Rashid's strategy is so wrong, but it is all right

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“You have the army of mediocrities followed by the multitude of fools. As the mediocrities and the fools always form the immense majority, it is impossible for them to elect an intelligent government.”

– Guy de Maupassant

COMMENT | Many people have been emailing me asking me what I thought of Bersatu's vice-president and former Election Commission chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman’s “by hook or by crook” election strategy.

Apparently, this kind of thinking is verboten (forbidden by the authority) in this New Malaysia. Maybe I’m wrong, but maybe Rashid knows more about Malay politics, the Umno base, and how to win in dodgy elections than his critics give him credit for.

I read everything Nathaniel Tan writes, but arguing that Umno did not fail because of a few bad apples, but instead from a culture that corrupted every level of the party’s leadership is misguided. The reality is that Umno did not fail because of some systemic meltdown; it failed because Najib Abdul Razak did not play nice with current Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Furthermore, the leadership was in denial of how unpopular Najib was among the base. If the Umno leaders had paid attention to the grassroots, they would have understood that a certain segment would be more than happy to shift to Mahathir because they viewed the autocracy of Najib and his family detrimental to the ‘Malay’ community. If Umno had rejected Najib instead of propping him up, I doubt we would be having this discussion.

Speaking the truth

Rashid was just saying what most Bersatu political operatives are thinking. He was not saying anything controversial. He was merely speaking for the leadership and the base, even though the narrative is that he was just speaking in his personal capacity.

You really think that someone like Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has a finger on the pulse of the agitated Malay electorate, or the guts to acknowledge the Umno system without resorting to the kind of euphemisms that people like Rashid have no time for or, to be honest, understand?

In questioning Rashid’s appointment as a vice-president, lifetime Bersatu member Zaeinal Abidin Omar asked: “Some of us members have gone through the forest and bushes in our struggle for religion, race and country, is Rashid prepared to do that?”

Think about that line for a moment. What the hell does "struggle for religion, race and country" mean, anyway? Well, it means perpetuating a system of privilege and discrimination to maintain hegemonic racial, political, social and economic power. There has never been a struggle of emancipation from government handouts and religious orthodoxy. In fact, the struggle has been to ensure that both are sustained – even if it means a change of government, just not ‘Malay’ politics...

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