When indignity is just an eventuality


AMAZINGLY, though not surprising, an Umno youth leader had suggested that former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) is returned as the Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman.

His basis, among others, is that since the defeat of BN and Umno in the last general election, Najib has actively taken up the “rebellion” against the Pakatan Harapan government and popularised himself with the electorate through his “Bossku” campaign.

The Umno youth leader is not alone with such an opinion. What makes it surprising is that the views are said with a straight face while revelations after revelations of Najib’s horrendous role in the 1MDB infamy are being churned in court.

While they argued that Najib’s guilt has yet to be proven, the least they could have done was to hold their opinion about him until the case is concluded.

There are a few points that could provide some bearings in deciding whether Najib should be given any leading role in BN and/or Umno.

For one, it was under his watch that BN and Umno lost the nation’s helm after dominating it since independence.

In addition, Umno and BN would have probably survived if the party and members had heeded the call from within for Najib’s removal, long before the election was called and the formation of Umno’s splinter Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

Chances are, there would have been no Bersatu, no Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the prime minister, and BN/Umno and the Opposition would still be in the opposition and not the government.

Then, the issue of the rightwing Malays of opposing Lim Guan Eng being the finance minister and Tan Sri Tommy Thomas as the attorney general would have also not arisen.

However, it did happen and it did because Najib refused to step down despite tell-tale signs that his leadership would drag BN and Umno into the pits.

Today, as Umno and BN try to regroup, instead of moving forward and to rebuild itself, it allows Najib and some of those who are responsible for the party’s defeat to have a major role in their future.

Taking a more right-wing racial and religious stance, Umno in particular, attempts to narrate the current political scenario to be one where the position of the Malays is threatened and in peril if the current government is allowed to continue.

It wooed PAS to an unprecedented collaboration, adding Islam to the narrative, as also being undermined.

Actually, whether the present government had failed to protect the interest of Malay Muslims or that the non-Malays in the government had taken the opportunity to promote their own race agenda can be a subject of debate.

But of more import is that the unity or collaboration between the two leading Malay Opposition parties had failed to address one very core issue — the Malay leadership.

Going by the need to unite and build the numbers while allowing the presence of leaders who had been scandalised and of questionable integrity pushes forth the idea that the leadership must be determined by sheer numbers and not values.

Indeed, in politics, it is a numbers game especially in a first past the post system. That is the reality. However, just

because they have the numbers then the nation is “forced” to accept their leadership even if the leader lacked the integrity and facing dozens of charges for kleptocratic indulgences.

It has become quite embarrassing for the rest of the Malay community having to contend with the fact that in an attempt to unite the highly fragmented Malay community, attention is not given to the quality of leadership it provides.

Simply put, the Malays can’t even come to terms with the fact that they are in a weakened position because their leader was scandalised and lacked integrity. Even if they manage to regain control of the government, they will place the same scoundrels or of similar plumes.

Then, it is a matter of time before the same cycle which led to the circumstances prior to the 2018 polls will recur and the outcome will also be similar.

A line of lyrics translated from a Hindi song — “fate is just a formality” — seems apt as the inability of those who supported Umno to search deep within and rise to meet the

demands of the bigger body of the Malay entity will keep the community caught in the time loop, the Groundhog Day kind.

They refuse to realise that the rejection of Umno is not about the party but the quality of the leadership which has not only become an embarrassment but an antithesis of all that Malay and Islam stood for.

Against the backdrop, a “Kongres Maruah Melayu — Malay Dignity Congress” is going to be held on Sunday, very much aimed at defending the community’s dignity, supposedly challenged and trivialised because of the weakened Malay polity of the current government setup.

Truth, it is said, can be what one wants it to be. However, if truth be told, the indignity suffered by the community will continue for as long as they refuse to accept that leadership and power must be tempered with integrity.

Leadership will be naturally dignified and fate is again, just a formality.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.