Sunday, January 18, 2009I am departing from my usual path by giving my thoughts on the result of Saturday's Kuala Terengganu By-Election. I am not writing as a political partisan but as a rambling old citizen of this country and of course as someone who grew up in Terengganu.
I am proud that voters in Kuala Terengganu spoke their mind through the ballot box. Many bloggers, too many to mention, vociferously urged KT voters to send a message to the ruling party. Brendan Behan, the great Irish writer came to mind. When asked what was the message in his latest book, Brendan gruffly retorted "What message? Do you think I am a blardy postman?"
Of course there are things to be learned from this by-election. Difficult as it may be, politicians must change their ways and political parties must review their goals. Be serious with your Post Mortems. Do many Post Post Mortems. Many many moons ago I was with a rombongan where there were many BN members, mostly from UMNO. I asked a friend who was a known active UMNO member why he joined the party. He was honest enough to tell me that he joined not because of idealism. He told me that not many joined UMNO to fight for "Agama, Bangsa dan Negara". How come I was not surprised?
When I was a small boy, I was impressed with the fervour of the UMNO people that I met. In Merang, there was Cikgu Weil who, I guessed, led UMNO in Merang. Cikgu Wei could not straighten his arm properly. This affliction is called "deko" in Terengganuspeak. So, whenever Cikgu Weil raised his arm and shouted "Merdeka", Merang people naughtily responded "Deko! Deko" although they knew what Cikgu Weil, like many UMNO members at that time was fighting for. Like many UMNO members during his time, Cikgu Weil did not become rich. I am sure you know of many more like Cikgu Weil just as you know of UMNO members who became rich solely through the patronage system. This system ("I scratch your back, you scratch mine") should be scratched out. Ditto for Money Politcs. An UMNO blogger, Sakmongkol, who is very arif (wise, expert) wrote about UMNO leaders being elected in the loo which he predicted will be UMNO's Waterloo. On a lower level, I even heard of UMNO people refusing to put up election posters unless they are paid and handsomely, too, thank you. There are legitimate companies that put up posters and buntings for a fee.At least they do not profess to fight for "Bangsa, Agama dan Negara".
I shall not bore you with all the ills that plague UMNO. UMNO members know better. Read their blog.I do not wish to see any political party die in a democratic country. It is good to hear talks about overhauling and re-energizing the party. Even though UMNO does not like suggestions from non-members (or ex-members for that matter, famous or not) I shall offer a suggestion. Start with changing the perception that UMNO is full of corruption, arrogance and selfishness. Be sincere, honest, fair, transparent and altruistic. You might say that I am politically naive to think that there are politicians in Malaysia with those attributes. Maybe I am, but remember Toyota's Tv ad? The idea must be absurd to be successful. Do that and you can win over voters in all parts of Malaysia, not just Kuala Terengganu the next time you contest in an election.