No evidence that Umno is still strong - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Friday, December 08, 2017
Malaysiakini : “Some creatures are weak, but they
survive because they're being protected by the strong for one reason or
another. You may think that, because of the circles you move in or
whatever, that you're one of the strong creatures, but you're not,
you're one of the weak ones. That's nothing against you, you're just
weak because you're young. But you've survived because you've been
protected by the strong. But they're not strong anymore, and they're
certainly not able to protect you.” – Animal Kingdom (Australian crime drama)
COMMENT | "Do not take lightly
the challenges posed by that Umno splinter party. Though we are certain
Umno is stronger and greater, do not forget that this 'flower' party
will dip our supporters. So let there be more no more cracks and
fissures in Umno. The more fractured we are, the more supporters we will
lose to them (PPBM)," sagely intones Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin in the ongoing Umno general assembly.
The problem is that Umno is not “stronger or greater” than how it was
during the Mahathir era. This is why it has to make uncomfortable
alliances with its sworn enemy PAS. This is why new laws such as the
National Security Council Act has to be introduced. This is why outsourced thugs like the red shirts have to roam the
political landscape threatening and intimidating all and sundry,
especially Malay opposition figures. This is why the royalty has to make
overt political statements condemning Malay oppositional figures and
reminding them not to destroy the Malay community or burn the country.
This is why millions of ringgit have to be pumped into the electorate
and electoral delineation exercise have to be carried out. This is why
Sabah and Sarawak have to be threatened with severe punishments if they
step out of line. This is why the Chinese community has to be vilified
and condemned as harbingers of doom to Malay institutions like the royal
houses and the sanctity of Islam. If a political party were strong, they would not have to resort to such measures.
My first two columns or thereabouts for Malaysiakini was
about the fracturing of the Malay community. It was a response to
Khairy’s badgering of the DAP on the actual numbers of Malays joining
the political party and generally about the race politics of this
country. Khairy has at one time or another attempted to redefine the
concept of “Ketuanan Melayu” to “Kepimipinan Melayu” but the reality is
that you cannot rationally redefine a racist concept into something
logical and benign.
As I have argued before,
“The concept of Malay has changed so dramatically over the years
through the social engineering agenda of Umno, these days it would be
easier for the divergent forms of political and religious ideologies
which manifest in the Malay community to further fracture the concept of
‘Ketuanan Melayu' and in the end, the Umno choke hold.” Umno began its slow descent when charismatic political prisoner Anwar
Ibrahim redefined the political landscape after he was ejected from
Umno paradise, but more importantly, when the opposition realised that
regime change was a group effort that involved the sublimation of
political egos and good-faith compromises.
While the current Umno grand poohbah can dream that Umno will survive
1,000 years, the reality is that Umno people are wondering if it can
survive the next election. Prime Minister Najib Razak’s fear that the
Malays will be “bangsat” in their own land is a self-fulfilling prophecy
of his own making. The reason why the Malay polity is fractured is
because for decades, Umno ignored the simmering class tensions within
the Malay community.
No, that is incorrect. For decades, Umno exploited the simmering
class tensions within the Malay community. This idea that the Malays
will lose power is slowly wearing thin because if anything, the Malays
already realise that they are becoming foreigners in their own lands.
While rural Malay enclaves are for the moment safe from foreigners, the
high cost of living, social problems and the numerous other
institutional failures that urban polities can withstand, are slowly but
surely agitating the rural Malay underclass.
It is pointless pushing the “Malay” rights line because it is an idea
of diminishing returns, much like the antics of the red shirts - “It is
also important to note that these red shirts are the dying embers
caught up in a fast-changing geopolitical struggle that will ultimately
undermine whatever notions of ‘ketuanan Melayu’ privilege they think is
owed. The corrupt regime that they choose to defend, that colony of
thieves and plunderers will soon pay homage to a regional power, or
maybe regional powers, whose influence will change the Malay community
in ways that one could never fathom.” I have no idea how on one hand, you can claim that your political party is not “anti-Chinese”
and on the other, claim that the Malays will lose their privileges and
institutions if the “Chinese” dominated DAP comes into power with its
Malay proxies. It is this kind of delusions that has fractured the Malay
community and weakened Umno.
Realpolitik demands that the expectations of the various communities
here in Malaysia be addressed in a way that ensures some sort of
equilibrium. However, because Umno is in a weakened state, the desire to
maintain hegemony in a fractured polity means that you have to say and
do things, or you think you have to say and do things, which could burn
this country down. When people realise that being Malay does not necessarily mean you
have a better life, and that being in Umno means you are entitled to
ride on the gravy train, people will naturally get angry and disruptive.
This is why Umno demonises everyone from politicians to jazz queens
for pointing out that the system is failing the average citizens of this
country. It is pointless attacking the messengers because ultimately
the messengers are not the ones the ordinary rakyat will blame when they
can’t buy food, or lose out on jobs and realise that their way of life
is in danger because of debts they had nothing to do with.
The irony is that what made Umno strong in the past - religion, race
and certainly, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad - is what is
making Umno weak now.