Loyal Followers

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

UMNO Has To Change


I am not a member of UMNO.

Well, I need to qualify that. I am not, as far as I know, an UMNO member. I have to say this because I might be a member unknowingly. Sometime, in my kampung, an UMNO guy could have collected 1 ringgit from my mother and filled in the membership application form himself and voila, I became a member although at that time, I was in a boarding school some where!

Although I am not a member, I of course do have friends who are UMNO members. I even have friends who are UMNO hot shots.

About 3 weeks ago I had a drink with some of them. And they asked me what UMNO could do to regain it's position as the premier Malay political party. And of course, to regain power.

UMNO was, until this year, almost synonymous with Malay and Malaysian politics. In my opinion, it was complacent and this complacency led to the March 8 debacle. Drowned in its self proclaimed Malay supremacy, it became arrogant. It forgets that its power is derived from the people. And its arrogance does not endear it to the people. And the people got tired of it. And the rest is history.

The Mahathir era was replete with self importance and arrogance. That era catapulted UMNO warlords to the status of feudalistic leaders, which were worshipped, idolised and feared instead of being respected. Respect was demanded rather than earned.

That era also saw  the emergence of money politics, which by now infested UMNO so badly that it has become  endemic  at all level of UMNO. It came as no surprise though. Mahathir's motto was Malaysia Boleh. We can. UMNO can. In street lingo, everything oso can.

You have political contact? Here is a project. You go and do it. I would call up the bank and ask them to finance it. We all make profit. Can? Yes, we can. If you fail, well, don't worry. I would ask Petronas or EPF to bail you out. In the meantime, project costs were hiked up, for the benefit of all and sundry, except the nation and the people. You cannot make money? Well, here's a concession. A no-brainer concession. 30 years. And extendable indefinitely too. And it is reviewable too.  Reviewable to your benefit, of course.

That was how it worked. And everybody, I mean every body in Malaysia got used to that system. The easy-peasy way of making money. All you need is a hot shot contact. The rest is provided to you on a silver platter. Mahathirnomics was about "shortcutism" to "bankable-lyism". Just imagine. A business which rakes in the millions, and even billions sometime, without the risk and effort. Only in Malaysia.

That mantra goes to the root of UMNO. You want to be a leader? Pay me and I will support you. Yes we can. And now, it became endemic. Mahathir himself is now regretting it. Of course he doesn't admit it. He is blaming the current leadership. He is shouting and screaming away and even threatening to disclose the names of those whom he thinks had partaken in money politics. But even he himself admits that he has no proof. That is how insidious UMNO money politic is. Even Mahathir can't prove it!

In Mahathir's era, everything is short cut. If a business venture could be measured as a path from A to Z, Z would be  achieved first. Than we would all work backward to A. Oh look, we have a problem at R and let's solve it. Oh, another problem at C. Let's solve it. That was how it was.

This methodology crept into UMNO. It had not only crept but had become the way of UMNO. Thus, men of suspicious character became leaders. Men of untested character became leaders in UMNO.

Meanwhile, men of character, of intellect, of reason, visions and plans, were side stepped. These men refused to play the game. They were steadfast in their resolution not to partake in corruption. They were men of principles. They would question. They would seek answers. They would support the righteous rather than blindly follow. What did these men get? They got killed off. They got side stepped. They got sacked.

The UMNO leadership vacuum, as it exists today, is caused by non other than Mahathir. As such it is laughable that Mahathir himself is lamenting that fact nowadays. The totally undemocratic methods of election in UMNO must change. The current method promotes feudalism and nepotism in a wider sense. How can an incumbent have an advantage over a challenger, for instance? But in UMNO, this is considered acceptable and democratic. All in the name of unity. An undemocratic process will stay undemocratic even if it  is premised on unity, tradition, consensus  and what have you. Those are but false premises. But that is the system preferred by UMNO. That has to change, if UMNO values true leadership and true democracy. Without true leadership, UMNO would have to swim in idol worshipping and unbridle powers where leaders are feared rather than respected. Just like in the feudal days. That, in the end, would bring the end for UMNO. Remember the Abassid caliphate?  Why did it disappear?

