Wednesday, October 22, 2008
UMNO stabilising ???
With the announcement of Pak Lah not contesting for the UMNO presidency and with the nominations pouring in for Najib, UMNO members generally appear to feel that UMNO is regaining its strength from the recently "shaken-up-no-direction" feeling it underwent since the March elections.
Many in UMNO, in particular the youth wing, want reforms in UMNO. These grassroots have been clamoring for reforms for a long time and in a very ironical way, the March election results was a welcoming pressure on the top leaders to accede to the reforms wanted by UMNO grassroots. It is an open secret that many UMNO members themselves voted for the opposition as a protest towards what they saw as arrogant, weak, not listening leadership.
Najib is seen as a leader who is firm and will be able to lead UMNO and the Nation. Those who know Najib personally say that he is a listener, hard working and has the ability to grasp details. (Hopefully, he doesn’t change from being a listener!) He also must turn into a hands on Prime Minister who can feel the pulse of the people.
If the nominations follow the current pattern, Najib will emerge strong as the new UMNO president. Najib must appreciate that Tun Dr Mahathir is supporting him and hence he should leverage on Tun’s vast experience in governance. He must then remember and be careful not to repeat past errors of UMNO leadership.
There are even reliable talks that once UMNO elections are over and Najib is in place, many in Pakatan will cross over. This is of course yet to be seen. However, it is understood that Pakatan is not dismissing such talk as baseless. I, of course doubt it. It is political talk as usual.
UMNO must in the long run do away the quota requirement and bonus votes system. This is clearly undemocratic and denies the opportunity of an ordinary UMNO member from contesting, even in protest. The problem of money politics in UMNO must also be seriously addressed. It is not enough for leaders to give a parental like lecture without putting in place mechanisms to prevent the practice. A reform in the political system is needed ( I have written extensively on this elsewhere in the blog)
I have long suspected that money politics became rampant in UMNO with the entry of corporate figures into UMNO. Cronyism is suspected even today, which Najib must be bold enough to stamp it out. Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram (my former lecturer in UKM) and Dr Terence Gomez has done tremendous research on this. Once upon a time, teachers were held in high esteem before "corporate and business" became a new value to be cherished.
As correctly observed by supreme council member Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, "Umno must admit it has a problem with money politics and if left to fester, the party might as well hand posts to the highest bidder".
The bottom line is: UMNO must dare to change and be seen as daring to change. Otherwise..........it is going to be extinct !