Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Umno's Changing Fore-tunes


The will to fight having snapped at the very top following the losses at Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau on April 7, Umno, which has long been overwhelmed by contractors and businessmen, can only hope to retain her dwarfed stature in the Barisan Nasional (BN) via off-party means.

The party is apparently in grave need of NGOs, the para-military Wataniah outfit and state agencies like the Biro Tatanegara (BTN) to fight the battles for the state-enriched Malay elite that’s mostly dissociated from the people.

NGO queen, Marina Mahathir, catching the call by the Umno Youth vice-president, Razali Ibrahim, for members of his wing to join NGOs, asked in her blog whether these chaps are expected to simply declare they are from Umno Youth and then expect to be elected presidents of the voluntary outfits.

The tomcat-call isn’t at all new. Over and over again it was voiced by office-bearers during the recent party divisional meetings. It can’t be such a piece of cake.

But rich contractors and businessmen now stud the starry sky of Umno, many, if not most, winning their way through the ranks via vote-purchase.

These are dissociated from the people. They do not fight politically. They do not know how.

Some said aloud they cannot fight because they are contractors who have now to depend on the largesse of the ruling Opposition in five (or four states) and in one Federal Territory.

It’s this loud song of business distress that’s breaking the morale to bits in Umno, now flung high as confetti after the new president, Najib Tun Razak, slumped to the ground before the unbroken losing streak running from 8 March, 2008 to 7 April, 2009.

He is himself a representative of the traditional and the entrenched elites.

Now unable to face another knock-out in Penanti on May 31, the man is certainly not an Umno and BN leader who can be expected to regain lost grounds. Worse, people are beginning to shun him and soon he may not be anymore listened to.

Purchase and sleight-of-hand is looking like the only ways to regain the loss grounds and loss states, like what happened in Perak which finally converted into a gain of merely five percent of Malay votes on April 7 in Bukit Gantang.

That gain was offset by 10 percent of Chinese votes going the other way, resulting in a bigger-than-ever loss the BN had sustained in that constituency.

The thinking is simple: Because a direct and comprehensive ideological dispute is impossible for Umno to launch against the Pakatan, it will mean we have to be sitting through a political paradigm shift that will make democratic elections a grand market-place with outright purchases, infiltrations and sabotage of NGOs to counter Civil Society.

How will that ever work?

Umno is not anymore the party that was born in 1946 and which was sustained by voluntarism through the murderous Communist Insurgency, the main thrust of which ended in 1960.

But after the fight for freedom and democracy has now become a furious greed and the party is merely a playground for the rich and connected, the questions members ask are about which Malays the party represents and what are the leaders fighting for other than for their own business and financial interests?

The party is fractioned into factions of the New Malay, the indigene Mafiosi, many members without a smear of nationalism in their natures.

The previous party president and Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (now Tun), could have even made Malaysia to become like a vassal of Singapore, himself sometimes described as a “Singapore serf”, a thing unthinkable in Umno until his tenure.

Singapore was made the anchor of Iskandar Malaysia in Johor and was apparently represented in Khazanah Malaysia and in Level Four of the PM’s Department.

Are these psychological warps the results of Umno’s successes?

Are these changes necessary in a party that leads in a successful industrial and trading plural nation of 28 million souls, mixed in a swap of ideological divisions for a Greater China, Greater India, and the bunched Anglophile Compradors which have now taken to Neo-Cons valuelessness by video-visages?

And are Malay contractors and businessmen the answer to the cultural shifts that ought to have been a leap towards modernization and integration in an industrial and digital setting?

Truth is, there’s hardly a Malay critical mass worthy of spawning the much vaunted Bumiputra Commercial and Industrial Community (BCIC) after more than 50 years since Independence or more than 30 years of the New Economic Policy.

The New Malays, dripping excessive Brute deodorants in their cosmetically sweetened spaces of BMWs and Mercedes, are definitely no match for the demonstration-hardened Marhaens, the Muslims of Pas and volunteer activists of the Pakatan demanding change to secure liberty, transparency and accountability.

The government had been run by a dictator in the second half of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership, the man taking power over religion and the judiciary as well.

He slurped power and decided on his own everything the Malays had held dear or distressful, including teaching of Mathematics and Science in English even in rural schools.

It was once rumored he had suggested the confusing anti-Hadith personage, Kassim Ahmad, to become Mufti of Penang. Many think of Kassim as an outright charlatan, either as a Socialist or as a Muslim.

