach or failed in the court of law. Corruption was rife during his tenure as prime minister but nothing much was done to contain this pain in the neck. After all corruption was euphemistically known as ‘lubricant’ then. This culture of corruption and money politics now seem to have found its way into UMNO and BN. Hopefully, the AGM could come up with an antidote to this severe syndrome affecting the fabric of our society.

Mahathir may touch on the AG’s Report and give his two cents worth on how to overcome the misappropriation of government funds. This abuse and misuse of government funds are not new though. It happened almost every year during his time as premier too. The best person to decide on this unprofessional conduct would be the AG himself, not politicians. However, there has been no political will thus far to act on what the AG’s Reports have revealed to instil fear in those involved. Some delegates must be irked by the 2010 AG’s Report and the AGM hence would be a fine platform for the delegates to air their frustrations. Disclosures in the 2010 AG’s Report should be a special agenda at this AGM to show that UMNO is very concerned about proper management of the country. Fraud, deception and corruption cannot be tolerated, as espoused by born-again Mahathir.

Weak in Mathematics

To start the ball rolling, many delegates would condemn those who want the PPSMI – Mahathir’s brain child – to continue branding the proponents of this policy with all sorts of names to show to the delegates that they are not less patriotic than the others. This would offend Mahathir who still feels that the sciences should be taught in English in schools. The people are aware that this issue by the delegates at the AGM would be more to play on Malay sentiments. Anyway, most of them would not give a hoot about this issue as they are aware that most of the wealthy UMNO delegates’ children are studying overseas or in private schools.

Some delegates would cite that Malay children are weak in Mathematics just because it’s being taught in English. And they would probably pose this question: Why are some government servants incompetent and incapable of understanding the importance of proper placement of decimal points and making accounting mistakes that have resulted in improvident overspending? As the result of their lackadaisical attitude, a pensioner received RM21,433 a month instead of RM214.33 for 16 months. The gaffe was only detected after more than a year. This would justify the delegates’ reason why Mathematics should not be taught in English.

The good news is that the delegates would be treated with sumptuous food and drinks with sweet drinks aplenty to make them cheery. Following this would be talks on building more training centres for youth to make them more employed since many youths are unemployed these days and also there would be a lot to say about poverty in the country. Perhaps, a delegate would then want to raise this question: How could Giatmara Centre mistakenly pay RM170 per kg instead of RM1.70 per kg for sugar for a poverty eradication programme – RM25,500 for 150 kg of sugar? Could this be sugar of a special super brand from outer space?

To some delegates from Sabah this AGM would be a form of recreation or amusement for them far away from their state. Perhaps, a delegate from Sabah would want to raise this question: How could the Malaysian Marine Parks Department spend a whopping RM56,350 for a pair of night vision Marine binoculars – they paid 29 times more than the binoculars’ market value of RM1,940 a pair? A supplementary question to this would be: How could they pay for a pair of night vision Bushnell binoculars 1,893 percent more than its actual price of RM2,827?

Financial misdeeds

There would also be talks by delegates on sports and fitness by UMNO youths and Puteri UMNO. Perhaps a delegate would want to pose this question: How could the National Sports Institute acquire 23 horses totalling RM5.66 million without a Financial Ministry go-ahead and why none of these horses competed in two recommended international championships by the Sports Ministry?

There would be some fiery talk on the financial state of the country by the Minister of Finance – none other than Najib himself. Perhaps a delegate would want to pose this question: For the year 2010, the government approved a budget of RM149 billion for operating expenditure (OPEX). It was found to be not enough and they had to increase the OPEX to RM151 billion. How could nine ministries overspend their allocated budget? Why didn’t the government spend the RM2 billion on Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) to create more wealth for the country?

Though people would be more glued to their favourite TV programmes on Astro ignoring what is being televised by TV3 on the AGM, the people cannot deny that a lot of other forms of communication would be going on among UMNO delegates and the members in this digital era. Perhaps a delegate would want to pose this question: How could the RM142 million RazakSAT satellite malfunction barely a year after it was being commissioned?

With about 1300 pages of exposes of financial misdeeds, hanky-panky as well as misappropriation of public funds in the 2010 AG’s Report, UMNO delegates could have a gala day posing questions to their leaders to help rehabilitate UMNO and the government.

The people would just ignore them

Money spent by the government is taxpayers’ money. Some UMNO delegates would edify their leaders on this. The money does not belong to UMNO, BN or the Opposition. UMNO and BN should not be arrogant thinking that money dispensed to the people generously comes from their own pocket. If a party wants to be in power, the interests of the people is foremost and in managing taxpayers’ money those responsible must be accountable. They cannot afford to remain in power if deception and dishonesty are going to be their way of management. This is about the management of the country and not politics to grab or stay in power.

