Umno, Unshakable And United?
A Kadir Jasin
IT is interesting that when almost all English and bahasa Malaysia weekend newspapers have decided to go “light”, The Sunday Star opted for the defence of Umno.
It highlighted Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak’s assessment of the party. Under the headline “Umno United”, the MCA-controlled paper quoted the Deputy Prime Minister as saying that the party is unshakeable and its members are still united.
Speaking at an Umno function in Baling, Kedah, Najib said this was proven as various attempts to form political parties by disgruntled former Umno leaders had failed.
He said Umno was not just a party, but also a political institution, which could foster the unity of the Malays and Muslims, and serve as the backbone of the Government.
Najib said the Malays were smart enough to evaluate the need to support the current leadership for the sake of party unity.
“It is proven that Umno has flourished under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, where during the previous general election in Kedah alone, Umno and Barisan Nasional had won all the parliamentary seats in the state, making it impossible for PAS to gain a foothold in Kedah,” he added.
He said the Malays had to depend on Umno to survive.
“So it is of utmost importance for the political institution to be protected and the current leadership given undivided support for the party’s survival.”
He also said Abdullah should not be solely blamed for calling off the scenic bridge project in Johor, as the decision was collectively made by the Cabinet.
I have to agree with Najib on some of those historical points he made. I was there on two of those occasions – the 1988 split that gave birth to the now defunct Parti Melayu Semangat 46 and 1998 sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that led to the formation of Parti Keadilan Rakyat Malaysia.
The Malay politics will remain, for along time to come, the tussle between Umno and Pas, as much as the Chinese politics is the seesaw between the MCA and the DAP.
In recent years, we have seen Pas moving closer to the Umno-type agenda and structure. It is aggressively embracing contemporary issues and is moving away from dependency on the traditional ulama-led leadership.
Given this heightening battle between Umno and Pas for the Malay minds and votes, the chances of a third Malay party making an impact are limited.
So Najib’s assessment is largely correct, although somewhat simplistic. For a start, the Malays are today less rooted in politics as they once were and their sense of party loyalty is less stringent.
The question is where do we go from here? By we, I mean, all Malaysians because, whereas, the rivalry is between Umno and Pas, its impact touches all Malaysians.
While the Umno-led Barisan Nasional coalition traces its origin to the 1953 Kuala Lumpur Municipal election, the Oppositions’ Barisan Alternatif (Alternative Front) is yet to find its firm footing. The success of the latter hinges on Pas although Keadilan has been trying to present itself as the catalyst.
The Mingguan Malaysia headline “Scomi dapat secara adil” (Scomi obtains (contracts) in fair manner) should dispel some of the misconceptions created in recent weeks about the company.
The explanation by its President and CEO, Shah Hakim Zain is timely given the various erroneous statements made about the company, including that claim that it did not do business in Malaysia.
According to the Utusan report, the Prime Minister’s son, Kamaruddin Abdullah, owns 17.3 per cent of Scomi’s shares. But Shah Hakim claimed that from the financial aspect, Kamaluddin is only an investor.