As the 1MDB scandal rages on unabated, the debate seems to have moved onto the question of loyalty – squaring off those supporting Dato’ Seri Najib Razak against those calling for him to resign. These include UMNO members upbraiding each other’s commitment to the leadership of the party, but also BN coalition members and the opposition, all choosing sides drawn upon the battle lines of loyalty to the Prime Minister. In this act of the ongoing drama, loyalty to the Rakyat has been written out of the script for now, no doubt to resume centre stage once the next election looms nearer.
THE CASE FOR NAJIB
For a political party to function effectively there must be hierarchy of leadership. This is an empirical truth, and need not be defended because of its existential reality. As long as Najib remains at the head of the hierarchy the mechanism of control may be wielded at his discretion. Beyond this, little more allowance can be afforded in favour of those rank and file UMNO members that support the Prime Minister – apart from blatant self-interest, self-enrichment, and preservation of power. Harsh indictments, perhaps, it’s but more than well borne out when you consider the case against Najib.
THE CASE AGAINST NAJIB
- The preponderance of evidence of alleged wrongdoing by 1MDB and its penultimate overseer is mounting day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. No amount of attempted and alleged spin by Cabinet Ministers, Attorney General and other Bureaucrats can obscure the data which has been leaked.
- A substantial damage to the constitutional and parliamentary democracy of the Nation has already been done, evidenced by the retreat of the economy, the currency, the stock market, foreign investment, investor confidence, and every other objective measurable means in the public domain.
- The human cost of fanning racism, imprisoning whistle blowers, harassing opponents and ruling by fear and force has yet to be reckoned. But the tab is growing exponentially. No one can tell what the final tally will be, and many in power are lining their pockets as insurance for the dark days ahead.
- Surely the far sighted will discern that blind loyalty to Najib today means an-eye-for-an-eye retaliation tomorrow. Leaving the voting public aside, these culprits will be exposed to the righteous indignation of the leadership that replaces Najib – whenever that day comes –be it UMNO or not.
UMNO – THE BEGINNING AND THE END
- Politicians across the World have rarely been accused of being book smart; but they are abundantly endowed with that elusive quality called “Street Smarts”, an instinct which allows men to rule other men, and organizations to collect and disseminate that most valuable output of human energy: Power. In our little corner of Earth – itself a speck of dust in the Universe – UMNO has emanated the glow of Power uninterrupted since the relatively recent birth of the Nation-State of Malaysia.
- These being incontestable facts, nor it being disputed that UMNO’s rule will one day itself become a passing frame in history’s moving picture, the only question remain when, and, possibly, how.
- If UMNO wants to remain relevant it must not look to Najib, but instead to the people – not only when GE14 nears, but today itself. Else it risks being swept into the annals of history before its time.
FOR THE RULERS, BY THE RULERS
- “The problem is that the three million UMNO members have no voice or rights at all as compared to about 300 UMNO chieftains.” So declaimed Lim Kit Siang, leader of the opposition DAP, himself suspended from the Dewan Rakyat for 6 months for disparaging remarks made against its Speaker.
- He went on to suggest that the UMNO bosses make their decisions largely based on self-interest rather than the common good: “Najib has bought the support of about 300 UMNO chieftains whether at the Supreme Council or at the Divisional chief levels,” and concludes that “the battle between [the UMNO bosses and its Members] will be the major factor to determine the fate of Malaysia.”
- If this is true – as it increasingly to be – then it spells a foreboding doom for UMNO in GE14, and harkens the end of one-party rule in Malaysia. This may be good for democracy, no doubt, and even necessary for the long-term development of the Nation, but, like any journey over unchartered terrain, it risks a rocky road to transition, with the potential for further destabilization in its path.
- Worse, it could call to end the relatively peaceful and orderly environment that the Rakyat has come to rely upon, especially the functioning of the Rule of Law, the basic measure of any civilized society.
MORE GRAFT PLEASE, WE’RE MALAY
- It’s worth asking if the voting public, and Malays specifically, are willing to tolerate corruption on a grand scale – in the billions as it is alleged against Najib. Is it true, as blogger Zaid Ibrahim argues, that “Malays, generally speaking, do not feel the sense of anger or revulsion against leaders who are corrupt, or who steals (sic) from state coffers.” He theorizes that “taking money from unauthorized sources are (sic) something they can tolerate because it is already part of their lifestyle [under NEP].”
- If so, then there’s no need to repeatedly call for Najib’s head; after all we all know the story of the boy who cried “Wolf!” one time too many. But then UMNO party members are the only ones on the side lines on this issue; the momentum for recovery of missing funds is fast gathering momentum.
- The MACC, PAC, AG, IGP, BNM, handicapped as they may be in their probe of a sitting Prime Minister, are on the task. They are joined by Singapore’s MAS, the Swiss OAG, America’s FBI and DOJ, UK’s SFO and CPO, Hong Kong’s HKPA, France’s PN. Everyone from ABC to XYZ is on the case!
- If UMNO doesn’t want any part of it then they stand alone, united in denial. DAP’s leader Lim Kiat Siang will be the lone domestic voice calling for Najib to “refund” the RM2.6 billion to the Treasury.
UMNO REBOOT –THE BOOT
- UMNO’s next political avatar, after ruling for 58 years, will then be to play an essential role as leaders of the Opposition, gifting the Nation its next generation of leaders from the dust of its chaos.
- If the party cannot groom leaders from men and women of intellect and integrity, then at least it will ensure that it returns power to the hands of its rank and file membership, the Rakyat. In the end, Democracy will be served. As a character in a new movie about the 2008 housing market collapse explains: “Fraud has never, ever worked. Eventually things go south. When did we forget all that?”
- This adage will surely prove true unless UMNO takes decisive action to turn back the momentum.
- Will UMNO do it ?