Wednesday, December 7, 2011

UMNO's Support Waning, Holds On To "4R" For Refuge

One kampong resident said, "The government's education policies are politicised. They are designed to keep rural Malays ignorant. If we receive a good education, we will ask too many questions. Umno feels threatened."

PAS deputy president, Mat Sabu's claim that Umno would use its "3R" strategy (race, religion, royalty) to win GE-13, was evident in Umno's General Assembly.

But the analysis is partially correct. There is one other "R" which could be included in Umno's arsenal: the "rural vote" thus making it the "4R" strategy (race, religion, royalty, rural).
Anyone who has observed the Dewan Rakyat debate might be ashamed that Malaysian parliamentarians appear shallow, with a limited grasp of intelligent discussion. Shouting, banging of desks and sexist remarks are "normal".

At the recently concluded Umno General Assembly, who could forget the belligerent racist rhetoric of the Umno leaders?

Umno said opposition parties were 'more' racist and singled out the DAP. Umno is careful not to upset the Malays and not condemn PAS, because PAS is identified with Malays. It knows Malay support for Umno is waning.

Umno deputy president, MuhyiddinYassin declared: "The 13th general election is the mother of all elections as it would determine whether the Malays will fall or rise…..Do you want to see the political power to be lost and allow the opposition to win Putrajaya? ….Are we prepared to see the Malays lose their power on their own land?"

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak alleged that if the opposition were to rule, teachers, doctors, nurses, the police and armed forces would lose their jobs. He claimed that Pakatan would reduce the size of the civil service. Most civil servants are Malay.

Having portrayed Umno as the only party that can protect the Malays, Islam and the sultans, Muhyiddin criticised the DAP for wanting to set up a republic.

He said, "They dare to suggest that the prime minister's position to be elected directly and not appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong…….the democratic parliamentary system and the constitutional monarchy which we have been practising thus far no longer suit their interest to seize power".

Political pundits disagree. They said that the weakened Umno support among Malays was the reason that Umno is trying to turn the Malays against the DAP, with false claims of a republic and a non-Malay PM.

One observer said, "Umno kept quiet when Mahathir launched his scathing attack on the sultans in 1983 and reduced their powers.

"Actually Umno is guilty of sowing the seeds for creating a republic. Umno/BN has given voting rights in exchange for citizenship to millions of Indonesians and Filipinos. These illegals will soon establish a republic."

"Perhaps Umno subconsciously thinks Malaysia is already a republic. The PM's wife calls herself "First Lady". She usurps our Queen's role."

Another observer claimed that Umno politicians had condoned attacks on other religions. He cited examples like the cow-head incident, the banning of Malay bibles at Malaysian ports, the prohibition of non-Malays from using the word "Allah", the arson attacks on Christian communities and forced conversions.

Umno's strength lies in capitalising on the rural-urban divide in areas which include education, availability of the internet and infrastructure.

Rural communities say that children lack access to good schools, adequate teaching facilities and capable teachers. When English, used for the teaching of mathematics and science in schools was re-introduced, the belief was that Malays in the rural heartlands would be opposed to it.
One kampong resident said, "The government's education policies are politicised. They are designed to keep rural Malays ignorant. If we receive a good education, we will ask too many questions. Umno feels threatened."

A Malay elder said, "Around independence, we had a choice. Many of our kampung boys who chose English medium schools, excelled and became professionals.

"Nowadays, we are brainwashed into thinking we cannot cope with another language. Or they use emotional blackmail and say we have forgotten our Malay roots.

"Today, our village has several unemployed young men. There are no vacancies for government jobs in town. The big industries are reluctant to employ them. Why? Because they cannot speak English. The old-timers speak better English than these boys. The government has effectively marginalised the rural communities, with their educational policies."

A village resident said, "Fortunately, my children who live and work in town, keep me informed. They told me about large scale corruption in government. The TV says nothing about this. Perhaps rural development is deliberately kept slow."

Malaysians agree that today's rakyat is better educated and more widely travelled, both physically and in cyberspace. Malaysians have a good grasp and broader understanding of social, moral and political issues.

Despite its 54 years in power, Umno continues to amaze Malaysians with its infantile politics which are reminiscent of the children's playground, with shouting, name-calling and bullying.
The Umno high command gave the impression that the general assembly was successful. Their insecurities, and possibility of failure in GE-13, were revealed in their body language and talk.
Some delegates had expressed a lack of confidence in their leaders and a few spoke anonymously, as they feared being ostracized or stripped of their positions.

During the party conference, Umno harped on race, religion and royal issues. It offered little to the rakyat to improve their standard of living, to jumpstart the economy, or reverse the dumbing-down of the education system.

There was no mention of tackling corruption, of waste in public spending, of accountability nor government or corporate responsibility.

Although the auditor-general highlighted cases of financial misappropriation in the recently completed National Audit, Umno was silent on the misuse of public funds. Sadly, ministers vociferously defended these corrupt practices rather than addressed the problem.

Umno is bankrupt of ideas for the greater good of everyone in the nation, irrespective of race and religion. The party is devoid of national integration and long-term vision.

Muhyiddin's rallying call reflects Umno's warped "3R" strategy: "Believe this - the party's struggle is a jihad for the religion, race and country."

Earlier this week, de facto Law Minister, Nazri Aziz, defended the use of his government's Peaceful Assembly Bill (PAB) 2011, which bans Malaysians from exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly. Nazri claimed the PAB would prevent incidents like "May-13".

A member of the public said, "Nazri typifies the minister who speaks before he thinks. Is Umno responding to the May 13 incident four decades later?

"No. The government banned street protests because they are afraid of the public. They fear a Malaysian "Arab Spring".

"They are scared of developments in the middle-east. Furthermore, they are anticipating a march following the outcome of the Anwar Sodomy trial. Most of all, they are terrified of the Bersih 3.0 rally for clean elections."

His colleague said, "The lacklustre, predictable performance of the Umno leadership is indicative of a ruling party that is past its sell-by-date."

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