With the death of Zakaria Md Deros the impoverished rural teenager from Umbai, Malacca, who rose from a railway line crossing-guard at the Port Klang jetty to become an Umno strongman, the beginning of the end of an era for feudal Umno warlords may be at hand.
His death, eerily, was a frightening coincidence to the just concluded general elections that saw the Barisan Nasional wiped out in five states and few more looking rather shaky.
The funeral was decidedly sombre but not as sombre as the face of a crestfallen Ahmad Abdullah Badawi who came to pay his respects. Muhammad Muhammad Taib was, of course, there to placate him that all would be well.
Khir Mohd Toyo had apparently paid his respects during the early dark hours at 3am in the morning. The crowd was exceptionally quiet, perhaps indeed shocked although a supporter ventured a muffled ‘Hidup Pak Lah’.
But the scenery was a reflection of Umno’s divisive policies among its own brethren, the Malays, who deserted them in massive numbers at these elections. The mansion was large, but surrounded by tiny single storey low-cost houses, some of which were minuscule. They belonged to the Malay labour working-class society that toiled at the ports and railways here in Port Klang. Many had retired, perhaps reflecting on a past lost and a future blurred.
The roads to the mansion were hopelessly pot-holed and the drains filled to the brim with a mixture of sewage and pollution from nearby factories and workshops. No, these people under the umbrella of one of Umno’s strongmen did not live the lives of First World citizens. Fifty years of independence has seen to it that even among the bumiputera there is no equity.
Where has all the money gone? Just 10km down the road stood the ghostly PKFZ with its deserted hotel resort standing desolately surrounded by the kampung that once was Pulau Lumut. Just one example where all the money has vanished to. Umno had fallen for that trap where absolute power corrupts and consumes everyone. Only money and personal gain mattered.
That patriotic dream to serve the dispossessed had withered and died sometime after Tunku stepped down. It made itself irrelevant the day it tinkered with its constitution and monkeyed around with money politics and refused to hold fair, open elections in its own party.
As Zakaria’s body was brought to the foyer, his brother profusely asked for forgiveness for his brother’s wrongdoings if any. He was genuinely forlorn and heart-broken that such a tragedy should strike this family.
But one reaps what one sows. Never again must this nation take this slippery road in determining its future leaders by race-based politics. This must decidedly come to an unconditional end. Only the capable and competent must lead.
The Zakaria palace perhaps should not be demolished but made into a permanent museum depicting all the corrupt-laden deals that the ruling parties made that leeched every Malaysian. It must be a place where every school kid must visit and say, "’This house is a testament for everything that was corrupt during the dark days of the BN regime’. Much like Nero’s Pompeii.