Wednesday 14 July 2010

The UMNO Generation.

We now have amongst us one generation of people who have grown up under UMNO rule. I belong to this generation. I was born a year after UMNO came into being. 1947. With UMNO I went through Merdeka. The image of Tunku and Merdeka is ingrained in my memory with much affection and nostalgia for things long past. Nothing since then have defined our country more then that moment of our independence. As PM Tunku’s northern accent and his laid back persona still resonates with me in my longing for a leader in whom  we can have affection for. His northern accent brought all of us closer to him and reinforced the belief that while we are different, we were together as Malaysian.
Tun Razak looked stern and exudes a no nonsense exterior but won me over with his work ethics. I remember him in his bush jacket hurrying from one rural enclave to another with his cane. Stopping here and there for a hurried query, discussions or taklimat from those around him – and then he is off again. I did remember seeing him at my Uncles house,  the late Mahmood Ambak, quietly sipping away at some ‘refreshments’. We knew who he was but we were not encouraged to interfere with ‘men’s business’….and Tun Razak did not look too eager to engage in conversation with anybody – much less me. Sometimes I would see Khir Johari there too and a number of notable Malays who should for now, remain nameless. All ‘refreshment’ buddies of my uncle ....... ‘swimming buddies’.
Hussein Onn came and left too soon and I did not have time to know him even from a distance….and most probably because I was in London supposedly to do my studies. He was distant but not cold. I remember him as having the resolve to go after Harun idris – the all-powerful MB of Selangor, for corruption. And more to the point had Harun convicted of the charge. Hussein Onn was confident of doing so because he was the very personification of a leader with integrity and without blemish. Till today I would like to keep my belief that he gave up the post of Prime Minister because he no longer wanted to be part of the politics that UMNO was becoming.
It was around the Razak and Hussein era that the first inkling of a political dynasty of any significance came into my consciousness. Both of them were married to sisters and the thought crossed my mind that that sure was the making of a dynasty.
When Mahathir became PM the “Malay Dilemma” had already preceded him and I think the term “ultra” was already bestowed upon him. I remember the nametags, clocking in for government servants and the gradual process of tinkering with our thought process, guiding our expectations and aspirations begun under Mahathir.
There was no mistaking the Mahathir era…or maybe era is not the right word to use. Regime would be a more appropriate. Though many would disagree with me, enough has been said about his time in office. My thoughts can be summarized as being intially love, dislike and hate relationship. He came in with a bang and maintained the momentum as he headed enthusiastically into privatization, negotiated tenders, money politics, nepotism, cronyism and most damaging of all – the concept of materialism as a way of life for the Malays in particular and the others in general with a tenacity we could not ignore. The sum of it all is this. We are not a better people or country because he was PM. Like KLIA and Putrajaya Mahathir’s time with us was all glitter and glitz without soul and substance and totally bereft of any respect or understanding from him for what a multi ethnic population needed to live as one. Mahathir did it his way. His way was not ours.
Pak Lah has always been Abang Lah to me and I will leave it at that.
Najib has always been there somewhere lurking in the recess of my mind from the time he was MB of Pahang. His sexual escapades were fodder for conversation when we meet with friends and acquaintances. His only claim to fame was not the Pahang MB job or his Minister of Defense post – no it was always that he was the son of Tun Razak. Without that protecting him he would have long been eliminated in the cut and thrust of UMNO politics. He simply did not distinguish himself in anything that he did. He played safe in any skirmishes that UMNO had. What also kept him in the spotlight were the antics of Rosmah. A lady much too easy to dislike for her insistence that she was privy to the power in the hands of her husband as Minister of Defense. She was already first Lady when Najib was DPM. I have yet to meet anybody, living or departed, who has had anything good to say about her. But that is Najib’s misfortune – when you go after someone else’s wife, you reap what you sow.
So I lay claim to be one of those in the generation that knew no other political master but UMNO in Malaysia. From independent till today. Today I see UMNO not as the champion of the Malays nor can it lay claim to being defender for Islam. So if it cannot do what it promised for the Malays surely it has less credibility to do so for the other races under 1Malaysia.
Everything that UMNO has done wrong was crystallized in the 2008 election. Their rejection by over 50% of the Malaysian people was total. All that remains is for PR to deliver the coup de grace in the coming general election.
Whether PR can do so or not is already being discussed by every thinking Malaysia on a daily basis. That this is so is a triumph for our will to change what we do not want. We do not want another BN government. Not for the next fifty years, not for the next ten. No, not even for the next one or two years.  But for now we will have to endure the unbearable until the next general election is upon us. Then God willing we will rid ourselves of BN. Until then we need to keep our anger boiling. Keep the fire burning. You are one. With me we are two. Let us keep those bastards honest!     

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