A Big Mess


Written on 5/24/2008 12:59:00 am by sikapitan

As expected, the consequences of Mahathir’s resignation dominated the headlines this week.

Mukhriz is caught between a rock and a hard place. He may believe in reforming from within, but there’s always this lingering doubt – would he have stayed if he wasn’t in a strong position to be Ketua Pemuda? But to his defence, it could be said if he did win the post, then he has a stronger mandate to lead for a change.

But what changes are we talking about here?

There are two issues that need to be addressed in UMNO. None has a stronger claim than the other.

There is the need to regain the trust of UMNO members. The grassroots within UMNO has a lot to say about Pak Lah’s leadership style. The lack of conviction and direction in implementing policies remains a problem. But more importantly, there’s this perception that Pak Lah is constantly reacting rather than initiating, defending rather than attacking.

This would be addressed by the proposed change in leadership.

But there is this other, equally important, issue of regaining the trust of Malaysians. No matter who leads UMNO, that person must realize that the game has changed. Some say the issue can never go away as long as UMNO remains a Malay party.

I disagree. Although that plays an important part in swinging the non-Malay votes, the arrogance of UMNO in its actions must rank as the actual catalyst. The sharp rise in debates on N.E.P and Malay rights came as a consequence of UMNO’s own delusional view that it could appeal to both the hardcore Malays and also the non-Malays. UMNO has always and must remain moderate in its views.

Furthermore, the rejection of a portion of the Malays can be directly attributed to the WAY UMNO has actually carried the torch for the Malays. It’s one thing to say you’re acting on behalf of Malays; it’s another to actually carry that out as equitable as possible. Not all Malays get it as easy as some non-Malays think they do. The rise of the UMNOPuteras should be addressed immediately.

Are these two issues exclusive? Could UMNO actually appeal to both its grassroots and Malaysians?

One goal can co-exist with another. The actual process of leadership change should be viewed as the perfect opportunity for UMNO to refresh itself, infuse itself with new blood. The choice of the next leaders of UMNO must not be viewed by the members simply as another change for UMNO, but also a change for all Malaysians. Strong, competent, compassionate, intelligent and morally righteous leaders of UMNO benefits all Malaysians regardless of race.

The upcoming branch meetings, culminating in the party elections at the end of the year, are interesting for UMNO. If the grassroots could lay the seed of change from even the branch level, all the way to the top, then there is that hope that most of the problems that exist within UMNO now would eventually be weed out.

At the end of the day, the people must always believe that anything is possible. It is difficult, of course, to think of UMNO as anything but a corrupt, racist party. And nothing UMNO has done thus far can change this mindset. The image of UMNO is tainted. But what is UMNO if not a collection of individuals?

Unlike the entrenched theory of relativity, UMNO (the image, the association) can change if there is a collective effort to see changes in the people within UMNO itself. The only problem is – do the members realize that this is the time for them to choose how they want UMNO to be? The choice is not only at the top, but at the roots of the tall, strong, tree known as UMNO.

Further reference:

Mukhriz the MP of the week for Malaysiakini
Barisan’s alleged (huh) mismanagement of RM27 million in Selangor
Mahathir accused of disloyalty by fellow “disloyal” troupe – ironic isn't it? - Mahathir
Even the Opposition believes it's a possibility

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