Tengku, I noticed in your recent entries, you have written about the UMNO ideas expounded by Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Razak. It is as though, you are reminding and exhorting the UMNO leadership and UMNO in general to go back to first principles, as it were...
The Tunku was a great statesman. True, he didn't have the technicalities, but he has an overall sense of history and propriety. His vision was to see Malaysia evolved into a country where all the different races can live in harmony. He was mindful of Malay interest and he sought out to achieve those without injuring the rights of others.
What was the basis on which we achieved independence? And what was UMNO's approach to achieving that?
That UMNO is a Malay party is an unchallengeable fact. But it was never racist. It sought to achieve independence through consensus building. This was the guiding principle that drives UMNO. It's always seeking to achieve consensus to achieve its aim. This was also the guiding principle that guided Tunku and the first principles that you mentioned.
That was in 1957. The other milestone in our history was the formation of Malaysia. That was in 1963. It was also conceived on the idea of consensus building. That it was possible for different races in Malaysia to come together and lived in harmony. In order to do that, we have to practice mutual respect and trust. We go back to upholding the rule of law and the constitution.
This was the idea that became the cornerstone in Tun Razak's formation of the BN. It encapsulates the practicalities of working together to achieve common aims. It wasn't just a political means to reduce politicking. It was a means to institutionalise consensus building.
Tengku, to me you encapsulates what's best in Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Razak. You straddled both generations. What is the problem in UMNO now?
The idea of UMNO- what it stands for, fighting for Malay rights, dong that with dignity and respect for the laws has been hijacked by people with possess little credibility. We achieve things through consensus building, without compromising our dignity.
The only recourse for people with little or no credibility is always to assume violent posturing- not necessarily acting violent but proffering to.
What do you think are the root causes?
UMNO has ceased to be Malay. A Malay doesn't condone corruption. He is not disrespectful of others. UMNO does not represent the Malays anymore. As you have said, we got only around 2 million votes the last time. In Selangor even the Malay youths did not vote for UMNO.
UMNO has become un-Malay. We don't go around bashing peoples' heads if they don't agree with us. UMNO has refused to listen to the voices of the people.
The leadership insulates itself from the heartbeat of the people.
You know, in the last elections, the Military Intelligence people; the SB produced bounded reports on the state of Malaysian politics. The reports indicate, holding elections in March 2008, was not an opportune time. Unfortunately, the leadership read the reports only after the elections.
I had the chance to ask the leadership during an occasion in Kelantan ,why the urgency to hold the elections in March? The answer was- the leadership liked the number 13. (The elections were held on the 13th of March 2008).
Tengku- if by way of reading your statements, I get this feeling of hopelessness, how can we save UMNO? I am sure people like you who have been in UMNO and have been an integral part of UMNO, and people like my generation and the younger ones, who have benefited from UMNO, surely we do not wish UMNO to be extinct? And as everyone knows, you left as a matter of principle, to form Semangat 46. What is there to prevent UMNO from disappearing?
Correction...I did not leave to form Semangat 46. Tengku Abdul Rahman did and invited me to join...
My apologies Tengku—but back to my question, what's there to save UMNO?
UMNO has power. It's not easy to dislodge those who have power. But we can't live on the brink and precipice all the time. It's not good for the health.
We must go back to the people. Win their confidence. Restore our credibility. The UMNO leadership must go on bended knees and ask forgiveness from the rakyat. Humility is in order.
Speaking on humility Tengku, why do you think, this quality is sorely lacking in most of our leaders?
This is the other problem. Humility is lacking in our leadership. If we were to state the facts that UMNO is losing ground to any UMNO leader, he will come back to menacingly say-how do you know? Arrogance has blinded the leadership. Rather than engaging us in fruitful discussions, they fly off the handle.
So the only recourse is to allow the people to teach UMNO. In the next elections, people will teach UMNO and Dato Najib. And then it will become like you said previously, the N in RAHMAN becomes E-N-D.
In the past, even the UMNO president joined us for refresher courses. Tengku Abdul Rahman did. He sat with us on the floor. We would call lecturers and intellectuals to lecture us- to remind us of our responsibilities. And you know Tun Razak dearly loved these courses. That is also a sign of humility- the leadership coming to terms and acknowledging their own frailties and foibles.
There was a melancholic tone when TRH said that.
Arrogance comes from an inferiority complex really. Those who have these complexes will camouflage their weaknesses by aggression. They think the only way they can put forward their ideas is by treating others as adversaries. Have you noticed how many of our leaders prefer surrounding themselves with not so credible followers?