Malaysiakini : 'Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to
be paid for. Don’t imagine that for years on end you can make yourself
the boot-licking propagandist of the Soviet régime, or any other régime,
and then suddenly return to mental decency. Once a whore, always a whore.' - George Orwell, ‘As I Please: 1943-1945 Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters’
COMMENT | Even as I write this, there will probably be more news of Umno members jumping ship. A
few well-connected businesspersons of Umno political operatives have
been calling me, “advising” me that their benefactors are going to jump
ship and they are now part of a new dawn of Malaysian politics. And
please, do not get triggered by the term “well-connected
businesspersons”. All political parties have these people.
I have lost track of how many Umno rats are leaving the sinking ship. Readers of Malaysiakini have been sending me this bit (with smiley faces) from a piece I wrote in January of this year, about how Umno is afraid that Mahathir is still reshaping Umno. “What
is Bersatu if not a reception room for possible Umno candidates who
would jump ship if they thought that a weakened Umno would implode or
that the current Umno grand poobah would bring the house of cards down
which would jeopardise their economic security with his fancy new
executive powers if Umno suffered electoral setbacks in the upcoming
This the game we are committed to play. If you voted
for Pakatan Harapan, you must have known this would happen. And if you
did not know this would happen, then you prove what Churchill said that
the best argument against democracy is having a five-minute conversation
with the average voter.
The commentary of this phenomenon has
been fascinating in the sense that some pundits act as if this was not
the inevitable outcome of the moves by mainstream powerbrokers to oust
Najib Abdul Razak. This was never about saving Malaysia but rather about
dethroning a kleptocrat who emerged from the breeding ground of
mainstream Malaysian politics.
When Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng (photo) reminded Terengganu Bersatu chief Razali Idris to remember his “rakan seperjuangan”,
who exactly is he trying to fool? If anything, for most of the people
in Bersatu, their comrades have always been the Umno folk who ruled this
country since independence.
Umno is not merely
about personalities. It is an ecosystem with various organisms which
want to impose hegemony for collective profit. This ecosystem can
operate under any banner. Bersatu was never part of the movement to
reform Malaysia but they were a part of the movement to dethrone Najib.
is right on two counts. The first is that DAP is afraid of a stronger
Malay/Muslim voice in parliament. To be specific, they are afraid of a
stronger far-right Malay/Muslim voice in their coalition. Any rational
person would be. You know who else is worried? PAS is also
worried. At this moment, the Malay/Muslim far-right is dominated by Umno
and PAS. They have managed to not only define the narrative but also
managed to bundle up certain issues (and groups) which have nothing to
do with race or religion – broken Harapan promises, for instance – and
present them as an existential crisis for the Malay community.
us be honest here. There are many Umno people who despise working with
PAS. They see this collaboration with PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang (photo)
as the first step to the Pakistanisation of Malaysia. They view Umno’s
lack of leadership and perceived weakness as only benefitting PAS.
to Bersatu means that they do not have to put up with PAS anymore. They
join a gang which is slowly growing and they do not have to flash their
racial and religious bona fides because when Bersatu becomes the
dominant Malay/Muslim powerbroker in Harapan, their Malay base will be
satisfied that they are not under threat and they do not have to form
allegiances with what is essentially a religious cult.
second is that post-May 9, the political climate and interests have
changed. Just ask former Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein who is
alleged to be the mastermind behind these leaps of faith.
may deny it, but there is enough circumstantial evidence to point to
the fact that the powerbrokers in Umno, the warlords and their various
schemes, understand that Umno is finished. Hishammuddin is merely an
emissary hoping to gain favour and leverage for a post-Mahathir
Some political operatives from Umno tell me
that the recent anti-Icerd rally was a wake-up call for them. Without
strong Malay leadership, the community is open to radicalisation which
is not good for the country in the long run.
Asking these frogs to admit their complicity in 1MDB, as DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang (photo) wants them to do,
is the height of political expediency. Do you think any of these Umno
frogs would have a problem attacking their former comrades or admitting
they were part of the problem?
would have no problem repenting and most probably would make a
religious pilgrimage to wash away their sins. They then would become
instant reformers and all will be copacetic on the good ship Harapan.
Asking for repentance or acknowledging abetting in the 1MDB scandal is
merely a fig leaf for BN redux and the perpetuation of neo-BN policies.
leader Anwar Ibrahim and his moves with Umno’s Nazri Abdul Aziz, for
instance, is also a sign that Umno is going to fold or at least lose its
once powerful position. While some Harapan people have taken offence to
these moves, it is a far healthier stratagem in the short term, though
in the long term, it could prove volatile.
Having a Malay caucus
which supports the government mitigates the effects of power groups
hoping to exploit racial and religious sentiment though it also means compromising on certain issues which, truth be told, is already
happening in Harapan. When it comes to leaping frogs and backroom
deals, I never thought I would say it but Khairy Jamaluddin and Umno
Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki have the right of it. They want some
sort of reformasi in Umno. They are not alone. Many young Umno members
want the same thing. The problem is that the old guard continues to
stymie such calls for reformation.
Read my case for Khairy (photo) here:
“I think what Khairy gets right is that there is a movement within Umno
which understands that the far-right gambit is one of diminishing
returns. As long as Bersatu has DAP and PKR as its wingmen, they control
Does this mean all is lost? Maybe not. DAP
needs to step up its game. It should stop dispensing the Kool-Aid and
act as an equal partner. It should not be in a hurry to abandon its
principles to appease its Malay partners. Even if they are voted down,
they should speak up.
And why do you ask that all this should fall on the DAP? Because they presented themselves as the “New Malaysians”. And when it comes to the frogs, this is the only thing you have to consider - when the Harapan grand poobah says there are "good"
people in Umno, those are the ones who want to reform the party.
may not agree with their ideas of reform or even that Umno could be
reformed, but you are hypocritical when there is Bersatu in Harapan. The
bad ones are taking that leap of faith into Harapan.