How many time have we heard a deputy so and so in UMNO saying that he or she has been loyal to his or her chief? I remember Najib Razak saying something to the effect that "I have never argued with Pak Lah. He is my leader. I have never been disrespectful to him". Remember what Shahrizat said about Rafidah? The same thing too. In UMNO, opposite opinions are not appreciated. They are not solicited nor are they welcome. Loyalty means you keep quiet and agree with me. You say what I say and do what I wish you to do. All the deputies would then sit quietly while waiting for the day the chief announces his retirement. That is leadership UMNO style! How is leadership going to be developed then? Is it any wonder why there is a dearth of true leaders in UMNO currently? Just look at the nominations for the top posts in UMNO. I get frighten just reading their names. This has to change.

In my opinion, UMNO has to unshackle itself from that arrogant image. It could start by re-branding itself and by re-imaging itself. The UK Labour and Conservatice parties came up with new logos in the wake of the new millennium. Perhaps UMNO should start by doing the same. Ditch its out dated keris and red logo for starters. Turn it into some modern aged logo with blue as its main colour scheme. Have a softer image. And more pleasing. Red and the keris are so fierce. So menacing. Change that for starters.

UMNO also has to realise that the people are tired of all the lies the mainstream mass media, which it controls, are telling day in day out. It is not as if the people don't know the truth. Ages ago, of course, the people did not have the ability to know the truth and they took the various lies in the mainstream mass media as the absolute gospel truth. But that is not the case anymore nowadays. Nowadays, the people, especially the young and the internet savvy, check out the net and compare the news and choose NOT to believe the mainstream media. Because they know how to differentiate facts from mere fictions, or lies. UMNO has to realise this. Propaganda is one thing. Lies are another thing altogether.

Lies don't work anymore. Lies don't work because the people are now educated and sophisticated. They have analytical minds. We are not living in the 50s and 60s anymore for heaven's sake. The people don't believe all  the mainstream "news" hook line and sinker anymore. They read them. They analyse. And they form an opinion. UMNO may not appreciate opinions, especially when the opinions differ from the leadership's opinions, but UMNO must accept the fact that the people are not followers anymore. They might be supporters, but definitely not followers. There is a difference between supporters and followers. While the latter follow their leaders, the former choose to support and they would only support if they think the leaders are worth supporting.

That is the situation now.

The people's perception about UMNO now is that its leaders are in it just because power could bring untold wealth. And the ability to control. That is the perception. They could drive nice luxury cars in nice single plate number. They could park anywhere they like. They could jump que. Heck, they almost could do anything they like! Before March 8 this year for instance, there was this black Perdana with an MP crest always double parking beside my car when I sent my daughter to school every morning. He wouldn't even apologise to me. I would have to wait for him to come before I could move my car. And he would give me a dirty look if I grumbled at his blatant rudeness and inconsiderate manner ( well, after March 8 2008, this guy, I am happy to report, does not go to that school in the black Perdana anymore. The MP crest is also gone! For obvious reason). That just about encapsulates the arrogance of UMNO so called leaders. That has to change. The people are tired of it.

UMNO also has to have a new battle cry. All these shit about "the Malay struggle" and "ketuanan Melayu" are now old songs. The "struggle" now is the struggle of Malaysia and all Malaysians. It is about globalisation. It is about neo-colonisation. It is about religious extremism which translates into terrorism. It is about how to make all of us better. About education, health care, proper infrastructures (economics and physical development). About empowerment. About justice and fairness. About transparency and accountability.

All these are lacking. And frighteningly, nobody is championing it. You want example? Well, has anybody at all accepted the responsibility for the Bukit Antarabangsa landslides? None! How about forex losses? None. And how are moneys from our natural resources spent? Don't know. How are we going to live when crude touches 20 usd per barrel? Don't know. Nobody knows. UMNO wants to be the people's champion? Well, all these things must be addressed.

Stripped of all intellectual considerations, the theories and philosophies, politics is just about  the act of persuading people to agree with one's position. It is the art of persuasion. Of course, the end result is power. But political power is not the end. It is just a means to an end. UMNO has to realise this.

That was my answer to them. It took me 40 minutes to lecture them. They nodded and paid for my coffee.

Well, at least they were nice to me.

Happy new year everybody. May the new year bring us all everything that is good. May it also bring us enough so that we can give to those who are in need.


cakapaje said...


