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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

My Photo
Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Monday, November 07, 2022

UMNO's Impending Implosion

 UMNO’s  Impending  Implosion

M. Bakri Musa


When the United Malay National Organization (UMNO) lost power in the 14th General Election of May 2018, its leaders deluded themselves into thinking that it was only a temporary setback. This coming 15th General Election on November 22, 2022 will disabuse them of that.


            It would be sad to see the end of one of the few (if not the only) Malay entities, be it political, business, or anything else, to have sustained such longevity. Most last slightly longer than the morning dew. Beyond that, UMNO successfully spearheaded the nation’s peaceful path towards independence. That deserves the gratitude of all.


            On the other hand UMNO is the one entity most responsible for the collective, destructive Malay submissive feudal mindset and culture. With that, the undue and unquestioning obedience to those in power. Thus Malay sultans could cavort with foreign hookers and then burden citizens with the subsequent humongous alimony. Religious leaders brandish their Qur’an and endlessly quote the hadith while the ummah remains blighted with degrading poverty and crippling social pathologies. In Kelantan, long ruled by the ulama class, kopi susu (cafe au lait) refers to the water flowing out of their taps.


            The leader of the Islamic Party PAS (its Malay acronym) Hadi Awang once said in a televised press conference in London, complete with simultaneous English translation, that corruption is halal in Islam as both parties agree to the transaction! According to his kitab prostitution too is halal. His novel “corruption is halal” has much to do with his getting some of the loot of 1MDB, albeit only the crumbs. He sued Clare Booth of Sarawak Report who first exposed that, but ended up paying her to settle the lawsuit!


            At the federal level, again the consequence of UMNO rule, the ulama have been coopted by the state and reduced to be its handmaiden. They should have been, like their counterparts in the early glory days of Islam, the bulwark against the excesses of those in power.


            As for Malay political leaders, the man who stole billions from Malaysians and then imposed upon them generation-long crippling debt is referred to with great adoration as Malu Apa Bossku? (What is there to be ashamed of my boss?) Najib Razak is only one manifestation of the degradation of Malay values. Again the entity most responsible for that is UMNO. 


            It reflects how corrupt and depraved the party is in that four of its seven past leaders have resigned, including Mahathir. He helmed the party and country for over 22 years, the longest tenure for any Malaysian leader. In case you missed it, that matched the duration of Muhammad’s Prophethood.


            Unlike the other three, Mahathir went beyond just quitting. He started his own party to oppose UMNO. Some gratitude, an ugly personification of his Melayu Mudah Lupa (Malays easily forget!) mantra, his “repayment” to UMNO after what the party had done for him.


            Meanwhile UMNO’s current (eighth) President, Zahid Hamidi, is facing serious corruption charges. His immediate predecessor, that Malu Apa Bossku? character, is now in jail. Bless old Abdullah Badawi; he remains the only one unblemished. One out of eight!


            A line from Yeats’ “The Second Coming” poem describes well today’s UMNO:  “The best lack all convictions, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” And all members are hooked and hopelessly dependent on corruption, cronyism, and nepotism.


            Back in the 1950s and 60s UMNO members, in particular those in its Youth Wing, were not at all shy in criticizing their leaders. Youth members regarded themselves as the party’s ginger group, to spice things up in case its leaders got too comfortable. There was also a time when all UMNO Presidents were challenged at the leadership convention. Again, Mahathir put an end to that, in the name of party ‘unity.’ 


            Today there are no jantans (alpha males), young or old, in UMNO, and the party’s leadership convention is but a sham. They are all enablers for UMNO’s wayward leaders; likewise the other leaders of the component Barisan coalition parties. These degradations of UMNO and the Barisan coalition it leads all happened under Mahathir.


            There is more. Mahathir exploited Razak’s New Economic Policy to the hilt by vastly expanding UMNO’s reach into the corporate world. When UMNO was declared illegal in 1988, again during Mahathir’s watch, there was a mad scramble for ownership of its vast assets held under various hidden nominees. Likewise with his massive privatization schemes. Both gave rise to instant classic rent-seeking berlaggak(ostentatious) UMNO billionaires. That included one of Mahathir’s sons whose shipping company, near collapse during the 1997 Asian economic tsunami, was “rescued” by yes, the national oil company. Today at 97, this Geritol politician still feels he has more to give, I mean, take!


            Consider corruption; there is no embarrassment among UMNO leaders today to have their workers blatantly handing out cash for votes. My advice to voters is simple. Take the money (it belongs to the rakyatanyway) and boot out those bastards come voting day. Not only do I look forward to UMNO’s implosion in November 2022, but also that of its longest-serving leader and the man most responsible for the degradation of this once mighty party – Mahathir.


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