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Help! Umno think tank is empty

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Umno has turned the practice of recycling discredited and disgraced politicians into an art form. In the process, it has displayed total disregard for the multiple problems facing society, observes Tota.

Photograph: theSun Daily

Not that Umno’s think tank has ever been full. There is plenty of evidence that it was not even half full at the best of times. After the Umno general assembly last year, it is really evident how depleted their so-called think tank is. The low and sometimes gutter-level discussions and debates are evidence of the grave poverty of intelligence and rationality within the ranks of Umno from top to bottom.

In other countries, people recycle garbage but Umno recycles political garbage. Look at the way Umno recycles defeated, discarded, disgraced, discredited retards. While doing this shamelessly, the leaders keep fooling the Malay rakyat that they want young leaders to revitalise the party. Just look at the Umno ministers in the Cabinet. They comprise not only of balding old folks but the defeated and the rejected not only in the party elections but also in the general elections, resulting in poor governance and consequent policy and performance paralysis.

The Auditor-General’s Report points out the inefficiency of the ministries and is a severe indictment of the Umno-dominated government. Nine Ministries had exceeded their budget allocations and the attendant corruption is horrendous. No wonder a regular feature writer for the Star suggested that Najib should sack 80 per cent of his Cabinet. He was kind enough not to suggest that Najib should sack himself first, in keeping with the government’s slogan of “leadership by example”.

Let us look at the rejects and retards in the Cabinet and government agencies:

  1. Najib, apart from his alleged involvement in the Altantuya murder case, carries much baggage. It was during his watch as Defence Minister that the Scorpene submarine corruption scandal, which is being heard in French courts, took place. Also, the theft of jet engines took place.
  2. Muhyiddin, reportedly the richest man in Umno, was removed as MB of Johor, and parachuted into the Cabinet for good reasons.
  3. Tengku Adnan, implicated seriously in the Lingamgate scandal, is in the Cabinet.
  4. Ali Rustam, found guilty of money politics in Umno, continues as CM of Malacca.
  5. What Nazri said about the “Allah” issue, Bersih 2.0 and why Cabinet ministers cannot declare their income and assets in a public register reveals a short-circuited brain. His statement that Malaysia cannot afford the luxury of the separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary reveals his undemocratic character, yet he continues to be Law Minister.
  6. Keris-kisser Hishammuddin did tremendous damage to inter-ethnic relations and was a contributory factor in the 2008 political tsunami. If he was not Najib’s cousin, he would not be Home Minister.
  7. Ghani Othman, MB Johor, was implicated in the Gold Coin Scandal. As superior leader of a “superior race”, he continues as MB of Johor.
  8. The Umno general assembly gave Rais Yatim a good kick in its elections but he is in the Cabinet.
  9. The electorate gave Shahrizat a good kick in the general election but she came into the Cabinet through the Senate backdoor.
  10. Mukhriz Mahathir got a good kick at the Umno general assembly elections but now is a Deputy Minister.
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This is a repetition of the Umno practice of recycling the discredited and disgraced. In the last Cabinet, Abdullah Badawi appointed Muhammad Taib, who was caught for currency smuggling, into the Cabinet, and it defied logic. Also, Azalina, despite the corruption in her ministry and the Brickendonbury and CYC mess, continued in the Cabinet.

Umno cronies with severely tainted records were appointed to lucrative posts. Toyo, despite evident widespread corruption, was kept as MB, Selangor. No wonder the Selangor electorate gave BN a kick in the 2008 general elections! Rahim Tamby Chik, alleged to have committed statutory rape of a minor, was appointed Chairman of Risda. Isa Ahmad, found guilty of money politics in Umno, was suspended, but had his suspension lifted, stood in a Negeri Sembilan by-election and became a State Assembly member, has been appointed Chairman of Felda Sdn Bhd. All this is proof that there is a severe dearth of talent in Umno.

When a fish rots, it goes from head downwards. The same can be said of Umno, beginning from Mahathir downwards till now. They have surrounded themselves with totally inept, discredited and discarded characters who have been excellent boot lickers. This explains why the country has gone so rotten in every field of national endeavour – political, economic, educational, social and cultural.

Coming back to last year’s Umno General Assembly, history repeated itself. Najib in his presidential address, shamelessly played the race card. What was important for the apparent miniscule brains of the delegates was frightening the Malays into believing that, unless they support Umno, non-Muslims would take over the country to the ruin of the Malay race and religion! Apparently, stoking the race and religious fire is important to obtain political support.

The so-called Umno leaders said nothing about progressive policies or visionary ideas. Much time was wasted by shamelessly indulging in lies, which, as always, earned rounds of applause. Demonising Anwar, the leader of the Opposition, was greeted with cheers. Then the Christians were demonised for attempting to convert Muslims. Umno Youth proved again that they had nothing to contribute – led by Khairy, whose rubbishy analysis of the six hooligans targeting the Opposition confirmed his lack of IQ and self-analysis. He forgot he was himself behaving like a hooligan outside the American Embassy some time ago. I hope someone will again give it publicity on Youtube so that he can see himself in action!

