Malaysiakini : "God, do not let this country and the fate of this race (Malays) fall into the hands of traitors and the wicked." - PM Najib Razak, Umno General Assembly 2016
COMMENT | What exactly is Bersatu’s “struggles”? I mean I know that
opposition types are using Dr Mahathir Mohamad, or at least they think
they are using Mahathir, to gain rural Malay votes, but this is a
strategy - not a very good one - but a strategy nonetheless. So what
exactly does Bersatu stand for?
Honestly, if you ask an average Bersatu supporter, he would mimic
exactly what an average Umno supporter would say. If you ask Mahathir
establishment types, you would get a different, nuanced answer which
involves correcting the systemic imbalances when it comes to corruption,
and homages to old alliance politics, which ironically Umno and then
Umno Baru had a hand in destroying.
So, this source - later confirmed by a Bersatu big wig - claims that
the Umno mentality carried over to Bersatu has led to complaints of not
having an easy ride to electoral victory as it was when they were in
Umno. Money, of course, is the factor. These kinds of statements are
embarrassing but more importantly, makes people question why exactly
they are voting for the opposition. They would rather not vote or spoil
their votes than facilitate the rise of power of people with “Umno
And some people are seriously making the claim, that these people
will “Save Malaysia”? Some people are seriously making the claim, that
these people are committed to making changes that would ensure that the
country recovers from its kleptocratic nightmare. Some people are
seriously making the claim, that these people would ensure that our
religious freedoms, constitutionally guaranteed rights and whatever else
we take for granted in our ever increasingly diminishing public
spheres, would be protected?
Kelantan Bersatu chief Kamaruddin Mohd Noor claims that changing this Umno mentality will take some time,
which implies that Bersatu - or at least that the impression they want
to give - is in it for the long haul. But here’s the thing. The
opposition has made it clear that this is the election which would
decide the fate of the country. This is the election which if we do not
change government will spell the end of this country.
So what happens if Bersatu does not win big in this election? Does
anyone really think that these “Umno” mentality types will stick around
and continue the “struggles” of the party? Does anyone really think that
these “Umno” types consider Bersatu a new dawn of Malay politics? Most
probably, what these Umno mentality types will do is rejoin Umno who
would welcome them with open arms, because this is the way in mainstream
Malay politics. You take a shot at the Umno grand poobah, you miss,
make amends and are rehabilitated.
What does this say about the base that these operatives appeal to?
Does the base actually care about the corruption and abuse of executive
privilege this country is facing or does the base merely think that
Bersatu lacking funds cannot be as powerful as Umno?
Now I get that funding is important but surely if you are expecting
an easy ride, it was because it was implied that an easy ride was what
you signed up for when you jumped ship, right? I mean, personality
politics does not put food on the table, and after so long on the gravy
train, Umno mentality types are not expected to go on a handout-free
And of course, there are invisible hands at work. They are Umno
saboteurs in Bersatu because this is exactly the strategy Umno devised
when people were busy jumping ship back after Bersatu was formed. This
is exactly the strategy nearing an election when Umno sleepers choose to
act. Of course, what Umno has to worry about are the Mahathir sleepers
within their ranks, but that is all part of the game.
Claiming that people are dissatisfied because they do not have access
to the funds they had when in Umno but claiming that voicing out these
concerns is the agenda of “hidden hands” merely confirms that the
opposition is made up of a bunch of political opportunists, who have no
real attention of changing the system but instead are hoping to jump
back on the tracks that Umno/BN have been travelling on post-1969.
You know what happens when voters, who do not participate in social
media or are the opposition base, but who read these types of news
items, think? What this does is that it sustains the impression that
Bersatu is a leaking ship filled with undesirables who are either
working secretly for Umno or Umno rejects who just want to replace PM
Najib Razak and get back to the glory days of the old Umno Baru.
It brings me back to this:
“The opposition always says that people are not ‘educated’ and that if
they only knew the ‘truth’, they would understand why we need to change
the government. Perhaps people know the truth and they believe that it
is safer for whatever reason not to vote because it would not make any
difference, especially now that the opposition has joined forces with
the very man they claimed was destroying this country - how many times
has this country been destroyed? - and attempting to engineer a revival
that would see the system not only rejuvenated but also redeemed.
Perhaps some folks do not want to be a part of that.”
To be honest, I underestimated the people who are furious that the
opposition has aligned itself with the former prime minister. I
underestimated the feelings of anger and disgusts of people who thought
that the opposition represented a new dawn in Malaysian politics. I
underestimated the anger of those who quietly sit by and consume the
news in the alternative press and have made up their minds that they
want no part in this election.
Before all this nonsense, people used to accuse PKR of having Umno
DNA. People used to say that the choice is between the lesser of two