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Umno assembly: Political circus comes to town again

Cartoon by Zunar/Malaysiakini

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Umno is set to pull the wool over the eyes of delegates at its general assembly by avoiding the real issues and indulging in diversionary tactics, writes Tota.

zunar cartoon on umno circus
Cartoon by Zunar

I discussed with my good Malay friend, well educated, knowledgeable and studies Umno politics, the forthcoming Umno general assembly, which he calls the “goon show”.

He maintains the Umno leadership, as always, will pull wool over the eyes of the delegates by indulging in diversionary tactics. They will avoid discussing the problems that confront the Malay community.

He is sure that key issues – the horrendous political corruption, the AG’s report which confirms severe corruption in the civil service, the drug addiction problem and HIV, child marriage, teenage pregnancies and baby-dumping, the ever-increasing divorce rate, gender equality with regard to alimony payments, custodial rights and property division, rural poverty, incest, unemployable Malay graduates, extremism and the threat to national unity, the IS threat, the escalating crime rate, the rising national and household debt, the ever-rising cost of living, GST, the destruction of the environment, capital flight, the talent flight, and low education standards – will not be of importance at the assembly.

If Umno discusses 50 per cent of the above problems, I win our bet of RM100.

My friend says that going by the last Umno assembly, the “goons” are most likely to indulge in:

  • Pakatan bashing
  • Anwar bashing
  • Non-Malay, especially Chinese, bashing
  • Demonising the Christians
  • Talk about abolition of vernacular schools
  • Calls to retain the Sedition Act
  • Calls for Malay support to ensure “bangsa, agama and raja-raja” are not destroyed
  • Emphasising the Malay Agenda, Malay hegemony, ketuanan Melayu and Malay supremacy
  • Calls for action to be taken against those agitating for Sabah and Sarawak to leave Malaysia.
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My friend recalled the Umno assembly that was televised. The rakyat for the first time were interested in what transpired at an Umno assembly.

But they were horrified at what was said and done by the delegates. No wonder Umno never again televised its assembly proceedings. At a later Umno assembly, Hishammuddin’s shameful performance of threatening the non-Malays and kissing the keris is fresh in the minds of the rakyat.

My friend says that this general assembly will be no different. The last one saw the bashing of the Pakatan Rakyat, Anwar, the non-Malays, especially the Chinese, the Christians etc. plus a video clip about Anwar’s poker bluff of 16 September and the alleged Bangladeshi voters padding the electoral rolls. Umno changing and transforming is mere rhetoric.

On 25 September 1986, Chandra Muzaffar, the then Aliran president, had this to say of the Umno assembly:

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

One, they want to conceal their own wrong-doings – wrong-doings 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 situation 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.

From the recent Umno General Assembly we have an outstanding case study how elites manipulate ethnic emotions for their own political interests.

If Umno discusses half the topics above, I win the bet of RM100.

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I asked my friend whether Najib would make the stirring speech he made at the UN about moderation.

My friend’s reply was that Najib would not have the courage and the will power to do so. Also that Najib is a hero overseas but at home he is a coward.

As I took leave of him, my friend was rubbing his palms in glee.

When I asked him why he was doing that, he replied that he was itching to receive my RM100!

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

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