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Fwd: MGG - Is There A Proper Dress Code For Prime Ministerial
By web aNtu

28/8/2000 7:24 pm Mon

Apa yang menarik dalam komen ini ialah kenapa LAMBAT SANGAT UMNO bertindak selepas kabar tersiar. Adakah ia sengaja dilambatkan atau umno memang lembab?

[sangkancil] [MGG] Is There A Proper Dress Code For Prime Ministerial

On July 28, the UMNO secretary-general, Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob, allegedly issued a circular to UMNO divisions and branches on what UMNO members should wear to functions the Prime Minister would attend. Three weeks later, he proscribes it a fake. But few believe it is. So, the deputy prime minister, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, tries to douse the fire: "It is the work of people who have nothing better to do but to slander and tell lies," he intones. Would there be, deputy prime minister, any connexion between these people and the UMNO chaps who go around during the elections and at other times to throw the opposition into the same tizzy UMNO finds itself in? No doubt, the Prime Minister himself must now come in to clear the air. If it was faked, as it now appears, it was a brilliant psywar effort to destabilise the UMNO leadership. Especially, when the UMNO secretary-general decried it a fake only weeks after it had been widely distributed. It is no use telling us that UMNO secretary-general's circular follow a set pattern; not having seen one, how is one to realise that? I heard of this early this month, thought UMNO would not be so stupid. But a group of senior Malay officials, in service and retired, whom I met after their Friday prayers two weeks ago, said copies were distributed after prayers. It is fair to assume that this particular mosque was among many where they were distributed.

That UMNO headquarters did not learn of this until a fortnight later. Why did not the divisions and branches check back with Kuala Lumpur? Or if they did, is there someone in Kuala Lumpur who did not pass it on? Whatever it is, this alleged letter reflects a major weakness in the party organisation. No one thought it fit to bring it to the secretary-general's attention about this move to make UMNO look like a fool. Who did it is irrelevant. It is safe to assume that the opposition -- not necessarily officially, but some group like UMNO's Tahan Lasak groups -- did this. UMNO should expect it, especially UMNO actively destabilises opposition parties by fair means and foul. If the opposition had attempted this, say, five years ago, UMNO headquarters would have known about this before it was widely spread and action taken to counter it within days. This time, even the deputy prime minister cannot convince Malaysians of opposition perfidy.

UMNO cannot expect sympathy by pleading the moral high ground. The only way the opposition could challenge the government -- this still holds true -- is by guerrilla war. The government, dominated by UMNO, controls what the opposition can and cannot do, forces it into a frame of its own choice. For long, the opposition remained cowed and in search of a role. That is no more so. It controls two states, made almost every Malay parliamentary constituency marginal, despite its small number of MPs in the house. UMNO's mistakes, especially in how it humiliated its Prime Minister-to-be, Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, coupled with its arrogance after 45 years of political control, finally forced the Malay cultural heartland to divest itself of UMNO as its cultural and political leader. UMNO members move in larger numbers to PAS than the other way around. I once attended a kenduri, before the November 1999 general elections, where the UMNO leadership of the area, whom I have known for decades, were all now with PAS. One unintended byproduct of the New Economic Policy is the division of those who benefitted into those who get special privileges and those who do not. And those who do not, even if in UMNO, do not support UMNO as wholeheartedly as they once did.

The UMNO oligarchy battens its hatches, but operating as what two Brahmin families in Boston did for centuries: "The Lodges talked to the Cabots, and Cabots to God." The Lodges and Cabots could, with their wealth and influence; UMNO cannot. For when everything is said and done, it must come to the voter to re-elect it into power. At present, UMNO and the National Front has no alternative in the opposition, which thought control could be exercised by controlling the states. It cannot. The federal purse strings is sufficient to keep any opposition state in line, as Kelantan and Trengganu, under PAS, is. If the opposition decides -- it has not, but should -- to concentrate on Parliament and accept any states it gets as a bonus, in future general elections, the National Front would have a fight of its life on its hands. The National Front depends on the non-Malay vote to survive. But the Teluk Kemang byelection is a taste of what could happen: of the 5,000 postal voters, 80 per cent went to the opposition candidate; about 1,000 Chinese voters deserted the National Front; about 65 per cent of the Malays voted with the opposition; the National Front's only bright spark was the largely irrelevant Indian community, 70 per cent of whom backed it, to buck the electoral trend.

UMNO must address this danger when fake circulars from its secretary-general is not brought to its attention until after it had been discussed for a fortnight. UMNO's continued health is in question so long as the Prime Minister is in office, and Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim in jail. UMNO is out of tune with its cultural heartland, and of the Malay community in general. The more so when the Prime Minister makes ex-cathedra statements of intent and criticism, as he did from his return from Maputo. What this fake circular, and the battening of political hatches reveal is a dissembling of the political worldview of UMNO as its leaders make statements of the wonderful future ahead for Malaysians under its leadership, but one which the speakers themselves do not believe in. As an example, one sure sign that Singapore-Malaysians are headed for worse times is to have the finance minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, be the pointman for Kuala Lumpur. The man whom the Prime Minister wanted dismissed as finance minister, then changed his mind, cannot, the Malays believe, be the man to resolve bilateral problems. Yet another mistake in this long litany since a man was sacked on 2 September 1998 and challenged the worldview of the Prime Minister and UMNO.

M.G.G. Pillai