Friday Jottings: Void treading on oblivion

IT WAS observed that on the rear of a GOKL bus, a free service provided by the City Hall, the Keluarga Malaysia poster was peeling off.

Probably those who pasted it had a premonition that the 9th Prime Minister would  only spend a short stint in office that they put up something which could only last as long, or that it is the sign of times when mediocre material with premium price seems to be preferred.

Either way, it makes it easier for those responsible as anyway, it is time to replace it with the new slogan of “Membangun Malaysia Madani,”the new national slogan introduced by the 10th PM Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Whether the nation’s embrace of the new slogan will propel the nation into greater heights is anybody’s guess but hopefully, the PM’s stint in office is not parallel to the life span of the poster being put up, especially if it is of mediocre material.

But given the PM’s promise that he will not tolerate any leakages and corruption in the civil service and government agencies, a sturdier and more lasting poster material should be in store.

Yet, the pronouncement of combatting corruption and not tolerating abuse of power had received mixed responses.

Critics of the present government pointed out how can they take the PM’s pronouncement seriously when he had appointed a Deputy Prime Minister, a man whom his Pakatan Harapan campaigners had treated as the epitome of corrupt practices and abuse of power, or at least until they needed his help to ensure Anwar finally gets to become PM.

However, the sense of gratefulness to the DPM seems to be wearing thin and in fact, had started to regain some semblance of the original narrative, though yet to be as vitriolic.

From the DAP, the DPM is now considered a burden to Umno and the PH as well.

Writers previously gleeful of PH’s success to form a government after cobbling a post-electoral pact with Umno are now declaring Umno a lousy partner.

It seems they could only hold their peace for a couple of months before returning to what used to be the flavour of their political diet – Umno bashing, justified or otherwise.

In the past, Umno was able to take them on as through Barisan Nasional, they command the majority support and even when they don’t, they command the support of the majority race, the Malay Bumiputra.

Today, Umno is indeed a failed party led by failed leaders who are holding on to their positions strictly to enjoy what last vestiges of power they could share.

The very fact that their leaders are now DAP apologists despite the DAP nonchalantly dismissing their worth, says volume of the present Umno and its leaders.

Making it worst, the refusal for top posts to be contested which in effect meant that they had denied the party probably one last opportunity for renewal after two consecutive terms of diminished presence.

At the rate things are going, Umno is being swallowed whole by Anwar.

It would have been fine if Anwar represents a Malay Bumiputera party with the definite agenda of fostering and defending all the constitutional trappings and provisions, privileges and conventions, real or perceived, accorded to the community.

Anwar is not.

His party is multi-racial, his coalition partners are also multi-racial and even if he and leaders of his coalition partners promise to defend all the constitutional provisions accorded to the community, the DNA is not similar to that of the Malay Bumiputera parties.

Even if Anwar and his partners are committed to the Malay-Bumiputera agenda, their supporters do not share such commitments.

What, to Umno and other Malay-Bumiputera based parties, is affirmative action, is racist and discriminatory to the other end. When quota and privileges are pursuing fairness, merit is the preferred choice of the other.

What is Malay primacy, is deemed Malay supremacy; defending the Malay Bumiputera rights is racist while insisting on imported culture, customs and language is the rights of the minority.

For the Malays who used to vote for Umno until the 14th general election, it was their last bastion, the last line of defence in keeping them assured that the land is still Malay land and Malaysia and its evolution into a multi-cultural entity does not compromise its Malay primacy.

And to the Malays that still pinned their hopes on the Malay parties, it is not about taking back what used to be theirs – wealth, land et al, rather it is to ensure that Malay remains as an entity that has a land to call their own with some semblance of equity in the sharing of the land with the others.

With Umno losing the plot since the 14th election with kleptocrats as leaders, Bersatu entered.

But its association with multi-racial PH did not make it an immediate replacement though managing to secure enough of the Malay votes to give the edge over the BN and to form the government.

In the recent polls, with PH represented by all multi-racial parties and the perceived distrust towards DAP and Anwar, only 11 percent of the Malay voters cast their votes for them.

Umno, a damaged product insisting on letting discredited leaders to lead was rejected and today ended up a dependent of the PH and their leaders on their charity.

The beneficiary was Perikatan Nasional, though Bersatu has declared itself a multi-racial party but by aligning itself to PAS had given the latter the Malay Bumiputera credentials to sponge up the Malays who used to give it all to Umno.

But Bersatu is now under siege with its leaders allegedly committing pecuniary wrongdoings when they were in power.

If Anwar and Umno think that an embattled Bersatu will see the Malays returning to them, they may have read it wrongly.

The 15th polls have shown that the Malays will swing to the party which they think their interest and survival will be protected and when Umno failed to change after a dismal show in the previous polls, the Malays turned to PN.

Of course, PN with PAS’ efficient machinery and seemingly well-oiled for that matter, it was an easy option for the Malays. Except for its long-standing diehards, it was no to Umno which leaders were financially scandalised and no to Anwar for his multi-racial stance and association with the DAP.

New Malay parties including Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Gerakan Tanah Air that was using the Pejuang logo were not in their consideration as they are consistent with previous trends – it was either Umno or PAS.

Now with Umno losing its mojo by its own doing and by its association, the vacuum will be further felt by the Malays, and it will be greater still, if Bersatu suffers serious impairment.

With that, the field is again thrown wide open for Malay parties taking the middle-ground path to fill up the vacuum. There is a caveat though in which unless Umno finds their moral compass and discard their disgraced leaders.

And simply being honest about their “No DAP, No Anwar” clarion call, instead of being like one PH leader who is very adept at political sound-bites.

Otherwise, it’s a void within that vacuum. – pic Bernama 

Shamsul Akmar is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve.