Malaysiakini Opinion

How did Umno get it so wrong?

Phar Kim Beng  |  Published on  |  Modified on

COMMENT | If one looks at the history of Umno, it has always been a party that gets it wrong before it can get things right. Only this time it may not have a second chance.

The refusal of Umno to go multiracial, even when it enjoyed all advantages to further the interest of all, led it to operating in silos.

It also enjoined others to do the same, leading to a host of parties that were racial and ethnocentric, which invariably, allowed the elites of each community to help themselves to the largess of the state, before they reach out to assist others with trinkets.

Even then the help is offered just before elections, producing the toxic politics of condescension that voters hated but quietly withstand

Of course, on May 9, even with heaps of questionable money at its disposal, it got it horribly wrong on the "mother of all elections.". The house of cards came tumbling down. But, to be sure, the signs were there.

I had warned on March 30 in South China Morning Post that a Malay tsunami was forthcoming (Najib’s the election favourite, but is there a Malay tsunami coming). I also warned that the national debt was a major issue (The trillion-ringgit puzzle facing Malaysian voters). In fact, I wrote that the size of the Malaysian government was getting too big (Najib can’t afford to keep his civil servants – or lose them).

On Jan 18, I argued that Dr Mahathir Mohamad still has it (At 92, does Mahathir have enough left in him to stun Malaysia?), which again I argued to the contrary.

While the reasons for Umno and BN's defeat can be many, with party Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin admitted he sugar-coated his narrative to please Najib Razak, one reason stood out. The government was becoming too cartoonist; which allowed Zunar to paint them in caricature, which they of course responded, with serious threats of long imprisonment.

But the dysfunctional nature of Najib was superficial grandstanding, which to the very last day of the campaign period on May 8, had him promising even more handouts...

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