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Sunday, November 30, 2014

The mixed signals of the Umno Assembly

Umno must decide if it wants to play to the Malay gallery or to the non-Malay gallery as well. It cannot be all things to all people.
COMMENT
najib sabah sarawak umno 2Looking at things from an outsider’s perspective, the recently concluded Umno General Assembly can be said to have sent out mixed signals.
While the Umno assembly can be considered an internal party affair, in reality, the nation considers it more than just an Umno matter but a matter that affects the entire nation.
Hence what is decided at the Umno general assembly will affect all Malaysians and what is said, monitored by the entire nation. Since the delegates do not just speak for the party alone but for the whole country, the policies that are decided will become the country’s policy.
So Umno has to decide what message it wants to send out. Unfortunately, the message Umno is sending out is confusing and tantamount to mixed signals.
Umno also has to decide whether it wants to play to the Malay gallery or to the non-Malay gallery as well. Umno cannot be all things to all people.
If Umno wants to be a hardcore Malay nationalist party and just focus on the support of the Malays, then Umno must be prepared to lose non-Malay support. It cannot be both ways.
However, if this is the route that it chooses, Umno must remember that this may suit the Malay voters in West Malaysia but that does not mean it also suits the Bumiputeras of East Malaysia. Hence by strengthening itself with the Malays, Umno may have to lose the support of the East Malaysian Bumiputeras.
This may not be the best strategy to adopt considering that Barisan Nasional, and that means Umno as well, rules with the support of most of the 57 seats from East Malaysia, Labuan included.
Hence Umno needs to strike a balance between the aspirations of the Malays as well as the aspirations of the people of Sabah and Sarawak. And the rhetoric at the Umno assembly must reflect this aspiration, which, unfortunately, it does not.
Roslan Bistamam is an FMT columnist

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