View Full Version : Can UMNO change for the better?
22nd October 2008, 02:42 PM
Can Umno change for the better?
22 Oct 08 : 9.00AM
By Wong Chin Huat
Najib Razak (Public domain)DATUK Seri Najib Razak said it most aptly: the Barisan Nasional (BN) has to change, or it will be changed. Every component party in the coalition knows it only too well. Except for one.
Umno does not need to overhaul its election machinery, media apparatus or selection of candidates. The target of reform should be the system itself — the electoral one-party state that Umno started building since 1955, and overhauled once after 1969.
The political system stands on two bases: authoritarianism and ethnic politics. In the past, these have reinforced each other: ethnic politics has been used to rationalise authoritarianism. Authoritarianism in turn forces Malaysians of all ethnicities and faiths to participate in the oligarchic game of ethnic power-sharing. Ethno-hegemony has almost been synonymous with political stability.
23rd October 2008, 10:31 AM
All about the money... who in the right mind will change for the better and give up sole control of a money making machine?
No one will...so why change... leopard can never change it's spots therefore Umno can never change it's ways, it in the roots.
28th October 2008, 12:35 PM
Monday, 27 October 2008
Malaysia's Sclerotic Political Reality
Written by Kim Quek
The United Malays National Organisation is said to be suffering from
Former Malaysia Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam shrewdly diagnosed
the multiple diseases afflicting the ailing United Malays National
Organisation, the country’s biggest political party and the leader of
the ruling national coalition, when he talked to the press after
launching a forum on Oct 22.
Musa said the party is "too introverted", its leaders preoccupied with
self-interest and oblivious to the interests of the masses, and
incapable of rectifying fundamental flaws such as corruption, poor
accountability and abuse of power. As a result, the party has lost
Musa politely described this phenomenon as penyakit tua (old age
sickness), but I think it will be more appropriate to call it
Alzheimer's disease, as the state of corruption of the party has
already reached a stage of no return.
Just flip the daily papers, and one reads stories of money politics in
the run up to the party election galore. One senior UMNO minister was
so exasperated by this rampant practice that he sarcastically
suggested that party might as well auction its leadership positions by
tenders. And the chairman of the party’s disciplinary committee Tengku
Ahmad Rithaudeen, who often admonishes party leaders against money
politics, recently expressed shame over the hopeless state of
corruption in party elections, as even informers on such corruption
could reap bumper rewards from the corruptors, thus depriving the
committee’s access to incriminating evidence.
In fact, election corruption in UMNO has been so ingrained – it has
been practiced for more than two decades according to Rithaudeen –
that a search in Google would show that “money politics” has become
synonymous with UMNO.
When money and politics become so negatively intertwined, party
leadership inevitably falls into the clutches of wealth-seekers and
wealth-dispensers. This explains why UMNO lacks political idealism,
and its leaders mired in mediocrity.
Abhorrent as such money politics may appear, it is however only the
tip of the iceberg and symptomatic of a larger scourge that is
destined to put UMNO to eventual oblivion.
Started as a nationalist party in the 1940s to unite Malays in their
political struggles for independence, UMNO has seen prouder days as
true nationalists when it worked shoulder to shoulder with other
race-based parties to build the young nation. However, the watershed
event of the May 13 racial riot in 1969 changed the course of history.
Thenceforth, UMNO assumed absolute political dominance. As the famous
saying goes "absolute power corrupts absolutely," corruption began to
spread rapidly in the UMNO-dominated government in the 1970s. However,
it was during Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's two-decade rule that
the art of corruption was perfected and institutionalized and lifted
to the high level that we are all familiar with today.
Mahathir was able to do all this, unscathed by law, because he had
amassed vast dictatorial powers through numerous amendments to the
Constitution and legislation of repressive laws. With such power, and
with electoral victory guaranteed by playing racial politics, he
subdued political dissent and subjugated institutions of state to
serve party and personal interests.
Through sweeping privatization of state assets and through a policy of
public procurement by private negotiation, party leaders and cronies
were enriched beyond their dreams through political favoritism under
the all-embracing façade of the affirmative New Economic Policy,
giving rise to overnight millionaires and even billionaires in the
process, aggravating income disparity within Malay society.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the entire hierarchy of UMNO was
financially sustained through this largesse system. Remove the system,
UMNO would have crumbled overnight. In short, Mahathir’s iron grip and
race-backed rule was sustained through repression and corruption.
