The Political Cuckolding of UMNO
Where will UMNO be with and/or without Perikatan Nasional (PN)? Should UMNO remain with Perikatan Nasional (PN) or go with only Barisan Nasional (BN) and Muafakat Nasional (MN)?
From the outside looking in, it looks as if UMNO is divided between various groups – those who want to work with PPBM, those who want to only work with PAS and Barisan Nasional (BN), and those who want the party to go on its own with only BN.
Truth be told, should PPBM insist on standing in the seats that UMNO won in GE14, I am more inclined with the second group - work with only BN and PAS.
But before any of that, what needs to be done first is to fix the problems the party is currently plagued with, followed by strengthening BN as a multi-racial coalition, and then ensure that the political cooperation with PAS is solid and has no rooms for any eleventh hour changes before the next GE.
The nature of Malaysian politics is such that people will forget your achievements and focus on the current performance of the political parties. Sadly, UMNO and BN are getting pushed aside and the worry is that their sacrifices in helping create the PN Government will be forgotten.
Why is this happening?
One of many reasons is due to the leadership’s failure to clear the party's stance from the onset vis a vis its relationship with PPBM, the failure to negotiate for better terms that solidifies the party and the BN coalition's standing within PN, and more importantly, the failure of the current leadership to listen to what the party’s grassroots and supporters on the ground are lamenting.
The political cuckolding of UMNO started with the now infamous “Sheraton Move”. While I understand and agree that because of the mismanagement and unsatisfactory governance by the then much heralded PH Government, something had to be done. But what the UMNO leadership failed to do and should have done was to firmly put forward the party’s stance, but they didn’t and unfortunately, that ship has sailed.
Yes, UMNO meant well and did the right thing by working with PPBM, GPS, PAS and others to repair the alienating and divisive ways of the PH Government, but do the general public see that? Do they even acknowledge what UMNO – who till today has the highest number of MPs in PN - had to give up in order to create PN and save them from the horrible performance of the PH Administration?
No, they don't. Nor do they care.
Now, UMNO is stuck in this cuckold position within PN. The question before UMNO now is: what should the party do? Will sticking with PN and work together for the next GE be tenable in the long run? Will such cooperation lead to further political cuckolding that could, and might, eventually weaken - and evil kill - UMNO and BN further? These are some questions the current or incoming leadership must ask themselves.
Those who are in favor of working with PPBM have been propagating their stance by asking the thought-provoking question: “can the party be on its own with a still-tainted brand name?” This is a fair question, but as mentioned above, the very first thing that UMNO needs to do is fix the problems that are plaguing the party. Before any cooperation can be negotiated and finalized, the onus is on the party to address its internal issues first. Once it’s done and only after it’s done could the party even think of cooperation with others. Any talk of who to cooperate with before the party has addressed its internal issues and problems is meaningless, and it also places the party at a disadvantage when dealing with potential cooperation partners.
And it also bodes well for everyone within the party and its millions of supporters to always remember that PPBM was created to replace UMNO. If PPBM's raison d'etre hasn't changed and UMNO continue to play oblivious to this one glaring truth and don’t act accordingly, PPBM’s original objective of wiping UMNO out from Malaysian politics will materialize
UMNO and BN need structural changes within, and albeit this has been endlessly discussed, no concrete and meaningful actions have come out of it thus far. UMNO needs to look at the current state of Malaysian politics while also looking towards the future at the same time.
In my honest opinion, besides the dire need for a new leadership, UMNO also needs a concrete and well-thought-out leadership transition strategy to allow for the much-required generational change within the party.
An inter-generational and equitable strategy needs to be in place to make sure UMNO has a solid succession plan to face the new and future political challenges. The party needs to evolve into an organization of ideas, a platform to incubate thinking party members and supporters. It also needs to be a party that allows every segment of the membership and the general populace to discuss and contribute innovate and good policies to effectively address issues that are plaguing the party, our society and our country.
UMNO must not only be seen as ready to evolve to be better, but it must also be actually ready to evolve to be better. Despite being part of the government, it must start to voice out on real issues, pressure the government – including UMNO leaders in the Cabinet - to develop and implement better and sustainable policies based on real insights from the ground.
But without the political will to really change from the inside out, all the numerous and endless discussions and strategies to make UMNO better will be futile.
And it also bodes well for everyone within the party - especially the leadership - and its millions of supporters to always remember that PPBM was created to replace UMNO. If PPBM's raison d'etre hasn't changed and UMNO continue to play oblivious to this one glaring truth and don’t act accordingly, PPBM’s original objective of wiping UMNO out from Malaysian politics will materialize.