The result is a gaping question that hasn’t been answered to date – Wither Malaysia? There is also the problematic and arousing puzzlement about where the Malays are being led to, like paddy-buffalos.

Najib has answered none of these questions. Has he the answers or will he eventually lead the Malays and the nation into one or another form of vassalage?

In the given circumstances it is the Opposition that’s looking more and more the likely winner in the next general elections. It is merely in need of a thorough cleansing to remove the dregs and the culturally bewildered.

The Pakatan represents the larger segment of the people and Najib’s Umno isn’t looking likely that it shall at all become relevant to the lesser endowed among Malays and Malaysians alike. These form the greater body of producers in Malaysia.

Adios amigo! Ces’t la vie! ---a. ghani ismail, 28 April, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009



Wretched days gloomed the recall of power to the family of Malaysia’s glorious leader, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, whose son, Mohamed Najib, 55, was sworn-in as the country’s new premier on April 3 only to be socked by a double defeat on April 7 when the Barisan Nasional (BN) he now leads lost to Pakatan Rakyat in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau in a fight for grabs.

The spontaneous reaction when the results were announced was ‘It’s over!’ (Habis!).

The third contest in the by-elections did not bother anyone. Batang Ai was a BN seat in Sarawak the ruling coalition retained.

Bukit Gantang (Parliamentary) and Bukit Selambau (State) were fought against Najib’s clever takeover of the Perak government the Pakatan is contesting. Also staked in the fight for the finish was Najib’s One Malaysia concept.

People are now asking what does the One Malaysia actually mean, a critical question that’s sending his ascent to the highest office in the county into a popular frown that can cost him a quick loss of confidence.

Najib walked into his first day of office on April 6. A day later he was shrunk by the acid froth that surfaced from the larger-than-before losses in the two constituencies the BN should have walked away with, hands down.

As he shrunk in size his arch-rival, Anwar Ibrahim, rose into an out-of-proportion giant.

Anwar is now poised to grow into a mighty Godzilla win or lose against the peculiar charge of sodomy he was alleged to have enjoyed in a ride of his aide, Saiful, 21, a day after he returned from umrah (supererogatory pilgrimage) in Mecca.

It suggested he was addicted to forcible homosexual thrust many refuse to believe is possible for a man of 61 with a bad back to boot.

Clearly the dual defeat on April 3 injured Najib worse than before.

In his trail to the top he lugged an out-sized luggage which became heavier after his chosen running-mate, Ali Rastum, was disqualified from contesting for party number two by the Umno Disciplinary Board. Ali was found guilty of political corruption and the country is abuzz until now.

Wagging tongues had since verged on the vitriolic. When he chose Gerakan president, Koh Tsu Khoon and his Wanita Chief, Tan Lian Hoe, into his Cabinet, the Malays became sullen.

The duo was mainly responsible for the punishment meted out on former Umno divisional chief in Penang, Ahmad Ismail, for saying in a communal banter the Chinese were squatters in Malaysia.

When Ahmad was forced out of all his political and NGO positions and then, in fact, was charge for sedition (later withdrawn), the whole 14 divisions of Penang Umno protested against the severe punishment and against the Gerakan duo.

Later former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir, was to refer to the event in a speech wherein he said it would soon be seditious for the Malays to call Malaya Tanah Melayu (Malay Motherland).

It’s ironic, and perhaps negligent, for Najib to make Koh Tsu Khoon in charge of Unity, which ought to entrust the One Malaysia concept to him. And with him in the Cabinet is Tan Lian Hoe a lot of the Malays in Umno had wanted out.

It must also be remembered members of the Movement Against Teaching Mathematics and Science in English who had held a large demonstration in Kuala Lumpur weeks before had campaigned against the BN in Bukit Gantang.

The upshot is obviously bad for Najib. While some are saying let’s wait for the first 100 days of the new premier before judging him, a lot of Malays are saying he is not championing or even representing their cause.

Najib is, they say, only a more efficient version of Pak Lah, the party president they sacked and may now be punished for having done that.

Meanwhile, the MIC has shown its dissatisfaction for being given the junior Human Resource Cabinet post and not either the Works or the Transport Ministry where good fruits are bunched.

It’s certain Najib is in deep waters. What’s happened to the PPP is a question worth examining after it was said 6,000 of the party members in Kedah had joined the PKR before the April 7 by-elections.

It’s looking like Najib may sink before he is actually launched. But what would it take for the Pakatan Rakyat to become an acceptable alternative to the BN? ---a. ghani ismail, 13 April, 2009