MP SPEAKS | There are at least three things to look for in the Umno delegates’ meetings being held this week.
First is whether Umno will embrace, ignore or repudiate the legacy of Najib Abdul Razak, particularly with regard to the 1MDB international money-laundering scandal and the infamy, ignominy and iniquity of a global kleptocracy.
When Tunku Abdul Rahman took over the Umno leadership from Onn Jaafar in 1951, he had to sell his house in Penang to fund the running of the party.
Contrast this with the prime minister-cum-Umno president rejected by the electorate in the 14th general election - the boxes of designer handbags and dozens of bags filled with cash and jewellery taken away by police in raids at properties linked to his family, which contained RM114 million in cash in 26 currencies and Birkin handbags each worth up to tens of thousands of ringgit.
Tunku’s integrity was undoubted and largely unchallenged.
Najib is a different kettle of fish altogether, who is now mentioned in the same league of kleptocrats like the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos and Indonesia’s Suharto.
A video of five ‘first ladies’ who have notoriously squandered the wealth of their people is making the rounds on social media.
The five featured are Asma al-Assad, wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; Grace Mugabe, wife of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe; Marie Antoinette, queen of France in the 18th century whose opulence and extravagance triggered the French Revolution; Imelda Marcos, wife of Ferdinand Marcos; and Rosmah Mansor.
Najib has made Malaysia doubly infamous.
Will the Umno delegates’ meetings this week redeem Malaysia’s reputation and integrity?
There are three views as to how to handle the question of Najib’s legacy on 1MDB and global kleptocracy – to duplicate his position of denial and even ignorance, to ignore the whole question, or to take a belated stand on the 1MDB and global kleptocracy by repudiating these abuses of power and excesses.
The faceless and headless Umno Strategic Communications unit set up after GE14 is already busy advocating the first option – to defend Najib’s record on integrity and the fight against corruption.
Will the Umno delegates’ meetings dare to say no and to adopt categorical and no-nonsense motions to denounce the 1MDB scandal and Malaysia’s dishonour as a global kleptocracy?
Will there be an inventory from all Umno leaders, individuals, divisions and branches on the amounts of the 1MDB monies they had received from Najib, and will they all come clean and donate whatever ‘dirty money’ they had received from 1MDB to Tabung Harapan Malaysia to help pay the RM1 trillion national debt?
Politics of hate, fear and lies
Umno was the main peddler of the politics of race, religion, hate, fear, lies and fake news in the run-up to and during GE14.
On the eve of the polls, Najib repeated for the umpteenth time the big lie that GE14 is a battle between the Umno-led BN and the DAP-led Pakatan Harapan – that Dr Mahathir Mohamad was being paraded as the leader and icon of the opposition which was just a charade as the DAP and I were the real power behind the scenes.
Would the Umno meetings this week own up to the downright fake news and false information which it unleashed before the general election, express regret and contrition for such irresponsible and divisive tactics, and commit themselves to clean, honest and moral politics and total rejection of such vicious and irresponsible politics?
For 61 years, as the lead political party and then as the hegemon in the ruling, Alliance/BN coalition, Umno failed Tunku’s Malaysian dream for the nation to be “beacon of light in a difficult and distracted world,” leveraging on the strength and assets of our diversities of race, religion, language and culture.
He wanted to transform Malaysia into a top nation in every field of human endeavour, and be an example to the world of a united, harmonious, successful, progressive and prosperous nation.
Instead, we became a rogue, kakistocratic and kleptocratic state, where the concept of ketuanan Melayu degenerated into ketuanan Umno, when it should have been developed into ketuanan Malaysia.
Will the Umno meetings this week demonstrate to Malaysians that it will become a political force for the future, and not a throwback to the past?
In the national transformation of Malaysia over the next few decades, is Umno going to lead Malays towards a great Malaysian tomorrow or will the opposite take place?
For the first time in its history, Umno has become like the other BN coalition parties like MCA, Gerakan or MIC, where it secured less votes than its party membership.
Umno claims to have a total membership of 3.6 million members, but the total votes polled by Umno candidates in GE14 came only to 2.5 million.
The polls saw Umno-BN ejected from the corridors of power in Putrajaya, with Umno winning the least number of parliamentary seats under five previous prime ministers and Umno presidents – Abdul Razak Hussein, Hussein Onn, Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
A candidate for Umno deputy president, Annuar Musa, previously said a preliminary analysis of GE14 results showed that Umno is still the preferred choice of the majority of the Malay voters.
I do not believe that Malay voters who voted for Umno wanted Malaysia to be a global kleptocracy, just as I do not believe that the Malay voters who voted for PAS wanted its president Abdul Hadi Awang to be a ‘kingmaker’ propping up a global kleptocrat.
Now the truth of the enormous crime of kleptocracy and turpitude of the 1MDB scandal are being revealed to Malaysians, all those who were misled to vote for global kleptocracy would have realised how gravely they had been misled to cast the wrong vote in the last general election.
It remains to be seen if the Umno meetings this week make serious amends on these three major issues confronting the nation.
LIM KIT SIANG is the MP of Iskandar Puteri.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.