Umno — self-induced rigor mortis

Sakmongkol AK47
The Malaysian Insider
May 30, 2011

MAY 30 — I have written so many essays critical of Umno in the past.

Friends asked me why am I still in Umno? How can I write many nasty things about Umno and seemed to get away with it — why haven’t I been hauled up by the Umno disciplinary committee or something and not ticked off? Isn’t there anything good that Umno has done.

Let’s clear one thing first. This is the source of many of Umno’s problems. Some people assigned to themselves the right to determine who should or shouldn’t be in Umno. They then judge others in terms of their thinking and criteria. Pak Lah or any others can’t measure up to Mahathir in many aspects. But they are not necessarily inferior to Mahathir. They are different. They must be judged on objective terms, not the subjective standards of one Mahathir.

Najib doesn’t seem to do things anything right according to Mahathir. The old man is so stressed up and suffers physical debilitations.

The problem worsens to become person-centric. One person determines and defines Umno. Inevitably, the right to be in or out of Umno depends on loyalty to individuals and not on the political ideals, ideas, shared vision and so forth.

The problems become multiplied many fold, when Umno ‘farms’ out the responsibility of sieving and determining leadership material to hired hands outside the party. These are the intellectual hacks and overrated audio visual and print media practitioners who arrogate to themselves the ultimate discretion of how should Umno behave.

Hence there are people who think Umno is the personal kingdom of some people and that the issues of these individuals exist to inherit the kingdom of Umno.

What has Umno become then? It becomes an organisation feudal in nature where its leadership depends on being from the right loins. The leadership in Umno is therefore no different from the method of ascribing extraordinary abilities by being conceived from a buloh betong, materialising from a cow’s vomit or suddenly beamed from across the terrestrial highs to bukit si guntang Mahameru.

From thereon, the majority of Umno suckers pledged eternal loyalty to the blue blood.

This is the earliest symptoms of the inability of Umno to manage success. For over the years, Umno attracts a multitude of thoughts, aggressive and independent minded individuals, a vibrant ward of supporters, personalised political inclinations as success unavoidably do, that its continuity and longevity, depends ultimately on the ability to manage all that diversity.

This, the current crop of leadership spawned unfortunately during the Mahathir years failed to do. Umno has generally failed to spawn ‘elastic’ leadership that is capable of adapting. Instead it has led to the emergence of a leadership hell-bent on preserving freakish control and one opposed to internal transformation.

I can only answer by asking why shouldn’t I be in Umno? Umno isn’t the property of the present crop of Umno leaders. Some of them are there because of some unexpected happenstance. They have the right ‘bins’.

You are bin somebody, therefore you are leadership material. This is a fundamental defect of Umno’s leadership. Which I will continue to offer criticisms.

Secondly, I believe I have done nothing wrong to be the guest of the disciplinary committee. Finally, there are of course many good things that Umno has facilitated, whenever there was good leadership.

There are of course the people whose replies are directed ad hominem.

My personal problems used as weapon to demolish my arguments. My service as a one term Umno ADUN taken as an indication that I have not performed well. To the first approach, it only serves to entrench my conviction that the majority of Umno members and supporters do not have the stuff to win over people with reasoned arguments. I employ the term stuff as a mild description. To the second, I myself can’t defend my track record. You asked my detractors they will give you the answers you desire to serve the purpose by which you set out in the first place — i.e. to look for ‘facts’ that can vilify me.

In the not so distant future I hope to be able to tell you my side of the story. I believe it will show that it is not I who will be found wanting — but we will discover that I am put in an environment where Umno can’t manage success.

This then is the biggest problem with Umno now. It just doesn’t know how to manage success. It can’t because it doesn’t have the right leadership with the right values, the right institutions to manage the overall success that Umno has generated for the country.

It is still a party held back by old tools of the trade unable to deal with new realities. The development brought possible by Umno — general rise in educational level, rising expectations, infusion of new values, new experiences, all are never appreciated to the full by Umno. As a result, it’s a party that has refused to adapt. DS Najib as the current Umno president is now desperately trying to force Umno to adapt. —

* Sakmongkol AK47 is the nom de plume of Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz. He was Pulau Manis assemblyman (2004-2008).

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 31 May 2011 - 8:53 am

    There is a part of this analysis that is very insightful but deserved further elaboration – “the problem worsens to become person-centric”. Person-centric rule is actually not unusual and is very much more so in developing countries and Asia in general.

    The problem with ‘person-centric’ rule is that its very much dependent on talent, exceptional talent. Mahathir can be considered one but it came with huge flaws that has put us in a bind. Not only that, it has resulted in a follow-up generation that is untalented because Mahathir got rid of anyone who had talent that naturally challenged his huge glaring faults.

    Yes. we have rule not by principle and institutions but the crux and immediate problem is we are also ruled by the talentless when exceptional talent is needed, no required.

  2. #2 by Godfather on Tuesday, 31 May 2011 - 10:51 am

    The day will come when a million people of all races flock to Merdeka Square – to celebrate the implosion of UMNO. That day may be quite soon.

  3. #3 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 31 May 2011 - 6:25 pm

    We all must admit the fact that UMNO was too succesful for its own good. It had spawned proto-types which wanted to do the very same act as their leaders. What is in your mind when you see the very leaders themselves acted without the need to answer to anyone. Hence, the famous response from Nazri:” WE are the polirtical masters! We can do no wrong; however you define it!” So how would you expect Zakaria with his background to take a rational path in any of his actions? He had only ONE OBJECTIVE! we all know it! Likewise, Ibrahim Ali. Yes, we are person-centric; knowing who you know is more important that what you know. Take that philosophy a little further, that is how we treated our children’s education. Real education is less important than the publicity we can get by expounding As all over the place. After over a generation of such guidelines on every aspect of the society, you surely can not wonder why we are in such mess! We have reached a stage even the few good UMNO members cannot mend the sinking ship. There is no more salvation, we can only let it drift and sink. But we have to build a new ship on standby!

  4. #4 by Loh on Wednesday, 1 June 2011 - 11:21 am

    ///You are bin somebody, therefore you are leadership material. This is a fundamental defect of Umno’s leadership. Which I will continue to offer criticisms.///SAK 47

    But UMNO’s PSD tries to do away with something like the bin, though bins stand a better chance than non-bins in scholarship awards. PSD reasoned that for people not born the right bin a few A’s will be granted to balance up the bin issue, to win overseas scholarships.

    Let the issue of right or wrong bin be decided by God, and UMNO has done it right on political succession, but wrong in playing God on social engineering.

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