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The fall of the Grand Old Party

May 21, 2018

“Arrogance and hubris sealed their downfall”

* Revamp or be Damned!
* His Majesty’s loyal opposition
*
“Kita bodoh kerana menafikan realiti”
* Sekarang Umno kena tiru model parti lain
* The end of Umno’s hegemony  

Source

“I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said –‘Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert … Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’”

– Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias”

COMMENT | On May 9, the unthinkable, unimaginable happened.

Umno, the Grand Old Party of Malaysia, lost the power that it held for 60-odd years.

Its’ coalition partners, MCA, MIC and Gerakan were already on a losing trajectory in terms of Parliamentary seats. But Umno did better in 2013 compared to 2008. It won 88 seats in 2013, an improvement from the 79 seats in 2008.

Yet Umno, the backbone of BN, lost 34 seats. It now only has 54 seats in the Dewan Rakyat.

What is worse is that Umno now can no longer claim that it represents the voice of the Malays. The Malays throughout the country have rejected the parti keramat (party of the people).

The writing has been on the wall for a long time. Despite increasing the number of parliamentary seats it won in 2013, Malay support for Umno has seen a downward trend ever since Reformasi.

The 2004 general election was an anomaly, brought about by the feel-good factor of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s early years of premiership.

Younger Malay voters do not feel the same attachment to Umno as the older generation.

Then came Najib Abdul Razak. The already unpopular prime minister was hit by allegations of massive corruption in the middle of 2015.

His unpopularity, coupled with the GST, and the aura of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, proved to be formula needed to tip the scales in the Pakatan Harapan’s favour.

And Umno never saw the ‘tsunami rakyat’ (people’s tsunami) coming.

According to journalists, right up to the day before voting, Umno was confident that BN would win 130-140 seats. They did not contemplate at all the possibility that they might lose.

That is how much Umno was out of touch with its own electorate. It could not read the signs; the quiet resolve of the Malays to teach Umno a lesson. Umno thought that despite everything, Malays would not dare to change.

They were confident of winning because of several factors.

Through the Elections Commission, they ensured that boundaries were delineated to give them the advantage in marginal seats by increasing the number of Malay voters.

In their calculations, Malay voters would continue to back the BN, and thus allowing them to reclaim seats lost to the opposition prior to this.

They thought that they could regain that coveted two-thirds majority because of the unfair delineation.

Their cybertroopers and supporters ran a campaign of fear. Fear of change, fear of the ‘DAP-led opposition’, and fear of loss of Malay political power. Even the then-Umno president lowered himself to stoke these racial fears.

They think that doling out ‘sweets’ and promises a day before the elections would sway some voters to back them.

Yet Malays, who for decades had backed them, abandoned them. Malays put aside whatever fears they may have, and voted for hope. The Malay wave caused a Malaysian tsunami.

Arrogance and hubris sealed their downfall.

It could have been so different. If only they read the signs. If only they had listened to the ground. If only they had not decided to defend to the hilt the most despised Umno leader in the history of the party. If only they had acknowledged that they had a lot of problems.

If only they realised that the Malays no longer see them as indispensable.

As Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said, if only they were brave enough to tell the truth to the top leaders.

Yet instead of speaking up, Khairy himself starred in a video with Najib before the polls, with both donning cute matching jerseys.

For the sake of Malaysia, Umno needs to rise up again. To do that, it must shed its hubris and arrogance, and start becoming a party for all Malaysians again. It must be the Umno of yore, not the Umno Baru of warlords, patronage and extreme right wing nationalism.

Or else nothing else will remain of this Grand Old Party, except for its once proud history

SYAHREDZAN JOHAN is a lawyer.

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From → Malaysia Upclose

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