In his first few days in Office I watched Najib with detached amusement of his first “turun padang’ in Brickfields and then Chinatown and my thoughts went back to Pak Lah and his “unannounced” visit to the Immigration Department in Damansara and Mahathir with his name tags and clocking-in antics. All show and no substance but good photo opportunity sessions. Maybe amusement would not be the most appropriate response with Najib because by then we were acutely aware of what UMNO has become and we have the right to feel anger at the way the past three Prime Minister have collectively managed to mismanaged and consigned our country to audacious levels of corruption in government and an orgy of conspicuous consumption amongst the political elites (and I use the term elites loosely here!)
It has been a challenging five decades after Merdeka for us Malays. If the Malays have not existed UMNO would have to invent us because without the Malays UMNO would not have survived the May 13th incident in 1969. Then after the Malays came the Bumiputra and now Ketuanan Melayu! UNNO had always had the interest of the Malays at heart in everything that they do and this interest were conceptionalized into massive and grandiose master plans and projects that benefited, in reality, UMNO rather then the Malays. Let no one be under the illusion that the blame for the situation this country now finds itself in can and should be laid at the door of UMNO.
It would seem that taking a lesson from the May 13 riots of 1969, UMNO would again happily reduce our country to chaos in order to remain in power. Racial issues, even in the best of time are notoriously difficult to manage and regulate and what regulations artificially put in place to induce its growth will fail without the political will to make it happen. And this political will was conspicuously missing in the 50 years that UMNO has ruled.
Time and time again the parroting of the Rukun Negara and various racial harmony programs was suppose to bring a new era of One Malaysia but have resulted instead in miserable failure. It would indeed be sad if these failures were to be exploited by UMNO and interpreted by them as the Malays still needing time to come to par with the others and in so concluding UMNO would then happily roll back to those post May 13th days of 1969. Grim as the conditions are now it must not be forgotten that greater and more prolonged problems resulted from the years of strong government intervention in business during Mahathir’s time. What we are facing now has its roots during those days where Mahathir ruled the land in splendid isolation without the benefit of checks and balances to counter his excesses. What ISA problems we now have is nothing compared to the 106 arrested under the ISA on October 27 1987 by PDRM under Ops Lalang and the revoking of the publishing of two dallies The Star and SinChew Jit Poh and two weeklies The Sunday Star and Watan.
Then as now the problem of the Mahathir years resulted from the awakening of the Political Elites and preferred cronies to the possibilities of accumulating richness sans borders. Everything was fair game. utilities, health, race, age, national pride, national unity, royalty, Petronas, Tabung Haji, EPF, PDRM, Mindef the Judiciary – anywhere where a Ringgit could be made was fair game. All this was done with the enthusiastic connivance of the powers that be – from the Prime minister down! Pillage and plunder when done by the rich and powerful devastates a country resources. It involves the populace as the actions of its leaders seemingly give legality to the very act of corruption. Corruption dictates a mentality that breaks down all previously existing sentiments which holds a decent society together. Corruption became the norm. Its insidious entry into the Malay psyche has taken roots where it damages its own race most – within its own political leaders.
For now what has awakened the people in the last General election is the fear of failure. By declining to give UMNO carte blanc to rule Malaysia again for the next five years the Malaysian People made an important statement: that no one, not even UMNO will be allowed to fail us again - we now give Pakatan Rakyat the opportunity to get part of our house back in order before it fails completely.