Then what about Abdullah Badawi's reign? He won an unprecedented
electoral victory by promising to undo the evils of the Mahathir era,
but he also suffered the greatest electoral set back four years later
for failing to fulfill any of that promise. Now he is on the verge of
handing over power to his deputy Najib Tun Razak, while promising to
carry out a few reforms before he leaves the scene as his legacy to
the nation. These reforms are aimed at improving the independence of
the judiciary and the effectiveness of the anti-corruption and other
law enforcing bodies.
But will UMNO allow him to do that? Highly unlikely. Pak Lah, as
Badawi is called, himself knew as much, as revealed in his
uncharacteristic outburst against clamours for him to make another
shift forward of his retirement date, this time from March 2009 to
December this year (the earlier shifts were from June 2010 to June
2009, and again from June to March 2000). Speaking to reporters in
Kota Kinabalu on Oct 19, he angrily rebuked Minister of International
Trade and Industry Muhyiddin Yassin, who had been at the forefront
agitating for Badawi’s premature retirement and had just suggested the
party poll be brought forward from Mar 2009 to December 2008, and
"Is he (Muhyiddin) afraid of reforms? He doesn’t want to see reforms?
Why must he frustrate reforms which have been yearned for by the
people? The people have been angry with me for not honouring my reform
pledges in 2004 when they gave me strong electoral support. ...Why
must he make the suggestion now (to shift the party poll forward)?
This means my reform efforts will be thwarted. But I will not step
down until the reforms are carried out."
It looks like Pak Lah is fighting a lonely battle, as there is no
political will among UMNO leaders to change the status quo.
One must realize that from UMNO's perspective, it is perfect logic for
the leaders to resist any reform that would make the judiciary more
independent and law enforcement bodies more effective. For who would
protect the corrupt and the abuser of authorities, when judges and
policemen become no-nonsense enforcers of the Constitution and the
law? And without the complicity of these institutions, how could UMNO
maintain its repressive and corrupt rule? The plain truth is that UMNO
cannot possibly survive politically on a level playing field against
its opponent in a democratic environment where rule of law is upheld.
Musa Hitam is of course right when he said that UMNO is trapped in the
mindset of 20 or 40 years ago, when religious and racial issues
reigned supreme in an UMNO politician's agenda. But time has changed,
so have the people, including the Malays who had been the bedrock of
UMNO's electoral support. The younger generation of Malays does not
view UMNO with the same perspective as their parents. UMNO must prove
it is capable of leading the country decidedly forward in this global
environment before they would give their electoral support.
Exploitation of racial and religious issues is no longer a safe
political trump card. With this trump card in question, and with no
capacity to reform and evolve with the march of time, where can UMNO
head to except political oblivion?
At this time of global financial meltdown not seen since the Great
Depression of 1929, the nation is of course anxious how Malaysia can
get through this storm without getting too badly battered. Is our
political leadership up to the task of leading the nation safely
through this rough sea? Are our institutions sufficiently competent to
meet the anticipated challenge? Do our people have the skills and
resilience to rise to the occasion?
Looking at how the Barisan Nasional coalition has been completely
embroiled in intra-party and inter-party struggles for power and
political survival of its own with scant attention to the external
world, and its reluctance to cast off the race-inspired protectionism
which is the main impediment to economic re-invigoration, the prospect
ahead is bleak.
28th October 2008, 01:27 PM
New Straits Times
28 Oct 2008
It's all talk and no serious action
By : Syed Nadzri
MONEY politics in Umno is becoming like the weather to Mark Twain.
Just switch the keyword in the author's famous quote, "Everyone talks
about the weather but nobody does anything about it" and you get a
very familiar ring to the contemporary concerns of Malaysian politics.
Everyone in Umno is talking about money politics. They say it is
darned serious. Period.
Before anyone gets too defensive and jumps at the above observation,
let me also add that there seems to be an utter lack of seriousness in
the way the party is dealing with the problem, as seen from last
week's "reprieve" given to two divisional grassroots leaders who were
found guilty of money politics.
I repeat: found GUILTY of money politics. And what did they get? They
were let off with a warning. What a signal this was to the rest of the
The duo were among the many who were merely given a caution by the
Umno disciplinary board on Thursday for various charges ranging from
money politics to sabotage and abuse of power.
What else can you say? The impression we get from the money politics
part is that there is no semblance of reconciliation whatsoever
between what the party should do and what it is willing to do.
One of the much-talked about cases now for instance is about some
branch heads, especially in Kelantan, driving around in new Perodua
Kancil they had received as gifts during the campaign period. Is
anyone doing anything about it?
