ABU - ASALKAN BUKAN UMNO

ABU - ASALKAN BUKAN UMNO

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The R.A.H.M.A.N prophecy and the last Umno prime minister of Malaysia

Sulaiman Kamal | 12:50 AM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Superstition has been cited as a reason for the lasting popularity of the R.A.H.M.A.N prophecy. But another key driver for the belief that upon reaching the final alphabet 'N', Umno's power as the dominating force in Malaysian politics will fade is the obvious lack of successors within the party. The talent vacuum in Umno is very evident, even to outsiders. For decades, the party's elitist leadership had closed the door on its innermost sanctums, restricting entree only to select political families - such as Mahathir Mohamad's, Najib's and his cousin Hishammuddin Hussein's.
Mahathir fulfilled the prophecy that the 4th PM would have a name beginning with the alphabet 'M'. He was handed the post by Hisham's dad, Hussein Onn who was the 3rd premier and fulfilled the alphabet 'H' in the code. Najib's father Abdul Razak was the 2nd prime minister as denoted by the alphabet 'A'. The first Malaysian premier, Tunku Abdul Rahman, whose name kicks off the R.A.H.M.A.N prophecy, did not have a male heir. Another faction that tried hard to break in but was roundly rejected was 5th premier Abdullah Badawi, who tried to promote his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin but to no avail.
Denial mode
Through the years, whenever critics highlighted the issue of brain drain and its negative impact on the economy, Umno ignored the matter because it knew that it was to blame for promulgating racist policies that shut out the non-Malays in all areas, forcing millions to migrate to other countries including neighboring Singapore.
When analysts pointed out the same problem within its party hierarchy, Umno dismissed talk of a talent vacuum as being rumors stirred up by its political rivals. But today, with the 13th general election looming, and the R.A.H.M.A.N code exhausted, Umno has no choice but to face the truth that its own electoral vulnerability stems largely from the lack of talent in its succession ladder.
For whatever reasons, Mahathir last week highlighted this weak spot (scroll below for story), finally admitting that Umno lacked "smart Malays". Now, this is a serious setback because Najib and wife Rosmah are not popular with the people. In fact, the thought of the couple heading the country for another 5 years should Umno-BN win GE-13 is dreaded by a large section of the population.
Even though it is obviously too late in the day to replace Najib as the Umno president, if he fails to win more seats than his predecessor Badawi it will be the curtains for him. Najib may go all out to get re-elected at party polls due to be held later this year, but he will still be ousted if he falters at GE-13. Daim Zainuddin, a former Finance minister and the second most powerful warlord in Umno after Mahathir, has already warned Muhyiddin or some other 'challenger' will replace Najib in such an event.
The bungling cousins and the plodding DPM
Whether Daim has called it correctly remains to be seen, but the views of a large number of Malaysians is that the plodding Muhyiddin can hardly be considered as 'talented material'. At 64, he has not been able to carve for himself the stature of a leader. Many say the former Johor chief minister is only fit to be the side-kick of the prime minister. He can only co-star and not be the star. Muhyiddin's main problem is his lack of grassroots support, even in his Johor home state.
Hisham and Najib are direct cousins. Their mothers are sisters and wives to the second and third prime ministers of the country. That coincidence may be some sort of national or even world record but sad to say, the eldest sons of the two remarkable women have not been blessed with much talent despite being born with silver spoons.
Is this a fair assumption? It is actually easy to test, just ask the following questions. Who is smarter - Najib or Hisham? Who is less lazy - Najib or Hisham? Who can think on his feet and assimilate ideas and concepts more swiftly - Najib or Hisham? Who could better introduce reforms in Umno and Malaysia - Najib or Hisham? Who has the courage to stand up to Mahathir and tell him to shut up - Najib or Hisham?
No, they may not be peas in a pod but they are not different in values and qualities. Like his cousin, Hisham is where he is because of his father. Hisham is not his own man and so far has done nothing substantial that has left a positive impact on society despite having been in the Cabinet for more than a decade. Hisham was accused of incompetency when he was the Education Minister and launched a botched computer labs program for the schools. Not only was there insufficient funds but till now, there has been scant result.
