When the roots of a tree is rotting, in matter of no time, the tree will die. Unless drastic action is taken to stop the rots, nothing can be done to save the tree. This is the exact predicament that UMNO is currently undergoing. When I joined UMNO in 1995, I already saw the rotting of UMNO right at the grassroots level and it rise up all the way to the top echelon of the party. I have spoken in various occasions of the need for UMNO to revive its struggle, and redefine itself, to continue to be relevant in the society. All of these talks fall on deaf ears. This was during Mahathir’s era. Things got worse under Abdullah Badawi, as it becomes clear to the people in post Mahathir UMNO, that he/she is licensed to do anything under the name of the party. Mahathir started many practices within the party, that literally justifies any action that he deemed fit; this is then currently being perfected by the UMNO people that anyone can do what he/she want, and he/she can create any justification of these actions that he/she seems fit. It started by one person, now it is the practice at all levels of the party. In another word, UMNO has “perfected” what has been started by Mahathir.
Take for example, the current so called “transition plan”, Mahathir started the practice by stopping any contest for the top posts and by anointing his successor; and hence established the tradition of the top posts being held by the few, who would then work together to pass over the baton of leadership among themselves. When he stepped down, he was adamant in asking Abdullah to appoint Najib as the number two, in a way to continue the tradition. This is exactly what Abdullah is trying to do with Najib, and is using the arguments that this is the UMNO tradition and should be accepted and respected by the party. I guess, the same thing is going on now with the UMNO youth: Khairy, being the number two guy before is well positioned and touted to take the UMNO Youth Chief, almost automatically. If things goes by UMNO tradition, he will win the position without much efforts, as he is in almost absolute control over the delegates using the same arguments of smooth “transition”.
The practice of stifling dissent within UMNO was started by Mahathir, and now it becomes a culture within UMNO under Abdullah. In any case, if anyone makes noises or dissenting, he will be well awarded with positions or lucrative contracts in order to keep him mum and loyal. On the other hand, any dissent or disloyalty will be punished by way of threats of investigations on corruptions (which I presume, every one of them has sufficient deeds to make the threat to be real). After a while, everyone learns the tricks, and hence it is better to make enough noise in order to get what you want, but at the end of it, do not go too far, as you might be punished for it. This is exactly what has been accomplished by Ahmad Ismail recently. He make enough noise to attract top UMNO leaders attention, but then, we never know what he actually bargains for himself at the end.
Now there are talks of deferring the UMNO general election at the central level, in order to provide enough time for “transitions program” to be sorted out. This is happening while the division levels are about to start their divisional meetings, which I believe is already problematic; as too much “politicking” as well as “illegal practices” were done in the name of the party has been committed by the divisional leaders during the branch meetings. By now scores of reports has been submitted by opposing groups to the ACA on charges of money politics, and numerous reports being submitted to the UMNO disciplinary committee for wrongful actions. I do not posses the exact numbers, but I can assure you that they are staggering.
While many are still hoping that UMNO may be able to pull itself through and come out with better solutions to its leadership transition problems, and could continue to lead the country, the plots within UMNO is actually getting thicker by the hour. The party has actually rot to the core, and it is mired in its polemics and drowning in its own problems. Years of handed down decisions has rendered the party to be familiar only with “packaged solutions”. This is hard to be achieved in the current scenario, as everyone feels that they should be part of that package. Years of stifling dissent, has drain UMNO of intelligent brains, and what we have today is bunch of non-performers, acting and behaving like they are the saviors of the society. Without much brain power, whatever the solutions they took, it will ended up with incompetent people who are never being tested, entrusted with leadership positions – which is the actual origins of the problem in the first place.
This quagmire will continue within UMNO regardless of what they come out with in the next few weeks or months. UMNO is so weak and so disorganized internally that their problems now is becoming a burden on the country. Confidence level by the public and international community on the current government is already untenable; we will continue to hear bad news after another, day after day, until and unless we stop this bleed on the confidence. Today we hear the total level of FDI net outflow of almost RM10 billion for the last month alone, and we are not sure what else will come tomorrow.
UMNO should realize (I doubt it ever will), that it is already sunken, and hence it should dismantle all the undemocratic practices within the party immediately – and go ahead with the annual general meeting as well as party elections as scheduled. This will put the party to its fit and proper test quickly, and not to keep the people waiting for another six months or one year, because it is unfair for the people (since UMNO is holding the power, and the results affects the whole nation). The probability of this happening however is unfortunately extremely remote.
If this is not happening (which I presume so), then those people with conscience should abandon the party and joined the opposition in forming the new government as soon as possible. That should be the action of a responsible leader who acts in the interest of the people and the nation. Let us see among them, who deserves a second chance, otherwise, we all should dumped all these people who are serving only their own self interest and putting the future of our children at perils. Otherwise, another way is to just dissolve the parliament and call for a fresh mandate, and see whether the people still have confidence in them or not.
In the matter of next few months we then shall see with our naked eyes whether the UMNO tree has rotten and about to fall or I may be wrong in my assumptions. In any case, the country should move on, and hence I urged that the opposition to take over the country as soon as possible. If that cannot be achieved because of the obstacles placed by UMNO, then demand for a fresh general election so that give people chance to determine their future.