UPDATE (May 12, 1.18pm):
Umno Youth, Wanita and Puteri are scheduled to have a press conference at 2pm. Here are some questions I hope that would be asked (if they allow questions from the Press that is):
i. Why didn't Umno Youth, Wanita and Puteri play check and balance and looked into Dr Mahathir Mohamad's calls just before he quit Umno in 2016? (Read: Umno Youth loyal because Najib produces results, says Khairy).
ii. Despite so many nationwide programmes involving the masses and youths, it is evident they failed to translate into votes. Shouldn't Pemuda, Wanita and Puteri be also held accountable over Barisan Nasional's failure in GE14?
iii. And if change they are demanding - then should the change start with new faces heading Pemuda, Wanita and Puteri?
UPDATE (May 12, 12.49am):
Watch the KiniTV video Tegang ...pemuda umno 'bergelut' pada majlis ulangtahun Umno
Also read: Khairy: The time to rebuild Umno starts now
|Picture: BFM Evening Edition|
By Haresh Deol
TODAY marks the 72nd anniversary of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno). But don’t expect any birthday bashes with plenty of cakes, pulut kuning and fireworks.
In fact Umno members are suffering from the “withdrawal” syndrome. Others say the fat cats are depressed”.
The politicians and their staunch supporters ignored messages, kept aside their mobile devices and even shied away from social media – the platform they had used extensively in days leading up the 14th general election.
Their critics had a field day mocking and chastising them. Imagine a football team that continues to get booed and ridiculed even after leaving the stadium following an embarrasing 10-0 defeat.
It was only many hours later (for some a day later) that the politicians and supporters admitted defeat in their own way. Some were quick to say they would assist and even sent well wishes to those who have won the mandate of the people.
The change of tone was evident.
And those associated with Umno have a bigger and unprecedented problem – what now?
“We have done so much of work, so much. More than the other parties. It’s like a wasted effort,” said an Umno grassroots leader.
“Since May 9, the phones have not been ringing. No one knows what’s next. We’ve never faced this situation before. Umno dah kalah teruk and no one knows what’s next.”
Many within the party may not want to share their true sentiments for fear of the uncertainty in days, weeks and months to come. Deep down they have only one man to blame – Najib.
Some believe had Najib quit when the 1Malaysian Development Board (1MDB) scandal surfaced or promised a change of leadership right after GE14, Umno – and Barisan Nasional (BN) – may have survived.
Yet, he shows no signs of letting go.
Umno leaders found that they were not judged for the individuals they were and the work they did but they were being judged based on the actions of one man – and thus people marked a cross for a different party logo instead.
The former prime minister was clearly not in tune with sentiments on the ground. People didn’t like Najib – and as far as his biggest critic Dr Mahathir was concerned, half of the battle was already won. Many have somehow erased the “sins” Dr Mahathir had committed during his 22 years in power as they believed he was the only person capable of standing against Najib.
The 92-year-old led an epic revolution to overthrow his former Umno junior in the 14th general election to become the world’s oldest prime minister yesterday.
Most at that age would be in bed by 9pm but Dr Mahathir stayed up and even met the press in the wee hours of the morning (May 10). He then enjoyed a “good breakfast” and spent many hours sitting and waiting at Istana Negara for the swearing-in ceremony.
He is known to have a high pain threshold – perhaps decades of horse riding had toughen him up.
It remains unclear how the history books will define Najib. But for the 3-odd million Umno members and those who stood by him, he failed them and the party big time.
It also remains unclear what will transpire in the next six months for Dr Mahathir and his Pakatan Harapan colleagues.
Dr Mahathir, had in his press conference this morning, again spoke about getting rid of heads of departments who have engaged in corrupt practices. Those occupying high positions in GLCs and the media industry wonder of their fate.
Speaking about the media industry – faith seems to have been restored in at least two national television stations while many are showing interest in politics and what appears on the front page of newspapers. Only time will tell if this sudden interest will assist the media industry which has been struggling with financial woes.
He also revealed his ‘mini Cabinet’ will consist of 10 core ministries looking into finance, home affairs, defense, education, rural development, economics, public works, transportation, foreign, and multimedia, science and technology.
The higher ups in the civil service – used to working with BN-Umno connected ‘friends’ – will have a tough time adjusting.
But before that can happen, Dr Mahathir has got to convince Malaysians that Pakatan Harapan can work together – even after he leaves office.
As he said during a press conference on May 10, "I've to manage four presidents from four different parties. It's going to be a headache.”
He knows unlike in BN where Umno dominated and the rest just followed, with Pakatan Harapan he has to deal with four different dominant parties (and characters) armed with two former deputy prime ministers, Anwar Ibrahim and Muhiyiddin Yassin.
Dr Mahathir is the glue that binds them – for now. Who can play that role later?
With Najib no longer in the picture and by eliminating their arrogant “I’m too smart, I know it all” approach, some Umno leaders can rekindle their love affair with the masses.
They could eventually win the sympathy of the people. They could end up being a strong opposition – something which was severely lacking in the past that allowed BN to rule for far too long. This will ensure there will be check and balances.
Will Umno still enjoy funds from its 'supporters'? Or will we see Umno dumping their very many assets (including media establishments)?
Will Dr Mahathir have a soft spot for his former party and help in its transformation - once the purge is completed?
Should Umno continue to exist? Or should the 72-year-old party start thinking beyond the Malays as their BN partners MCA, MIC and Gerakan have lost the plot long ago and failed to stay true to the original ideals of its past leaders.
What happened in GE14 was not a Malay tsunami but the rise of a ‘Bangsa Malaysia’.
Malaysians did not see the need to quickly remove the indelible ink as they did during the last elections for their stained fingers serve as a reminder how they contributed to a significant historical moment in this very young nation.
This is without doubt interesting times for Malaysia and the democratic process of the country.
And if Umno plays it right, this may not be the end but a new beginning for the party.