The fraud and deception mentioned in all the past Auditor General’s Reports must be accounted for and those responsible must be punished – whether or not they have connections with UMNO leadership. The UMNO AGM must allocate at least one whole day to debate on the voluminous documents relating to repeated transgressions by the authorities. Following that, ministers and authorities involved should be asked to resign or dragged into the MACC’s net. This is the only way for UMNO to regain trust from the people. If they decide to ignore the many complaints against abuse of position and money, the people would just ignore them in the next general election.

Imaginary threats to UMNO

As practised in the past, mere rhetoric on irrelevant issues would dominate the AGM. This is to divert the people’s attention and perception that sleazy and deceptive activities are going on in the government and that the country is not managed to people’s expectations. The AGM would certainly be entertained to the usual circus antics – jokes and satires – to sidetrack people’s attention to UMNO’s and BN’s incompetency in governance of the country. Deprived of pride and responsibility, the rhetoric would border on the imaginary threats on Malays by the Christians, the split in Malay unity, sexploitation to demean the Opposition and the sanctity of the Royalty.

All these have become political clichés that no ordinary people would want to listen to. The people know that these are issues created by UMNO to domestic the ordinary Malays into supporting them. In actuality, the people know that there is no threat whatsoever to the Malays in this country from any religion or race. They are aware that the less than ten percent Christian population in the country could never be a threat to the Malays. If truth is to be told, the Malays of today are united with all other Malaysians to seek a better government. They are aware that sex is just an implement to bring down political opponents. They are also aware that UMNO’s relationship with the Istana had never been sincere in the past. It’s a relationship merely for political expediency.

Mahathir’s stand on Royalty

The AGMs must touch on the Royalty without miss. However, using the word ‘ill-bred’ to describe a learned professor, or any human being for that matter, is so unbecoming of a real Malay.

Mahathir’s comments on the royalty in his Memoirs (2011) is testimony to UMNO stands for when it comes to the Royalty. On the constitutional amendments relating to the Rulers in 1982 and 1993 to limit the power of the Rulers, Mahathir had this to say:.

“Although the Malays had accepted democracy they were still very feudal in their thinking.” (p452)

The majority party should be able to reject the ruler’s choice simply by passing a vote of no confidence in him when the legislative body is convened. But the Malay custom and feudal attitudes can actually override the Constitutions. This is not healthy.” (p456)

“I felt strongly that somehow the amendments must be part of the Constitution.” (p457)

After the 1993 amended Bill on the Royalty was passed and gazetted, Mahathir had this to say:

“I felt much relief and so did all the leaders of the Barisan Nasional component parties.” (p464)

UMNO did it and now they should stop exploiting the Royalty to favour them at times when they face any political impasse. If this is done then it becomes a hypocrisy of the whole state of affairs involving the Constitution. UMNO should stick to the Constitution that they had partially amended – was passed in the Parliament with the full support of the Opposition at the time – for people to cherish true democracy in the country. There should not be any flip-flop as far as this matter is concerned.

UMNO delegates do not have to worry as the people of this country generally do not have complaints on our system of Constitutional Monarchy. They revere their Sultans. They would only become uneasy with UMNO when the Royalty is used to politically favour them.

Sweeping the matter under the carpet

There has to be a paradigm shift to UMNO’s AGM this time. UMNO delegates should be more concerned with what is happening to the taxpayers’ money, instead of harping on trivial issues like sex, race and religion or royalty – overdose of which is not healthy for the people’s mind. They should instead debate on corruption, abuse of taxpayers’ money, overpricing in procurement, negligence, incompetency, haughtiness and transgressions due to bureaucratic arrogance of officers – issues which are of more concern for the people.

UMNO-led government owes the taxpayers and the electorate an explanation. Year in, year out taxpayers have been outraged by the revelations of the 2010 Auditor-General Reports on the continuing financial scandals, hanky-panky and gross financial negligence in governance. It has all gone awry and off-beam since the year 1981. Away from routine sex, race and religion issues, the delegates should debate on the repeated irregularities of financial management under UMNO dominated BN, the poor race relations in our society, lack of opportunities for all Malaysians in education and jobs and the inflationary trend in prices of goods.

The over 1,300 pages of exposes of financial irregularities, hanky-panky as well as misappropriation of public funds in the first full year of Najib’s premiership should be debated to bring back honour to UMNO. Failing which – sweeping the matter under the carpet – would incur the wrath of UMNO members as well as the people at large. They would inevitably deny their support for the present government. The people on the street are not interested to hear trivial matters discussed at party AGMs. They are more concerned about all the financial leakages under Najib’s government and governments prior to this. Bringing Mahathir to rescue tumbling Najib is not the solution, and continuous arrogance would make UMNO none the wiser.

Malaysia Chronicle

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