Hisham also failed to upgrade the universities, and under his charge, there was no progress in the educations system. When he left after being promoted to the Home Minister's post in 2009, Malaysian students and graduates were no better off than before.
What does Umno do now, how and who will lead it back on track
With such under-performance, how can Hisham expect to be 'given' the PM's chair just because it is 'his turn' after Najib? And how can Najib expect to retain the Umno presidency if he fails to stem the rise of the Pakatan Rakyat led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
In the past, because the feudal mentality was still strong in Umno, members would swallow and accept whatever was decided by their elitist leaders. But with the shrinking Umno gravy train and Najib's clearly under-par capabilities, many are afraid the party will lose everything in GE-13. No one expects Umno members to obediently toe the line as they used to any more.
The problem is, what does Umno do now? How does it get back on track, how should it move and where to go? The person with answers and who can persuade the majority of the party that he has the solutions is the leader that Umno is looking for.
A less than star-studded lineup
Mahathir's son Mukhriz is worse than Hisham. Despite his father fervent wish to push him into the top echelon, Mukhriz has failed to impress Umno members, who see him just as the rest of Malaysia does - a youngest son who has to depend on his father's influence in Umno.
Even with his father still alive and making the occasional headline, Mukhriz has not been able to make a name for himself. Should Mahathir one day pass on, that would surely spell the political end for Mukhriz. As the deputy minister for international trade and industries, Mukhriz has been undistinguished. Most ordinary Malaysians won't even be able to name the ministry he is attached to, and still think of him as Mahathir's youngest boy - the one with the premature balding patch rather than as an effective and contributing minister in his own right.
In the Wanita and Youth wings, both heads - Shahrizat Jalil and KhairyJamaluddin - have been tainted by the RM250 million NFC debacle. The door has already been closed on both of them.
Shahrizat's deputy Kamilia Ibrahim might be able to take over her Cabinet and Wanita posts, but that might be the furthest extent of Kamilia's talent. Can Kamilia lead Umno out of the woods, given the seriousness of its problems? Would she ever dare to call for reforms and even threaten a breakaway from the main wing if Najib refuses to implement reform, for example? How can she lead Umno then?
Former Wanita head Rafidah Aziz might still be hankering for a Senatorship and Shahrizat's Cabinet post which the latter is due to give up on April 8. But because of Rafidah's own corruption-scarred record, chances are she might not even be able to defend her long-held Kuala Kangsar parliamentary seat - what more aspire to reform Umno?
As for Tengku Razaleigh, the Gua Musang MP and perhaps the only Umno leader who commands public respect for his integrity and principled stand, he won’t be able to make it so long as Mahathir and the other warlords are still breathing. Ku Li will be sabotaged the moment they see him staging a political comeback. Why? Because Ku Li would push for reforms, he would dare take the bull by the horns. And it is a sad reflection that he - at 72 - is the only one in Umno with such courage. But Ku Li cannot do it alone and he simply has too many enemies in Umno to be able to pull it off.
The 'younger' ones like Mustapha Mohamed have good intentions but no gumption. Despite having a very clean record, Mustapha is not even seen as a real politician. If he does get to the president's chair, it would only be in a seat-warmer capacity and he would be controlled by either Mahathir or Daim or both. Despite being in the Cabinet for more than decade, Mustapha still has an academician streak and at best he is just a CEO of a corporation and nothing more. He works and does what has been entrusted to him and that is it.
Mustapha does not care about anything else and has no opinion on the matters that are important to Malaysia.To test if this is a fair assumption, ask Tok Pa what he thinks about corruption and the future of Malaysia. Don't be surprised if his answer is - what corruption? In short Mustapha is not a leader, he is a follower.
Information minister Rais Yatim used to have a good reputation. A law doctorate, he has lost the respect of the public but not because of the maid-rape accusations which he has denied. It is because he has made himself completely subservient to the Najib administration. Like Mustapha, if asked to comment on the corruption in the Najibadministration, Rais might also reply - what corruption?