Don't know-lah! I mean, these guys have been sitting and talking for umpteen years about making it right, but keep on doing it right. Then, someone suggested they do a lobotomy, which they agreed to without the slightest idea what it meant. And after taking out almost 3/4 of the brain out, they woke up with a case or 2 of amnesia.

Now, they function basically according to their basic instinct, which off course, was what the surgery was meant to take out of them. So I do very much believe, the best tonic for them is a room about 3feet wide, 6feet long, and 6feet deep. The solitary confinement there would do them - and everyone else! - a world of good.

Anonymous said...

All talk and no action, that's how the rakyat's been taking it for so many years now. In the meantime, this hierarchical feudalistic patronage kind of system has grown cancerous. What do we do with cancerous bodies? Total anilhilation or chemo-therapy.

Elvis Lives

romerz said...

Excellent piece!

Don't know if I'll get brickbats for saying this but there are some good people within UMNO, just a little misguided and used by the self-serving 'hot-shots'.

Your article will go a long ways to educate the 'lost souls' within UMNO. My sincere hope is that they will rise above their comfort zones and do the necessary!

Once again, a very well reasoned argument.

Borneo Warrior said...

Very good piece indeed.
UMNO needs all the luck in the world for total rebranding; from its logo to all and sundry!

Lest Malaysians dont realise, Sarawak is the only State in Malaysia where UMNO has no political prescence and influence.Thats at least a comfort!Or,is it? Ney..UMNO is an angel compared to Sarawak's brand of "Its all mine" politics and governance! See you West Malaysians and Sabahans are ten times luckier!

koolgeek said...


following your advice, UMNO will will to open its door to non-Malays.

and if they open that door, UMNO will not only have to change its flag, it has to change name to United Malaysia National Organization.

DAP will then shit in their pants!

koolgeek said...

i am not a DAP member.

but DAP has already started what you have suggested to UMNO.

i dont think your kopi will change anything in UMNO.

as Haris said, UMNO has to be put to sleep. it's beyond repair. thanks to Mahathir. (heck, it's United Mahathirism National Org really)

Navi said...

Just after the March 8th Tsunami, Pak Lah rather recklessly announced that he has received the peoples' message. He seemed confident of what needed to be done to meet the aspiration of the people and to institute change. A week later he was lost in a sea of doubt. All it needed was a meeting with his UMNO warlords to change his mind. Forgotten were his promises of reforms. His flip-flopping never ceases to amaze.
With such rigid stand by the UMNO chiefs in waiting, UMNO will never reform nor make any affirmative change to better themselves and in the process the nation.
Yopu are right and I agree with Haris too. UMNO needs to be put to sleep.

Kris said...

Well said.

Quote "The UMNO leadership vacuum, as it exists today, is caused by non other than Mahathir. As such it is laughable that Mahathir himself is lamenting that fact nowadays" It goes beyond UMNO... Mahathir just wanted a bunch of sycophants around him as he believed he was absolutely right and dissent was not tolerated let alone considered. We have a dearth of good quality people and systems because these were systematically dismantled and removed to serve the ideology of one. Our future was basically flushed down the toilet...

LAT,Ipoh. said...

Our Learned Art Harun !

All the Brain-Drained creatures are nurtured and raised in UMNO By Tun Mamaktir for the past 22 years; and All the Brainstorm Intellectual like you and me are here blogging to seek and share the truth !

Old Fart said...

Honest advise that sadly will be lost to those who most need it.

But UMNO is lost. AS Haris Says, Its dead beyond repair and its best put to sleep.

UMNO is most needed by those who benefit from it directly and most.

Look at the character of the people wanting for the perpetuation of UMNO.

Do you see in there any good men and women of character?

The good men and women of UMNO are not asking for its perpetuation as vigorously as the war lords and their goons.

ewoon said...

UMNO can remain as UMNO.

As long as it stands for United Malaysians National Organisation.

But will they do it. Of course, in a million year's time.

dean said...

it's way too late for umno. the world around it has changed first. now the anachronistic beast will have to go the way of the dodo and the dinosaur.

art, instead of making a case for change in umno, you would be doing everyone a big favour by sending out a warning to stay well away from the thrashing of the dying dinosaur's tail.

