CREATIVE DESTRUCTION – UMNO MAY BE DESTROYED OR SAVED, DEPENDING ON HOW IT UNDERSTANDS ITS FATE IN THE PROCESS
I would like to borrow the term “creative destruction” from a great economist Joseph Schumpeter, who argues that for the economy to be healthy in the long term, it needs cycles of “destruction”, whereby new technologies “destroy” older and obsolete ones; more efficient methods “obliterate” lesser efficient ways, and so on. On the same basis of argument, he also argues that the same thing should also be true to the politic process of any nation. After a group of ruling elites that dominates and hold power in a nation for a prolonged period of time, then there will come a time that they will be “destroyed” by new political forces that will replace them; and new sets of people and systems will dominates the arena for years to come. Such things happen not because of coincidence, but rather it is a healthy and necessary part of the life cycle. This is exactly what is happening in the Nature: forest fires engulf a whole section of forest, only to allow a new set of saplings that eventually grow and becoming a forest again.
The same thing is true for Malaysian politics; we need a creative destruction, whereby we have to let go some of the old systems and beliefs, and accept a new one in order to allow changes to take place. This is imperative for the overall long term health of our political system. I would argue that UMNO (and of course BN), has so far outlived and out do it’s purpose within the Malaysian political system, and therefore it needs to face a “creative destruction” process. And this will happen when they lose the grip over power. This had happened at least in a few states where BN has lost, and I believe will happen at the Federal level in matter of time. I would argue that this will be for the good for the country as well as for UMNO.
For the country, a change is in order to allow “creative destruction” process to bring forth new breed of leaders, new ideas, as well as new innovations to replace the old. For now it seems that Pakatan Rakyat, is providing this new force that will be the “destroyer” of UMNO and BN. It is in their hand then to be more efficient, to provide a more balanced and healthier approach to Malaysian politics. Of course the performance of PR is yet to be seen, in any case PR has to take the tasks to complete the transformation process, for them to be truly accepted as this force of change.
Then what will happen to UMNO? I would argue that UMNO itself should and will go through an internal process of “creative destruction”; namely it got to reinvent itself and change it stance as well as it needs a brand new breed of leaders, replacing the current ones – who are stalwarts, incompetent, self serving and has totally lost the plot. This should happen for UMNO’s own good and long-term health and survival. If anything to be learnt from the fall of the Golkar Party in Indonesia – after a few years of turmoil, many changes took place within the party until eventually they managed to stage a come back in the last election. Today, the party is led by totally new breed of people, which among them is the current Vice President, and they have developed a strong cadre of local leaderships. So what’s wrong with UMNO letting go their grip on power; it can always come back in a more refined and better form.
Part of the process of “creative destruction” is the resistance to change. Workers of old and obsolete factories will resist establishment of new factories. People who are used with old technologies refuse to adopt new technologies out of fear and incompatibility with new technologies. In the same manner, resistance to changes by UMNO is part of the process. And in the same predicament just like the workers or old technologies: they will be “destroyed” together in the wave of changes that finally took place.
However, does not matter how much telling you do, UMNO may not and probably will never realize that they are under the list for destruction; this is so evident from the continuing charade of claims that they should continue to lead because the people are in need of them. A prime example of this is when Khairy announced his candidacy for the post of Youth chief recently, we can see that nothing from what he is saying reflects the fact that UMNO already lost the public support, and becoming more and more alienated. Similarly, the tenacity and unscrupulous behavior at the UMNO branch and division level elections has increase to the level of “politicking” and “uncivilized” behavior that was never seen before. This is despite what Pak Lah is telling the public that him and his UMNO leadership has “heard of the voice of the peoples”. This is exactly as what Schumpeter predicted to be case: the old group will resists and never realizes that they are about to be replaced!
Some quarters believe that there is still chance to save UMNO, as it is in their judgment (or actually hope), that nobody can champion the Malay rights, except UMNO. Without UMNO, the Malays will be left unprotected. I can’t see much things that can be done to save UMNO – as it is rather paradoxical – you have to let UMNO be destroyed if you love UMNO. UMNO has grown so intricately complex that its internal correcting mechanism no longer works and hence only a force destruction may eventually give it another chance at life again. However, that chance will only holds true if UMNO take the right path, otherwise, only one thing is certain: UMNO will go into oblivion!