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What about the other great hooligan who threatened the non-Malays at the Umno general assembly and then ended up kissing the keris?

The Wanita Umno spent their time defending the indefensible – National Feedlot Corps and their leader Shahrizat. After the pretended support for her, her deputy Kamilia asked her to quit as Wanita Chief! As if this was not enough, a delegate at the Assembly claimed that her boobs were bigger than those of Shahrizat’s. Poor Shahrizat. This was the least of her worries.

Umno claims to be the defender of the Malays and their faith but the general assembly showed a total disregard for the multiple problems plaguing the community.

  • Not for them the grand corruption within political and civil service ranks. The Auditor-General’s Report amply revealed this.
  • Not for them the economic problems – the rising cost of living, 40 per cent of households with less than RM1,500 per month, the ever-rising household debt, the rising national debt, the horrendous illicit transfer of capital out of the country.
  • Not for them the low quality of education at all levels resulting in about 100,000 graduates and diploma holders who are unemployed and unemployable.
  • Not for them the many social problems afflicting the Malay (and also the non-Malay) community – HIV/Aids, teenage pregnancies resulting in baby-dumping; the gender inequality and lack of justice for Muslim women divorcees in respect of alimony payments, custodial rights and property division; the increasing divorce rate among Muslims; and the ever-widening income differential within the Malay community.
  • Not for them Malaysia as a centre for drug-smuggling, human trafficking, wild-life and ivory smuggling etc.
  • Not for them the worrying polarisation among Malaysians and the death of national unity.

When the Umno circus ended, all right-thinking Malaysians were left wondering why such a sizeable section of the Malay community continues to support a party that demonstrates a deep lack of intellect and such a spiritual vacancy and emptiness.

After the 1986 Umno general assembly this is what Chandra Muzaffar, then Aliran President, said:

At the assembly, certain Umno elites sought to communalise every issue, including those which have no basis in ethnicity like poverty, corruption and mismanagement. By so doing, they were hoping to strengthen communal solidarity. Communal solidarity, they know, would result in stronger support for the political leadership. To sustain this support, the idea of an external threat has to be conjured and propagated. The Umno elites at the Assembly talked of a threat to the economic well-being and political power of the Malays, arising from Chinese chauvinists, certain political parties, government critics, foreign newspapers and of course, Zionist conspirators. This threat though largely imaginary, helps to create fear and anxiety among the Malays which in turn, is exploited by the Umno elites to reinforce their political power.

It is legitimate to ask at this point why Umno elites are whipping up ethnic emotions in this manner at this point. There are perhaps four possible reasons.

One, they want to conceal their wrongdoings – wrongdoings linked to alleged corruption and mismanagement. They do not want ordinary Umno members and the Malays in general to realise this.

Two, the Umno elites want to divert the attention of the Malay community in particular, from similar episodes of mismanagement, cheating and corruption in future. The best way to do this is to allege that the scandals about the leadership are all manufactured by anti-Malay elements opposed to the well-being of the Malay community.

Three, the Umno elites hope to divert the attention of the Umno membership from factional feuds within the party. They are afraid that if these feuds are discussed and dissected with candour, their own shortcomings would be exposed. So they exploit Malay communal feelings with the aim of camouflaging the actual situations within Umno.

Four, the Umno elites do not want the people to realise the seriousness of the economic decline. For the economic decline is much worse than earlier anticipated. If the people knew the whole truth, they would get even angrier with the government. To prevent that from happening, ethnic sentiments are mobilised so that the Malay community which is Umno’s base will remain solidly united behind the leadership – in spite of the economic mess.

Ethnic manipulation

From the recent Umno General Assembly we have an outstanding case study of how elites manipulate ethnic emotions for their own political interests. The duty of students is to inform and educate the public on how this happens – irrespective of the party and community involved. They must show the Malaysian citizen why very often the interests of ordinary masses are not served by the ethnic manipulation of the elites.

In the process of educating the public, they must also show them how through communal generalisation, elites often camouflage the truth about a certain situation and deceive a particular community into supporting them. ‘Malays have all the political power’, ‘Chinese have all the economic power’, ‘Malays are first-class citizens’, ‘Non-Malays are second-class citizens’, and so on, are some examples of dangerous communal generalisation. Since communal generalisation is erroneous, it tends to aggravate ethnic relations.

25 September 1986 Chandra Muzaffar

[Excerpt from Aliran publication – ‘Nation on Trial’ (Pages 32-34).]

Has anything changed in Umno in the last two and a half decades? And you still want to vote for the Umno-dominated BN in the forthcoming 13th general election?

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Tota is the pseudonym of a regular contributor to Thinking Allowed Online.

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