In short, Rais will be swayed by the tides in Umno and he will flip-flop even more and at a faster speed than Najib. Moreover like Tengku Razaleigh, Rais too won’t be able to make it to the top so long as Mahathir is still alive. Both men fell out with Mahathir and left Umno to form Semangat 46 in the 1980s before returning a few years after.
Ali Rustam, the Malacca Chief Minister, was found guilty of money politics by the Umno disciplinary board. He has also made several blunders in running Malacca so much so that he may want to keep these under wraps. As a result, he may prefer to stay in the state government rather than make a challenge for the central leadership. Even if Ali had no 'baggage', he is good only to the extent that his networking within Umno and his grassroots support are superb. But does he have the vision to modernize Umno? For example, has Ali Rustam even heard of the aspirations of the Gen-Y, or can a man who is himself guilty of money politics be able to make a convincing push to eradicate corruption in Umno and Malaysia?
Current defense minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was once a fast-rising star in Umno and one of Anwar Ibrahim's most strident supporters, like Muhyiddin Yassin who was the first to visit Anwar after the latter was sacked by Mahathir. But because of politics, both men had to turn their backs on their friend. It was obvious why they had to do so, because they had 'baggage' that Mahathir could seize on and make them renounce Anwar.
As a result, Zahid is not trusted by many in Umno anymore. If he can turn his back on Anwar, how loyal could he ever be to anyone else? Does he deserve to be a leader in the first place? Make no mistake, Zahid is no fool. He is very aware about this and knows his limit, which is why he has been accused of being more interested in ensuring all the shopping sprees in the Defence Ministry go through while the BN is still the government. Like all Umno politicians, he wants to reap as much as he can from the party.
Mohd Shafie Apdal is one of the vice presidents who only has support in Semporna Sabah. He is more interested to be the Sabah Chief Minister where he is more at home than to head the federal government even though Sabah Umno has the most number of members in the country.
Saifuddin Abdullah, the deputy minister for Higher Education, has made a name for himself for being fair-minded. But he is too junior and whether he can break through the Umno internal glass ceiling remains to be seen. Perhaps guys like Saifuddin will stand a better chance if Umno loses GE-13 and implodes. Because it would be during the healing process that young and worthy Turks can make the most impact.
Umno's existing prerequisites
What is Umno's main criteria for members to become leaders of note and worth? Going through some of the forums in the pro-Umno blogs, it appears that the prerequisites are pretty simplistic but extremely shocking, decadent and completely ruthless. Perhaps, this is why Umno needs to implode before it can heal itself.
Top on the list is knowing how to be 'dirty'. Yes, dirty politics ala Mahathir Mohamad and Najib Razak is part and parcel of Umno culture. Such tactics are in fact admired by the smaller chieftains, who dream of being able to lord over the entire country and be bowed to as they march to the national Treasury to fill their pockets with largesse with impunity.
You don't even have to aspire all the way to the top post. Once you head a division, the return is already limitless, it seems.
How to get elected at divisional level
Firstly, get as many supporters as possible to attend the division's annual general meeting so that you can secure more votes. Those whom you invited or arranged to be present will surely vote for you.
Then get the support of the branch chiefs who would in turn persuade their branch representatives to support you. Offer incentives to the branch chiefs and reps, such as trips to Medan or even the costly Umrah pilgrimage package. Support their projects, give cash incentives and always invite them for dinners at high-class hotels.
Also, remember you can’t make it alone, so assign 'Gurkhas' to lobby and do the legwork for you.
How to get elected as president
Firstly, you must promote yourself and bring down others – slandering, back-biting and sabotage are the recommended strategy.
Then get support from as many leaders as possible by promising them your support them when it is their turn to contest for positions.
Lastly, don’t forget the most vital prerequisite - you must be willing to invest some cash to bribe the division and branch chiefs, their representatives and so on, especially those who currently do not support you. For a divisional chief, the running price is said to be RM10 million.
Conclusion
So, given such a culture and such stiff financial requirements, how can there not be brain drain in Umno, how can there not be corruption in the party?


As the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Against such a background, it would only be odd if the R.A.H.M.A.N prophecy did not come true.
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