That, I suppose, is just one of the many, many episodes of crafty
vote-buying you find now. Some are disguised as festival gatherings or
this and that in the name of charity.
A meeting held at a supreme council member's house last Saturday, for
example, was so well-attended and crowded with hopefuls and delegates
that it was described as paip pecah. Loosely translated, it means "a
gush" (perhaps of offerings being thrown around). Again, it led to
talk of money politics.
Money politics in Umno, as everyone knows, took on a new dimension in
the watershed party elections of 1993 -- spearheaded by certain
personalities, one of whom ironically now talks endlessly of reform.
The main players were never brought to book and that practice has
never looked back since.
Of course, the main drawback -- and a big consolation to party
officials justifying their inability to act -- is the lack of proof.
Vice-president contender Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim mentioned this last
Tuesday after revealing that he had been approached by agents to pay
for votes. He also said a "clutch of corporate figures and
businessmen" in Umno had caused money politics to be more widespread.
Now, who could they be?
But the foreign minister is not lodging a formal complaint because he
said establishing proof would be difficult. Now Datuk Seri, that
exactly is where the whole problem lies, where things get bogged down.
As was the case not too long ago when a few party members under probe
went so far as to question the legality of the disciplinary board's
investigations and process. The motive may not be as much as ensuring
justice is well served as putting a damper on enforcement.
The findings and verdicts of the Umno disciplinary board have not all
been popular. But who could blame them when they have to act within
certain limitations and when pinning down the right evidence is almost
In the final analysis, Umno has to decide what it wants because the
campaign against money politics is actually quite a straightforward
thing, revolving quite simply on whether one is guilty or not.
If not guilty, well and good. If guilty, Umno has to show it means
business. Punish. Call the Anti-Corruption Agency. Prosecute in court.
Whatever. But there has to be a strong will.
Many in the party are getting cynical about the whole issue. But then
who's to blame?
When Rais suggested last week that perhaps positions in Umno should
now be tendered in view of the money flying around, everyone knows
what he was getting at. And sadly, he was not the first to use the
Former deputy president Tun Ghafar Baba once even provided the
quotations, saying tenders for division chief could start at a reserve
price of RM50,000.
Of course, Umno could choose to just laugh it off and dismiss these
But whichever way we look at it, money politics in the party has truly
lived up to the old Malay expression of Orang berbudi kita berbahasa,
orang memberi kita merasa. It is about reciprocity. But it can also
mean "you reap what you sow".
29th October 2008, 04:38 PM
UMNO has changed from the days of Tunku Abdul Rahman when UMNO, MIC and MCA were equal partners. Money politics were unheard of. Everyone then had the best of intentions to make the country a home for all Malaysians. Unlike now. The East Malaysian MPs are speaking up..MCA is speaking up..all too late.
29th October 2008, 05:02 PM
Don't delude yourself. The British chose UMNO to be their proxy. They gave them control over the Army, the Police, the Immigration, the Registration Dept and the SPR. That is where the real power lies.
The rest are merely window dressing although they "appear" to be equal in economic and business affairs. Look at what happened to Lim Chong Eu, when he as MCA President, tried to challenge the Tunku for more seats for the MCA. He was sent packing shortly after that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lim_Chong_Eu
The Tunku may appear like a gentleman but when push comes to shove on matters concerning his hold on power, he was not above using the powers he wielded to suppress his opponents. On other matters, he was generally seen as fair.
It is important that we study history carefully to avoid being misled. Check out Part V of the Rat Race. There is quite a bit of information there.
29th October 2008, 05:08 PM
can they change for the better?Nope cos they see themselves as not doing anything wrong. and they seem to think this last GE is a once off thing. But more importantly the leaders there only think of their self interest.
29th October 2008, 05:24 PM
Understand their thinking. They think they own this country. They inherited it from the British. They genuinely believe the Chinese are penumpang and their biggest threat to their continued hold on power.
To them, esoteric stuff like human rights, justice, transparency, etc are for the birds. What matters is power and the money that goes with it.
Once you understand their thinking, their actions make sense.
29th October 2008, 05:35 PM
This lady is always full of spin - "The party grassroots are really exerting their will and compelling those holding office to listen to what and who they want," The Star political journalist Joceline Tan wrote over the weekend.
How can her statement be reconciled with the widespread allegations of corruption in UMNO elections, euphemistically known as money politics?
30th October 2008, 02:35 PM
UMNO is still flogging the dead horses of race and religion. Let's see how far it gets them.
