IF PUBLIC and political reactions to the issue of the “invisible” RM6 billion littoral combat ships (LCS), is any measure, it is doubtful that Umno or Barisan Nasional (BN) is as keen as it was for early polls as it was yesterday.
While its cybertroopers and propaganda machine are working overtime to pass the blame on to others for the erupting scandal, all fingers are still firmly pointed towards Umno or BN leadership prior to the change of government in 2018.
Analysts, politicians and pundits, who less than a few months ago had dismissed corruption and abuse of power as key issues for the next general polls, now seem to be of the opinion that the LCS scandal, reeking with such practices, may very well determine the outcome of the polls.
In other words, a new 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) has been uncovered.
The only difference, this time around, is that the LCS is being widely discussed, debated and dissected, publicly.
That is very much unlike the 1MDB scandal which saw pliant editors and journalists, grovelling academics and analysts as well as paid fly-by-night pundits, dismiss the plundering if not outrightly attempt to cover-up the scandal.
The government then, backed by Cabinet members and all available apparatchiks, worked overtime to exonerate those culpable and instead, threatened and arrested those exposing it.
This time around, with the LCS, everyone, but everyone who has an opinion on it is giving their two cents worth and they include 1MDB era of pliant editors and journalists, grovelling academics and analysts as well as the paid fly-by-night pundits.
It is doubtful that the current government whose prime minister (PM) is from Umno or BN would want, or even dare attempt, to arrest those exposing the LCS scandal.
Obviously, the fall of the Umno or BN government in 2018 was curtains down for such high-handed, autocratic and demagogic acts.
The Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad-led Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, despite some criticisms, had somewhat ensured that Malaysia would not return to that path, at least for as long as the plunderers and kleptocrats did not return to power.
While the current government is also Umno- or BN-led, it is a hybrid of sorts, incapable of standing on its own and is dependent on mutations from other parties and coalitions.
As such, it doesn’t make sense for any Malaysian, except maybe those who used to make money out of nothing, the invisible type, to want to return power to the kleptocrats and plunderers.
That, however, is what was forecasted a while back, before the LCS scandal erupted, that the polls will see the return of an Umno with the kleptocrats as puppeteers, after biding their time until their cases are cleared and/or pardoned.
The sentiments seemed to be quite widely shared, chief among them, and yes, the pliant editors and journalists, grovelling academics and analysts as well as paid fly-by-night pundits or the 1MDB era.
Nevertheless, LCS seems to offer renewed hopes that Malaysians will not tolerate the rampant corruption and accepts that it is the scourge of the nation’s progress and wellbeing.
But such hopes without strategy and focus will not amount to anything as witnessed in the Johor and Malacca polls.
In other words, despite public outrage over reports on how the plundering of billions of public funds through the vile and sordid manoeuvrings through 1MDB, at least one-third of the Malay electorate are still solidly behind the kleptocrats and their ilk.
That established, the only way to break the shackle-hold is by taking the battle to Umno.
And that was exactly what happened in the 2018 polls when Dr Mahathir formed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
Then, PH partners supported it knowing fully well that only through such strategy could they finally defeat Umno or BN.
Unluckily, some of the racists in PH only saw the Malay votes as tokens for them to get to power. Hence, their strong criticisms when Dr Mahathir, the then PM, decided to attend the Malay Dignity Congress.
They call Dr Mahathir a racist who attended a racist gathering.
But they were not averse to Dr Mahathir attending Malay-organised events and functions prior to the 2018 polls. Neither Dr Mahathir nor the Malay gatherings were racist.
It can only be concluded that the Malay votes were necessary but Dr Mahathir must not meet them after the election as no votes were then required.
Today, Dr Mahathir has again worked on getting a new Malay-based movement, dubbed the Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA), specifically to take on Umno.
And again, racist writers and Malay apologists, had come forth denouncing it.
There is no difference in strategy between GTA and Bersatu. In fact, GTA is much more inclusive of the Malays, inviting not only political parties opposed to corruption and abuse of power, but also like-minded NGOs and individuals.
The objective is to have a force strong enough to take on Umno in some 120 parliamentary seats in the peninsula.
Whether they succeed or otherwise is anybody’s guess. But if anyone cared to look into the movement deeper, it is reminiscent of how the Malays joined together to oppose the Malayan Union.
It was at a time when the Malays were without political parties or proper political representation and their identity was represented by the Malay Rulers who then had chosen to oblige the British for fear of losing their thrones.
The Malays then, divided by numerous groupings and organisations, knew they could not depend on anyone other than themselves. It was a case of their survival as a people and they rallied among themselves and finally formed Umno which is originally an amalgamation of different groups with different interests and objectives.
Their only common denomination was that they were Malay or Muslim and that they felt their survival was threatened. They put their differences on hold and focused on the biggest threat to their survival — the Malayan Union.
At this point in time, the biggest threat for the Malays is the corrupt Malay leaders and their supporters. They have to rectify it themselves and only then can they rediscover their leadership and their direction. It is about race but about its survival and not supremacy.
Only racists and Malay apologists think otherwise.
Shamsul Akmar is the Editor of The Malaysian Reserve.