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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Umno must change or perish


Can Umno be reformed or re-branded? What is the actual problem with Umno?
Does Umno appreciate and understand multiracialism and secularism? And is Umno capable of defending the critical interest and the integrity of Malaysians?
While Umno may not have accepted the reasons for their defeat on May 9, it is but the voters rejecting the party and its leadership.
What actually dragged Umno down was corruption, abuse of power, arrogance and misfeasance which plagued the party for too long. No temporary solution of any kind is possible.
It was a huge letdown when Umno leaders began to re-write the country’s supreme law. You cannot re-write what is essentially a secular document. The constant challenge to the secular document by the local authorities and the questioning of liberal ideologies effectively weakened our democracy.
Given the ideological difference, is Umno capable of change? Since 1969, the actual struggle of Umno placed considerable importance and attachment on race and religion and this urge has never wavered thus it has now undermined and threatened our multiracialism and secularism.
When race and religion become central issues in a political struggle, then such beliefs can easily contaminate moderation, liberalism and our glorious past.
If there isn’t a commitment to secularism, moderation and liberalism and irrational considerations are taken into account to defeat secularism, I'm convinced we cannot embrace new politics and policies except to blather on endlessly.
In essence, the absence of commitment to defend the secular state and constitution has now portrayed Umno as an enemy of the state and democracy.
Unless Umno learns to be progressive, deals with the changing times and circumstances and be more open and democratic, it has no role to play today. Any re-branding or transformation Umno is keen to undertake must be sincere, transparent and accountable or otherwise, it would be illusional.
It was none other than Umno in the past which advocated inclusiveness and demonstrated a grand vision. But what we had was a grand scandal, corruption and cronyism and authoritarian dominance.
If Umno is not capable of displaying equitable and fairer terms of engagement then all that past glory will definitely vanish.
It is imperative for Umno to depart permanently from race to issue-based politics if they desire to remain relevant and also they must be ready to build new solidarities.
Many Umno leaders after GE114 may retire or distance themselves from its past politics and some may even abandon and exit the party permanently.
The constant failure to read the pulse of the nation resulted in their miserable performance. If the legacy of Umno is to continue, either you change or perish.

The writer is a former ISA detainee. -Mkini

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