Anonymous said...

man rushes into dentis office,'doctor doctor sakit gigi teruklah adoi sakitnyaaaa' doctor asks the man to sit in the chair and examines him, the doctor says after a through examination 'WELL MY FRIEND I HAVE SOME GOOD NEWS AND SOME BAD NEWS, THE GOOD NEWS IS ALL YOUR TEETH ARE IN PERFECT CONDITION, ' so the patient asks the doctor 'ah that is good, I need my crocodile smile for all those votes, but WHAT IS THE BAD NEWS DOC' dENTIST ANSWERS ' WELLLLL Hmmmm HOW SHOULD I PUT IT, ALL YOUR TEETH ARE OK, BUT YOUR GUMS HAVE ROTTED AND HAS CANCER, SO there is nothing anybody or money can do for you , unless they have found a a way to transplant heads, there IS NO CURE AND YOU ARE SOON FOR THE GRAVE' well thats what Umno has, its GOT TERMINAL CANCER AND THE PEOPLE DON'T WANT IT IN CONTROL ANYMORE, SO BEGONE WITH YOU SATAN.


good piece.
My favourite: "If a business venture could be measured as a path from A to Z, Z would be achieved first. Than we would all work backward to A. Oh look, we have a problem at R and let's solve it. Oh, another problem at C. Let's solve it."
Hahaha! how UMNOish. VO (Variation Order) after VO after VO, they all then get rich by escalating the cost, leaving the tax payers to bear it all. Let's just put it to sleep as Haris suggested.

CPK said...

An insightful and incisive commentary, but casting pearls before swine, it would seem...
If you ever stand for public office, you will have my support.

Anonymous said...

UMNO is very sick, however he never want to take medicine that can save his life. The worst part is , he will stop or kill anyone who is trying to save him. At the end, he will be short lived.

rocky said...

when you think of UMNO, what comes to your mind? to me it is corruption and arrogance.

Dr.M is guilty for many things but he thinks he can do no wrong and has done nothing wrong.

UMNO membership now is made of so many businessmen unlike those days y teachers etc. so we can say money rules instead of brain power. and these teachers we rich in adat and polite.

UMNO needs a revolution but they still think they are invisible. Just look at how they make the PM so powerful even with new laws like MACC. They don't realise that the opposition may come into power one day and use all those powers that UMNO President has against UMNO.

A true Malaysian said...

UMNO has to change. There is no doubt about this. Everyone of us knows except UMNO.

The antics of UMNO after 308 tsunami shown that UUMNO will not change and they 'can be changed' by our precious 'one vote' in our hand.

Just look at the tactics they are using in this coming KT 'bye-bye' election. The same old stories of Chinese education, Hudud Law, disharmony within PR are being playing up by MSM to fish for Chinese votes. But, are the KT Chinese so silly for UMNO and its gang to fish? I don't think so.

PP by-election, KT bye-bye election and the next GE are all about 'Competency, Accountability and Transparency'. They are not about race issues anymore.

It is too late for UMNO to change, even if they have the will now. UMNO must seriously look into Altantuya, corruption, incompetency of police force, its own election mechanism, decline in education standard, the list goes on, you guys can sambung from here.

Forget about MCA, MIC and Gerakan, they are all dead. They are just like walking corpses. We put much hope on Ong Tee Keat, but that fellow failed us.

Obituary for them is unnecessary. Malaysians just want them to be part of our darkest history and look ahead for brighter future.

KT voters, you are not just voting for yourselves, but for the people of Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

"UMNO has to change" and because it WILL NOT change ...let's put it to sleep! If it ever changes, then it can be a phoenix to rise from the ashes - but right now, put it to sleep. Imagine it's delegates giving the Muhamad2 Tyson and Rahim Rapist Thambi Chik a chance to run...what else needs to be said?!

Voters in KT - please continue where March 8 started!!

Ka Ea Lim said...

I think we have all misunderstood the slogan "Malaysia Boleh". It's not meant to show we are capable of anything. It's more of "thou shall not question me" kind of principle.

UMNO: Eh, can you shut up and not question us?

Ahmad: Yes, boleh!

Thamby: Yes, boleh!

Ah Kao: Yes, boleh!

UMNO: Eh, can you close an eye and not question where RM80 million has gone?

Ah Seng: Yes, boleh!

Muthu: Errr...not sure I can.
UMNO: What you mean? Malaysia Boleh what!

Well, you get the gist.