By SHAMSUL AKMAR / Pic By BERNAMA
Now that Malaysians are cajoled into getting used to the phrase “Prime Minister-in-waiting”, some are somewhat not in agreement as to what does the phrase actually mean.
Some put it to mean that it is about someone who is waiting to be the Prime Minister and that wait will not be too long from the time the phrase was coined.
But others pointed out that if context is derived from the phrase lady-in-waiting, then it conjures a different meaning though it may very well be the case.
In the tradition of feudal Europe, a lady-in-waiting is simply a personal female assistant attending on a royal woman, generally considered more of a courtesan or companion rather than a servant to her mistress, or so it is defined.
Still in the same context, while seemingly unrelated, is the issue of Umno 2.0 or that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia or Bersatu, is going to turn into Umno if it starts accepting Umno members and leaders en-bloc.
Bersatu to some is Umno-in-waiting or simply put, waiting to be Umno.
Again, it can be argued that Umno-in-waiting should mean it is Umno that now waits on Bersatu, given the fact that the former had lost its leading position and the latter now has its chairman as the Prime Minister.
To compound Umno’s woes is that its leaders are extremely unsettled; a few are facing 1MDB-related charges of committing financial crimes, others are anticipating a similar fate and a number are hedging their fate with the political parties in power, Bersatu included.
On the flip side of the coin, the parties on which the Umno leaders are trying to hedge their future are also quite uncertain of what to do — do they accept the Umno leaders (who are mostly MPs), which will inevitably strengthen their party in so far the numbers’ game is concerned – but knowing fully well such a move risks incurring the wrath of their supporters and party members who can’t stand the sight of some of the Umno personalities.
Truth be told, it is the anger, distrust and hatred towards some of these Umno personalities that led to the nationwide rejection of that party; though some of them managed to retain their seats, apart from seemingly oblivious and unrepentant, and instead still have the smirk on their faces and swagger in their strides.
Their argument that they still hold a substantial number of seats doesn’t hold water as that had been almost halved since the last polls. And that their coalition partners are punished because of their association with Umno is not something to be trivialised as to the widespread rejection of the party.
If such narrative is accepted then Umno, in its current form, has no place in the nation’s political equation, and the inability of its leaders to resign and take responsibility for the failure of the party in the national polls re-affirms it.
So, whither the Umno MPs, and to a greater degree, their members?
The obvious choice would be to turn to Bersatu, a party formed to end Umno’s hold on the nation and its membership were to be made up of mainly Umno members who felt that the old party had lost its bearings under the recent leadership.
Now that some of those who were in the old leadership are still leading it, surely members who were then not convinced of the damage inflicted by the leaders on the party and nation would have changed their minds.
Why is it so important for Bersatu to accept the Umno members and leaders who are without baggage? The end of Umno is Bersatu’s continued existence and only Bersatu can bring an end to Umno.
It may sound Harry Potterish that “either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives”. That is, however, the harsh realities of politics.
At the rate some Umno leaders have been extending the olive branch to Bersatu leaders, it is quite obvious that they had accepted it is a a given, a fait accompli.
Of course there are some of Umno leaders with excess baggage, knowing well that they would be rejected by Bersatu, had attempted to suck up to leaders of other parties in Pakatan Harapan.
It is doubtful these Pakatan leaders can’t see through them. Even if the Pakatan leaders are not wise to such tricks, the stench from the baggage they carry will stink up those they get close to.
As for Bersatu, it has no choice but to eventually accept the “baggage-less” Umno members and leaders into its fold as that is its raison d’etre, the very reason why it was formed.
For those concerned with the formation of Umno 2.0, they should probably realise that Umno, unattended and left to its own device, will not change and may eventually regain a footing in its unrepentant form.
And it will expect the nation to wait on it.
- Shamsul Akmar is the editor at The Malaysian Reserve.