November 27, 2014
COMMENT: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has said what should have been said a long a time ago. UMNO must change, not in small doses (as Azmi seems to suggest) but drastically if it is to regain the confidence of Malaysian voters, not just the Malays.
I can say with confidence that none of us question UMNO’s mission to defend the special position of the Malays, Islam as the official religion of our country and our system of constitutional monarchy. These matters are embodied in our constitution. At issue is the means of accomplishing its mission and the quality of its leadership.
In recent years, under Najib as Prime Minister we see that Malayness has been taken to extremes and our country is divided along race and religious lines. It has become Us (Malays) Versus Them (The Pendatangs and Kafirs). The Prime Minister has allowed PERKASA and ISMA to dictate the Malay agenda and run amuck with Islam. It is time for him to show that he is Prime Minister for all Malaysians.
While claiming to be a Moderate, he has allowed extremism to fester, necessitating the tabling of a White Paper on ISIS in our Parliament just a few days ago. Even JAKIM and JAIS have been permitted to persecute those who disagree with them on religious matters.
Patronage politics and endemic corruption continue unabated. Helping the Malays has been used to justify national policies when in reality these policies benefit only cronies and a select few, usually members of the UMNO elite. There is a lot for UMNO to do, if it is to remain relevant.
Now we must hear what our Prime Minister has in mind when he delivers his Amanat Presiden to the UMNO General Assembly. Will he contradict his Deputy Prime Minister who has set a conciliatory tone for UMNO delegates? Embrace Malaysia with its rich diversity and face the challenges of intense globalisation with strong faith in our own people.–Din Merican
Political Will and Drastic Action against Warlordism in UMNO
by Azmi Anshar@www.nst.com.my
Deputy Prime Minister sets the Tone for UMNO GA
UMNO Deputy President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin delivered a humdinger of a speech on Tuesday night that startled critics because of its “confessional” nature — part plea, part reconciliation, part therapeutic and part self-criticism — as he earnestly examined the party’s prowess of rights and litany of wrongs.
He was unapologetic in defending the rights that UMNO has fought and struggled for, notably, the special Malay position, Islam as the official religion and continued constitutional monarchy, blended within Malaysia’s unique form of political stability and socio-economic equality, buttressed by well-meaning, long-standing affirmative action.
He stood aghast at the lagging Bumiputera disparity in property ownership, income and employment, and, despite a 44-year run, the New Economic Policy designed to level the odds for the Bumiputera lot is still sputtering, unable to fly on cruising speed as idealised.
He was also unapologetic in critically judging the wrongs plaguing UMNO, notably the unfavourable perception of the young against the party and its infamously unruly warlordism, whose depravity for power and wealth threatens the party’s cherished values.
Muhyiddin didn’t air his thoughts in a fit of frustration, although frustration was the heft in his lengthy tome: he offered hardened statistics, rock-solid studies and unassailable research on the maladies afflicting Bumiputeras, not just lamenting on their deprivation, but also their unconscionable inability to get out of the rut.
His list of Bumiputera listlessness was jarring: unemployment is highest among ethnic groups, as high as 70.3 per cent; unfair treatment of Malay graduates vying for private sector jobs despite equal qualifications; lowest paid among the races as much as 20 to 40 per cent less; and, comparatively lowest in property ownership.
Muhyiddin’s dirge is inescapably true yet, there is a simple explanation: to wit, a newly-minted director-general of a statutory body dealing in the arts was recently making his familiarity rounds, inspecting his communications unit, whose key task was meeting and dealing with foreign clients.
When a group of Americans came by seeking details of facilities and services, the communications people unfathomably “disappeared”, leaving nobody to assist the visitors.
When the Director-General investigated the fiasco, what he discovered infuriated and saddened him: the communications people “vanished” for no other reason than none were able to speak fluent English, fearful of embarrassing themselves with their malfunctioning grasp of the international language of doing business.
Ironically, when it comes to business trips to English-speaking countries, everyone in communications is able and willing to travel, never mind their linguistic lethargy.
Yes, unfairness, prejudice and preferential treatment is the dirty cost of doing business in the real world, but even then, many firms desperately wish they could recruit the dream Bumiputera candidate — if only he or she could speak and write decent English, a crucial non-negotiable prerequisite.It is an alarming blotch in the whole Bumiputera debacle that education — education in English, to be precise — has jacked up the statistics of the unemployable.
Why this stubborn resistance to learning English? The education system, for one, which has relegated English to a bottomless pit that only urbanites dare to dive into gladly in their ease of accepting Western culture of books, music, TV and movies, something which the “village” Bumiputera are loath to embrace.
It also does not help that certain politicians and activists campaigned ruthlessly against teaching Maths and Science in English while decrying such “yellow culture” in case it “infected” impressionable youngsters. As Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Muhyiddin holds the magic wand to reverse this English proficiency malaise. He knows what needs to be done.
In reaffirming the spectre of UMNO warlordism, Muhyiddin needs committed help to defang the warlords who, while enriching themselves silly, are also subconsciously killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
UMNO could start small: impose term limits in party elections and in key government posts, just to neutralise the warlords’ dominance while protecting their “dynastic heirlooms”, to be succeeded by only by their kin or crony.
True, it will take a gutsy manoeuvre to outwit these warlords, especially the entrenched ones, but there is a working precedent: the government’s direct 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) to youngsters, circumventing these warlords effectively, denying them power, control and commissions.
The warlords will undoubtedly retaliate with threats and thuggery but that’s chicken feed compared with the long-term damage to the party, if not the nation.
Muhyiddin is right about young prospects not being wrong in perceiving UMNO’s hierarchical peculiarities, having laid out the problem head-on.
All that needs coaxing is for strong political will to adopt the adage that UMNO has to be ruthless in order to be kind in defeating all that is bad in the party. It could be that simple but the reality is something else.