Kota Kinabalu, SABAH
February 4, 2011
UMNO must sort its own problems, not blame others
by Sakmongkol Ak47
The former UMNO president said the party struggle now was only about contracts, APs and licences. He stressed that the party must return to its roots and help unite a divided Malay community.
“We can unite the Malays if we are willing to work hard and explain that UMNO’s struggle is for religion, race and country,” he told the audience during a talk on “Malay race and the Future” at the Tun Hussein Onn Memorial here.
Finally, it has come out. Dr Mahathir is saying something that I have also been writing about. His voice is, of course, louder and more impactful. Mine is the voice of an interested observer and also a stakeholder in UMNO’s future.
The problem is with UMNO. It’s a party for contracts and APs. In other words, self-interest override everything else. It’s a party that has lost its bearings. It has dislodged itself from the founding principles — to struggle and push the agenda for race, country and religion.
Two, not only it has lost bearings on these founding principles, UMNO hasn’t been successful
in recasting the principles with the new realities. It has to contend with other stakeholders in this country. These stakeholders have become emboldened partly because they dominate the economy (the Chinese) and because of a more assertive leadership as in the case of the Malaysian Indians. UMNO degenerates because it can’t offer competent leadership to contend with these groups.
Three, UMNO has retreated from its role as the principled and steadfast spokesman for Malay interests. In a nutshell, the present UMNO has failed to distinguish itself in a positive way from the rest of the pack. Hence, for example, a small but vociferous pressure group such as PERKASA can rattle UMNO.
Other NGOs have proven to be persuasive enough to steal the thunder from UMNO on a number of issues such as fighting corruption, abuse of power, decadence of its leaders. UMNO hasn’t been nimble enough to seize the initiative in dominating the alternative media. The media companies that it owns have lost credibility not because they churned out untruths, but because they have not been able to win people over to their causes.
Devoid of an appreciation and understanding of its principles, it has spawned a different breed of leadership. On the whole, the leadership is one that’s more interested in harnessing the trappings of power instead of applying that power for the greater good. Hence, there is a continuous mad scramble for positions in UMNO.
But UMNO can’t attribute its shortcomings to others. UMNO’s problems must be sorted out by UMNO people. Dr Mahathir’s recent statements must also be viewed as open criticisms on the leadership of Najib. Lee Kuan Yew’s characterisation of Najib as a rational leader and the attributes that qualify Najib as a rational leader are not exactly placing Najib in a strong position to galvanise the Malay ground. Indeed, it can serve to alienate Najib further as he will be seen, as part of the make-up of the rational leader, to compromise many things of interest to the Malays.
I differ slightly as to the causes of the waning influence of UMNO. Dr Mahathir and many other UMNO leaders are not able any longer to lay claim that UMNO is the absolute and undisputed voice of Malays.
As I have written many times, the wisdom of the many, and in this case the majority of Malays, can’t be wrong. Out of the 5.7 million Malay votes in 2008, UMNO received about two million votes. Its own members were not convinced of the UMNO leadership.
First we put our own house in order. Second, we reach out directly to the majority of people. We cannot wish PKR or PAS to fade away from being our competitors for the Malay ground.
UMNO has to offer credible and competent leadership, sound policies, communicate them and win people over to UMNO’s cause. UMNO has to distinguish itself from these two in more positive ways. — www. sakmongkol.blogspot.com