UMNO must draw the line in the sand and the UMNO General Assembly this week is the last opportunity for UMNO to demonstrate whether it stands for moderation or extremism
The Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak asked the very pertinent question on Sunday at the Federal Territories UMNO Convention on Sunday, “Where have we gone wrong?”, lamenting that whether UMNO had built mosques, set up parent-teacher associations or provided housing, none of these efforts had translated into political support because UMNO leaders hoarded handouts for their own supporters instead of giving it to the community.
Two former Prime Ministers and UMNO Presidents have given different responses to Najib’s question.
In his blog, Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad blamed the “warlord” mentality in UMNO, and urged the UMNO delegates at this week’s UMNO General Assembly to criticize the party leadership on several issues which are “hot” now.
He said previous UMNO Presidents had also been criticized and emerged victorious afterwards, citing as examples Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein.
He said he himself was “attacked and almost lost my position”.
Would UMNO delegates speak up on the various “hot” issues in the country, the most prominent being the multi-billion ringgit 1MDB scandal, the new unfolding and another multi-billion ringgit Pembinaan PFI Sdn Bhd scandal, the old but still very potent multi-billion ringgit PKFZ scandal following the decision of the Port Klang Authority to withdraw its RM720 million suit against turnkey contractor Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd, the rampant corruption in the country with not a single shark or tiger netted in the anti-corruption campaign in the past four decades; deteriorating educational standards under Malaysia’s national education system with even UMNO leaders having no confidence by sending their children to private or international schools, the worsening Gini Co-Efficient in Malaysia reflecting worsening income inequality or the latest Global Terrorism Index 2014 with Malaysia shooting to the Top 50 countries with terrorism problems?
Mahathir is right – there is very little confidence that these real issues would be debated as dominating the UMNO General Assembly will be the racial and religious rhetoric, hysterics and histrionics.
Malaysia’s fifth Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has a different take in his blog today.
He said UMNO should be a party that leads all Malaysians, although it is a party for Malays and Bumiputeras,
He cautioned Umno leaders to not point fingers or offend others in chasing the Malay agenda in this week’s party general assembly.
He finds it “sad and worrying” that “many feel that UMNO supports extremist elements”.
When was the last time that the UMNO General Assembly has any positive news for the other communities? It is “good news” for nation-building if any UMNO General Assembly does not imply negative newss for the other communities.
Is this the way for UMNO, to use Abdullah’s words, to be a party for all Malaysians?
UMNO must draw the line in the sand, and the UMNO General Assembly this week is in fact the last opportunity for UMNO to demonstrate whether it stands for moderation or extremism.
After governing the nation for 57 years, UMNO should be more and more inclusive and less and less exclusive – but the reverse is taking place, becoming even more exclusive and less inclusive than in the past.
The so-called National Unity Convention, which should be more correctly termed National Disunity Convention, where the keynote message by a former Chief Justice is that the Malays are in dire straits and could suffer a fate similar to Red Indians in the United States unless PAS and UMNO unite to allegedly stop DAP from attaining federal power (when DAP had never said or believed that it could attain federal power without being part of a Malay-dominated political coalition) highlights UMNO’s lurch towards greater exclusiveness instead of towards greater inclusiveness.
The “Red Indians” warning is a favourite cry of Dr. Mahathir, even after he stepped down as the Prime Minister of Malaysia for 22 years.
Mahathir asked the same question as Najib on Sunday, as “What went wrong?” was the first chapter of his book “The Malay Dilemma”.which he wrote in 1970.
Will the delegates of the UMNO General Assembly dissect “What went wrong” with the 22-year Mahathir premiership that after his retirement as the longest Prime Minister in Malaysian history, Malays are purportedly facing the risk of becoming Red Indians in the United States?
What would be the response of the first three Prime Ministers to Najib’s question: “Where have we gone wrong”
We can only speculate.
Tunku would probably lament the rise of politics of hate, intolerance and bigotry which has seen the country plunged to its worst racial and religious polarization in the nation’s history.
Razak would probably regret the rampant abuse of power by those in authority and power, who have lost the ability to see the important distinctions among government, party and self, causing a greater disability to grasp what is right and wrong.
Hussein would definitely lament the rampant corruption in high political places. When he was Prime Minister, he insisted on tabling a White Paper in 1979 on the Price Waterhouse Report on the Bank Rakyat scandal, which involved malpractices, mismanagement and misuse of public trust and funds to the tune of RM65 million.
This sum is now chickenfeed, for financial scandals are in the tens of billions of ringgit which do not cause the Prime Minister or Finance Minister (or one who is both) to bat an eyelid!
Hussein would be thorough shocked that there is neither White Paper or ministerial statement on the multi-billion ringgit scandals, whether 1MDB, Pembinaan PFI Sdn. Bhd or the latest in the PKFZ scandals when he had insisted on issuing a White Paper over a RM65 million financial scandal!
“What went wrong?”
What will be Mahathir’s answer in 2014 compared to what he wrote in 1970?