Thursday, March 26, 2009




Can He Avoid A Purge In Umno?

REALITY IN UMNO crashed like a head-on collision of bullet trains on Wednesday, 25 March 2008. The outgoing premier’s son-in-law, the notorious Khairy Jamaluddin, was announced the winner in the contest for the coveted Umno Youth chief against all odds.

It was just about 24 hours after Najib Tun Razak delivered his Umno-reform speech to the party’s wings, promising a clean-up and an acceptable team for his cabinet when he does become PM on April 2.

Khairy, who was declared by the party’s disciplinary committee guilty of political corruption was somehow not disqualified from contesting in the party’s elections.

Others were, including a contestant for the party’s deputy president.

Initial reactions were of deep dismay. The turn of events which was not altogether unexpected, was widely described as “disastrous,” the impact stupefying after Umno and the BN’s colossal losses on 8 March, 2008, and the bad streak in by-elections that followed.

The victory was indigestible, the stomach pain it caused trailing into certain conclusion that Umno has become corrupt at the core and will lose at the 13th general elections unless the toxic waste is quickly removed.

Diehard members in the party wishing to keep spirits from collapsing suggested Khairy may be made to prove his innocence in court.

But the contest for power hasn’t ended and should Muhammad Muhammad Taib win position number two today, many opined little would be left in the new leadership line-up to stage a credible moral conflict for Najib to regain any trust and stage a purge.

It isn’t Umno alone that’s facing a moral crisis. Malay elected representatives in the Party Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) have promptly proven themselves morally lacking as well, two unable to resist the dubious succulence of cheap China Dolls and another duo in Penang allegedly caught with their hands deep in the cookie-jar.

Those in Pas aside, the Malays, especially in Umno, have had to pay rather of a high price for rushing for big cash through the swift transition from the agrarian to the commercial and industrial society without the briefest ideological effect under Dr. Mahathir.

As a result, a large chunk of the urban and new-urban Malays were becoming overwhelmingly materialistic, currently described by the intelligentsia as “self- interested” for simplicity.

In other words, in his enchantment with pragmatism, Dr. Mahathir failed to administer the correct medicine for the people he pooled into his string of corporate housings and industrial parks to provide for his brand of the new society.

Najib’s father, the architect of the New Economic Policy (NEP) was different. Tun Razak was a Labor Party member in England.

As premier, basing his model of development on the ideals and strategy of Labor, he purposed a clear ideological direction and set of priorities which he secured in the NEP, plus his Red and Green Books.

The transition involved millions of Malays in the rural-urban drift.

In the social and cultural shifts, to function in a modern and plural society the Malays would have required something clearer and more concrete than the archaic content of the Malay-Islamic corpus that had become more of rites-of-passage rather than anything we may construe as a living ideology.

This is now the Malay Dilemma – to purpose an intelligible, coherent and comprehensive ideological display of the processes of change, modernization, development and integration, albeit dressed in Islamic garb, or to continue refuting the need of an ideology and trust in the charisma of the leader who addresses the future as a pragmatic accident of fortunes, and of fate – his own.

Hence, Najib must first resolve this dilemma with a certain sense of purpose and a strong will.

People ask endlessly, can he do it? Or can’t he?

The answer is simple – he must. Or it is indeed the end of Umno. It is do or die. --- a. ghani ismail, 26 March 2008

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