By Dr Chris Anthony | Malaysiakini
The just concluded 66th Umno general assembly was the last opportunity for the party to convince the people of its willingness to change – a promise it made four years ago after its unprecedented losses at the March 8 election of 2008.
Unfortunately it appears that Umno had missed that opportunity going by the proceedings at the assembly, the last before 13th general election.
It was pathetic to see a party in power for 55 years, having led the fight for independence and developing the nation to a level to be admired by many, resorting to three misguided strategies to win the crucial 13th general election that is seen as a threat to unseat it.
1. Over-boasting of its experience in governance and achievements while failing to address all its glaring misdeeds.
2. Threatening of riots and unrest if it loses.
3. Opposition bashing and ridiculing the opposition as an unholy alliance, its inexperience in governing and unrealistic populist policies which will only lead the country to bankruptcy.
It was unfortunate that led by the heads of the Youth and Wanita wings and president, speaker after speaker took turns to attack the opposition and its leaders instead of trying to prove they had changed and deserve to be trusted to continue to rule for another term.
The PM also boasted on Umno’s past achievements instead of trying to chart a new direction his party will head to take the country and the people to greater heights.
The Umno Wanita leader’s use of May 13 to scare Malaysians to support Umno reflects how desperate her party is to win the elections at all costs.
By trying to instill fear of riots and the possibility of another May 13 should they lose power, they exhibited great anxiety and fear at the prospect of losing power.
It further proved they had totally lost touch with what the people on the ground want – peace and progress, not war and chaos.
The vast majority of Malaysians of all races are living quite comfortably and are not in the mood for fights and riots with their own fellow citizens.
They want to continue their peaceful coexistence to develop the nation to greater heights.
Her claim that that Malays will lose political power if Umno loses the mandate to govern in the next general election is ridiculous as Malays also form the majority in Pakatan.
In actual fact, it is Umno who will lose their power not Malays as they will continue to dominate even under Pakatan rule.
The Umno Youth leader’s comparison to the coming elections to World War II is unbecoming of a leader in a democratic country who could be aspiring to be the PM in the future.
In a war you fight against enemies invading your country and you have the right to kill if necessary – unlike in an election where you contest against your opponents who are not your enemy but fellow citizens who are your comrades in building your nation.
I don’t understand the relevance of him quoting Winston Churchill’s words which refers to war, not elections.
The Umno president did not spare the opposition in his opening address.
He reiterated that if Pakatan rules, the country will be demolished economically and lose its sovereignty.
What proof does he have to support that as Pakatan has yet to be given a chance to rule?
They condemned and even ridiculed Pakatan’s promises to reduce oil prices, car prices, abolish toll and provide free tertiary education to all, saying such populist measures are unrealistic and only will bankrupt the nation.
It is hard to believe how enriching the people will cause the nation to go bankrupt.
What concrete measures are Umno-BN planning to alleviate the people’s impoverished state other than giving out free cash occasionally in the form the abused BR1M?
On the whole the assembly was a great letdown for those who had hopes that Umno is capable to reinvent and change itself for the sake of the country and the people.
Instead what it really proved was that it was still in denial.
It was more of an opposition-bashing only on a more subdued tone compared to previous Umno general assemblies because of the coming elections.
It also showed its desperate attempts to cling on by bringing back services of an ageing former leader and even God.
The strategies adopted by Umno, instead of garnering more support, would only help convince fence sitters to make up their mind against BN in the coming election.
The incumbent party cannot hope to win an election by the non-existing demerits of its untested opponent but only by its merits over 55 years of rule.
The over two thousand delegates of the 66th Umno general assembly may have gone home feeling good, motivated and recharged by the intensive three days of opposition bashing but how long that fire in them lasts to bring the desired victory at the 13th general election remains to be seen.