In Part IV of the Rat Race - The Pyramid, in describing the group at the apex of the Pyramid ruling a country, we touched on oligarchy, feudalism and democracy.
(The Rat Race Part IV - The Pyramid: http://www.usj.com.my/bulletin/upload/showthread.php?t=22660)
In Malaysia, we have oligarchy and feudalism hiding behind the charade of democracy.
LETTERS: 'Menang sorak, kampung tergadai' - that's Umno
Hamdan Ibrahim | Oct 29, 08 4:54pm
Umno's internal polls are more interesting to watch rather than general
elections as the movers and shakers of the party will determine who will be
our prime minister rather than voters of this country.
While Pak Lah is on the way out, Najib Abdul Razak and Muhiyiddin Yassin are
on their way up to become the president and deputy president cum prime
minister and deputy premier designates respectively due to Umno divisions
giving them huge leads in the run-up nominations against their rivals.
As usual, money politics will make its way in the coming party polls and
those with wads of cash will somehow manage to bribe delegates to vote for
them and thus be elected leaders in the party as well as government.
Sometimes one wonders how can morally bankrupts leaders lead our country to
new heights if their hands are dirty?
Khairy Jamaluddin, who was a rising stars of the party, has lost his shine
as he seems to be trailing against his arch rival, Mukhriz Mahathir who has
leapt ahead with more nominations for the Umno Youth chief post.
The battle between an ex-prime minister's son and the son-in-law of the
present prime minister will be interesting to watch. The third contender,
Khir Toyo, the former chief minister of Selangor, is only a spoiler as he is
a 'has been' in the party.
If we look into the past elections for the Umno youth chief, only the sons
of iconic fathers of the party managed to stay long to eventually become
president of Umno and prime minister of this country.
Hussein Onn was the first Umno Youth chief who eventually become premier of
this country and if history is any, Najib, a former youth chief, will follow
this trend of becoming president of the party as well as our next prime
Other former youth leaders who didn't have a famous last name and are not
from aristocratic families saw their political futures fade into the
wilderness due personal problems or because of them not getting along well
with the president of the party.
Musa Hitam, a former stalwart of the party, says that Umno has become too
introverted and focusses mainly on party issues. He wishes the party to be
lead by younger leaders.
Rais Yatim, in tongue in cheek remarks, lamented that money politics will
destroy the party and proposed that top posts of the party should be
tendered out to the highest bidders.
The oldest party in this country has seen their Malay support dwindling with
the last polls but they still do not want to reform for the better. Menang
sorak, kampung tergadai, a well-known Malay proverb, best describes the
state of the party right now.
While Umno leaders are scrambling for party posts, one wonder if the party
and their BN partners can survive the next general election or anything
earlier if public perception is that BN is full of leaders who are corrupt
and morally unfit to lead our nation.
'Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
All the King's horses and all the King's men,
Could not get Humpty Dumpty up again'
This scenario best describes Umno right now who are on their last leg due to
infighting among themselves as the old and tainted leaders do not want to
make way for new bloods who have better methods to win the hearts and minds
of the younger voters who will make their presence felt in the next polls.
The poor public, however, does not have a say in electing leaders of this
country. Only in this country are prime ministers elected by less than 2,000
delegates who will determine our country's future.
Don't tell me that besides Najib, the oldest party in this country is bereft
of other good leaders who can give him a run for his money in fighting for
the president post?
Only Ku Li is man enough to seek nominations for the top post but it will be
a futile attempt as he still hasn't received even one nomination for the
Umno is a sick party who still thinks that people - especially the Malays -
will support them in their time of weakness. The last election showed that
race and religion are non-issues among the enlightened voters in this
Having Malays voting for Chinese and Indian candidates and vice versa spoke
volumes of our maturing electorate who are now race and colour-blind and
only vote for the best candidate to be their elected representatives in the
Elected representatives should fight for all citizens in this country
regardless of their origin. We would be a better nation indeed if race and
religions are put on the backburner and the economic pie of the nation is
evenly distributed among all rather than just the ruling elite.
Elected politicians should make the chairs rather than the chairs maketh
them. If they want the public to respect them and re-elect them in the next
polls, their conduct in office should not be marred by abuse of power for
But as long as the present government with their old way of thinking is
still around, it would only be a pipe dream to see our government reform for
the better. After all, leopards never change spots. Or do they?
30th October 2008, 07:26 PM
Aiyoh... I am surprised you still read Joceline Tan. I find this lady is the No. 1 spinner for the ruling party.
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