MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Umno barking up the wrong tree by grumbling about Najib’s jailing


From Ibrahim M Ahmad

Umno must be living in a parallel universe.

While the jailing of former prime minister Najib Razak may have given rise to legitimate grievances in terms of the judicial process that consigned him to Kajang Prison for the next 12 years, what the party has failed to understand is that public sentiment wholly supports the end result achieved.

Any push to seek pardon for Najib, as so many in the party seem keen to pursue, will surely not go down well with ordinary Malaysians.

It cannot be denied that the 2018 general election (GE14) was a referendum against Najib and corruption.

The Federal Court decision which finally put him in prison can therefore be seen as the culmination of the rakyat’s sentiments. That explains the overwhelming exuberance felt all across the country when the decision was handed down – except, of course, within Umno.

If Saturday’s “Solidarity with Najib Razak” event was anything to go by, it is clear that Umno cannot see beyond “Bossku”.

Having led the party single-handedly for almost a decade officially, and then unofficially for another four years despite relinquishing the presidency, Najib succeeded in creating a vehicle which was solely reliant on him.

With no succession plan in place, his loss has thrown the party into confusion. It is a conundrum Umno seems unable to dig itself out of.

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi may command the respect of the majority within Umno, but he is a lame duck president who cannot lead the party into the coming 15th general election (GE15) due to his own battles with the law.

Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the sitting prime minister, is only slightly better off.

Appointed after Muhyiddin Yassin’s brief reign as prime minister became untenable, Ismail’s control is tenuous at best, as it relies on archrivals Bersatu and PAS for 48 out of the 112 seats required to retain a simple majority on the floor of the Dewan Rakyat.

Despite some success in stabilising the political landscape and populist policy wins during his tenure, Umno cannot safely rely on the Ismail government’s modest performance to return the party to power in GE15.

Saturday’s event represented a missed opportunity for Zahid to project a united Umno capable of introducing real reforms which the country badly needs.

What it did was the exact opposite. The chorus of boos which met the mention of Ismail’s name showed yet again that the party remains hopelessly divided.

To the rest of Malaysia, the atmosphere and events of Saturday were disheartening.

It showed that Umno’s insular-looking leadership has no appetite for issues which are dear to the public at large.

The real changes which the rakyat is looking for involve the eradication of endemic corruption, a theme which carries on from the 2018 polls, as well as relief from pressing economic issues affecting the country and each Malaysian.

So, where is the economic blueprint to contain inflation, attract foreign investment, reinvigorate markets and industries, boost exports, generate employment and eradicate poverty? It was clearly not on show last Saturday.

Neither has Umno brought forward from within its ranks competent leaders who can lead the country out of economic distress.

Apart from that, where is the pledge to return to the Merdeka consensus?

Malaya’s independence 65 years ago was secured by the three major ethnic groups – the Malays, Chinese and Indians – all coming together to form a multiracial government. With the formation of Malaysia in 1963, that consensus was extended to include the diverse ethnic groups which form the populace in Sabah and Sarawak.

With the Malay vote as fragmented as it presently is, Umno must reach out to, and offer to speak up for, all ethnic groups if it wants to return to power. It must offer all Malaysians a true multiracial government with equal opportunity for all.

Umno must surely have realised by now that urban Malays and young voters are increasingly showing a distaste for voting purely along racial and religious lines.

For ordinary Malaysians, the loud noise generated by the party in the aftermath of Najib’s incarceration runs counter to public sentiment.

Ultimately, Umno’s failure to project true Malay and national unity as well as its inability to outline an agenda of real reform in tandem with public expectations may be its undoing. - FMT

Ibrahim M Ahmad is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

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