COMMENT | As an indemnification for taking away MIC’s two parliamentary seats, Port Dickson and Cameron Highlands, Umno must now show its commitment to multiculturalism by letting MIC contest the Rantau by-election.
If it is true that Umno practises moderation, shares power and cares for the interest of all races, not just the Malay community, it must do so.
Umno must think and act ‘national’, not parochial, despite the fact that Malay dominance is an inescapable reality for Malaysia.
By allowing MIC to contest in Rantau, Umno will emerge as an inclusive party embracing the rights and interests of all races, and not just of one race or religion.
Umno has to understand that political parties in the country are tending towards multiculturalism. It has to nurture the political spirit of inclusiveness.
If the former ruling party looks at rebuilding itself, it must move toward becoming multiracial. Its leaders must remember that ours is a plural society and they must win the hearts of all races, not just one.
Acting Umno president Mohamad Hasan has said that he wants to defend the Rantau state seat – which he has held since 2004 – in the coming by-election, and is prepared to face anyone.
The argument goes like this: a big win or loss for Mohamad does not make any difference to him or Umno. A win for him will make him neither MP nor the opposition leader.
Perhaps, the Umno leader should prove his political strength and reinvent the party's political strategies by contesting in a parliamentary constituency and not a state seat.
To be more relevant in the dynamics of national politics, Mohamad must be an elected MP – not a state assemblyperson of his very own kampung. This will be the best way to revive the spirits of Umno's grassroots members.
Out of the 222 parliamentary seats, 166 are in the peninsula, of which 70 percent are Malay-majority seats. He can choose one of those.
An Umno MP should immediately vacate his or her seat to make way for Mohamad to contest in a by-election. This will help the party rise and become strong again.
BN needs to prove its mettle as a credible, effective and vocal opposition after it was rejected in the 14th general election.
Umno-BN cannot be in denial believing that Pakatan Harapan will implode within two years. If they do, there is every reason to think that Mohamad is the weakest (acting) party president.
Umno, without the support of PAS, would be weak. However, as both parties are riddled with allegations of corruption and abuse of power, Umno has no other choice, but to work with PAS for racial and religious cooperation.
Political observers are of the opinion that Umno has entered into a marriage of convenience with PAS. This is a case of scratching each other’s back.
After the BN supreme council meeting on Friday, MIC has decided to remain in BN as coalition partners with Umno.
As MIC was sidelined in the previous by-elections, it would be fair for it to demand to contest in Rantau as compensation for being snubbed in Port Dickson and Cameron Highlands.
M VIVEK served as an aide to several former MIC deputy ministers.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.