COMMENT Young and aspiring, Nur Jazlan Mohamed is to be watched. Already the deputy home minister, Nur Jazlan stands a good chance to move up, but whether he will win back the support of the country’s younger generation, and earn sufficient respect to lead the country, depends on how he performs this weekend.
He has scored well when he was the public accounts committee (PAC) chairperson, until he was suddenly made a deputy minister.
We can all understand that this was as a result of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak being perceived as having attempted to derail all investigations into these alleged corrupt practices. The young Jazlan was too ambitious that he was prepared to let go of his role in the PAC, despite his earlier promise that his priority was to complete the investigation.
This has, of course, left an indelible mark on his political career. However, this weekend will determine whether he will be able to manage the mammoth Bersih 4 rally and get the thumbs-up from the people. I suggest that he goes to the ground himself to shake hands with the people, and ensure that the entire rally is being facilitated by the police.
The more senior politicians would not even dare to go down to the ground, for fear that they may be bashed up by the people (as in the case of ‘Nothing2Hide seminar), but a young Jazlan may get a warm and positive reception if he is personally on the ground to monitor the situation.
Representing the younger generation of Umno leaders (comparing him with people like Nurul Izzah Anwar, Rafizi Ramli, Hannah Yeoh, Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, Kasthuri Patto, Yeo Bee Yin, Tony Pua), his performance this weekend will determine the future of Umno, especially in the eyes of the younger generation of Malaysians.
Iron fist or good sense?
Bersih rallies will not end this weekend. Rallies of this nature will become part of the Malaysian political scene in the future.
It is a grim political reality that the older generation of Umno leaders have never wanted to face. Everything is lumped into one category: ‘Threat to national security’ (when it is nothing but a threat to their own political positions).
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus has once said, “The only constant is ‘The only thing that is constant is change’.”
If change is inevitable, it is either the ruling regime changes its way of handling the people and learn from the way it handled other peaceful rallies such as the anti-Goods and Services Tax (GST) street rally, or the entire regime will eventually be changed through the ballot box.
If the political, economic and social situation in the country does not improve, I can only envisage that there will be more demonstrations on the streets. Even work strikes may spill into the streets.
It will become part of our Malaysian culture, especially since the voices of the people are often not heard or taken into consideration.
For example, the young university students who staged their ‘sit-down’ protest in front of the Parliament were arrested and remanded for three days, when all they did was to express their discontent about the current prime minister. Most right-thinking Malaysians are with them, and agree with their strong determination to see that Najib step down as the country’s prime minister.
Each time the iron fist is lashed out against the people, the repercussions are humongous when Barisan Nasional has to face the people during the general election. Looking back into the history of this country in the past two decades would do, especially after former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim was sacked in 1998.
Anwar went to jail, but after Bersih 1, 2 and the Hindraf street protest during former prime minister Abdullah Badawi’s time, it turned into a political tsunami in 2008 that even his successor Najib, who tried to win back the Chinese and the Indian votes in 2013, was given the cold shoulder treatment everywhere he went.
Najib, who tried to woo the Chinese vote, called the last general election ‘the Chinese tsunami’, but the truth is that even the Malays were already moving their allegiance from Umno to other political parties. It is just that the Chinese had agreed to vote even PAS against Umno that we see some former Umno strong fortresses being captured by PAS.
A good example is Paya Jeras, but this will not be repeated in the coming election when Gerakan Harapan Baru fields its own candidates.
Bersih 3, with over 500 casualties and arrests, became another nightmare for Najib’s propaganda team to win the people’s confidence. Now, with Bersih 4 in the offing, if Nur Jazlan fails to ensure the safety of the people, Umno and Barisan Nasional will become ‘as good as gone’.
The younger leaders in Umno
People like me are watching the younger leaders in Umno to see what kind of leaders that are being produced by Umno. Will these be in the likes of Najib and Hishammuddin Hussein, who swore by the kris, or those who will crunch figures like PKR’s Rafizi Ramli or a compassionate Nurul Izzah Anwar?
The other young leader who appears to be at least promising and with some brains is Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin. Although it is obvious how he came into the political scene, and we all know that he has his own baggage, there are few who have the level of education that he has achieved.
He can at least be counted on for the task of countering facts with facts in an intelligent debate. This is what educated Malaysians want to see in the political arena, instead of Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali or Isma leader Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman, or even the more recent publicity-seeker Ramesh Rao Krishnan Naidu, whose own credibility is in doubt.
Umno’s future as a political party will depend on these young people. If Nur Jazlan performs badly this coming weekend, Umno is finished. Together with Khairy and Mukhriz Mahathir, if they form a more liberal, intelligent and democratic front within Umno, there may be a chance for Umno to survive to ensure that there is ultimately a democratic two-party system, where, moving-forward, we, the rakyat, will have a choice to pick the best team to govern the country.
The older politicians who are tainted, like Najib with his numerous scandals, are goners. He apparently has not learnt from the Scorpene scandal and the brutal murder of Altantuya Shariibuu, which nearly drowned him and Umno, but he continued to create a big mess with 1MDB and the missing billions.
God is fair, whatever a man sows, that he shall also reap. This is a universal law.
If Umno continues to support him, Umno and the entire ruling coalition will surely have to face the cold war from the people, not forgetting that Umno is only a minority with 3 million members, in this country of 27 million.
Not many people that I meet can see a future in the newly-minted Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi. Some even call him a ‘gangster’; others quote examples of his media statements and shake their heads.
As Umno vice-president and home minister, Zahid had written his letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to lend his support for an alleged illegal online betting kingpin, Paul Phua.
For the ordinary Malaysian, Phua is a great embarrassment to the country, but Zahid vouched that Phua had contributed towards national security.
Incidentally, the Royal Malaysian Police, who are tasked with national security, are not even aware of Phua’s contribution nor of Zahid’s letter.
The latest expose is Zahid’s own brother who is allegedly involved in providing a management system for 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers. I do not need to elaborate further, but people are already talking. If it is allowed to proceed, Zahid will lose his own credibility to lead.
Therefore, if Umno and BN wants to continue to lead this nation, the only hope there is, is with the younger generation of Umno leaders. Whether Nur Jazlan will rise up to the occasion this weekend depends on his personal convictions, and his actions will be given the thumbs-up by the people or be condemned by my fellow Malaysians and along with it, lead to the fall of the entire regime.
I, for one, would not like to see this happening as we would create another monster who will, after many years in power, be infiltrated by the wrong people, and we will be back to square one.
STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.