I have always enjoyed Josh Hong’s column in Malaysiakini, even though at times I have disagreed with him, as I had with two other of my fave MKNI columnists, my good mate Dean Johns and sweetie Helen Ang – but then that’s the essence of enjoyable reading because they, by providing views different to mine, have stimulated my thinking.
Josh’s latest article, Nasir Safar not the issue; racism is, is a damn good read, where he lamented the racist-oriented products of the infamous Biro Tatanegara (BTN).
His concluding paragraphs, as follows, captured my full attention:
While some have come to Nasir's defence and said that his words were taken out of context, I tend to think otherwise judging from the furious reaction from the floor.
As we all know, BN component parties are habitually subservient to Umno, with many of their leaders treating right-hand men of successive prime ministers as royal emissaries. That MIC and MCA members present at the forum had the guts to stage a walkout speaks volume of the excesses in Nasir's speech.
That MIC and MCA members walked out in the midst of Nasir's speech effectively pulled the carpet from under the feet of his apologists who offered the usual excuses that Nasir was misinterpreted, misquoted, misunderstood (but never ‘misguided’).
Some apologists even left their pathetic claw marks on the door sill by suggesting only 'a few' walked out. Even if just one MIC or MCA person had walked out, it would have indicated the deeply offensive nature of Nasir's words.
I am not so much disturbed or concerned by Nasir's comments as others. After all, he is just a minion serving the interests of his political master. What he uttered was not a gaffe; rather, his views are quite likely shared by many in the Malay-dominated civil service.
These people are products of the controversial Biro Tata Negara, and have been fed with a racist ideology that does not in the long term engender a people of hope, courage and tolerance, but of fear, jealousy and even hatred. Just look at how the Umno-controlled media has been reporting on some vitally important national issues.
Given such a social milieu, why should we be surprised that Najib cannot even convince those around him of his 1Malaysia vision? I am more worried how this mindset can be shifted without entailing severe social costs.
Josh is saying, and I agree with him, that Najib has not convinced his own UMNO people of his 1Malaysia aspiration. Much as Najib might have claimed (in an interview in Singapore) that he was/is an UMNO warlord, it’s becoming clear that he isn’t the Big Kahuna as one would have expected of UMNO leaders in the mould of Tengku (at least up to 1969 - we knew how he was 'sabotaged' in May 1969), Razak, Hussein (for the short time he was PM – wonder how he would have fared if he stayed longer?) and Mahathir.
So, while we have been proudly and gleefully proclaiming there has been a sea change in the Malaysian political landscape, we have basically referred to. or limited this change in political thinking to the growing non-BN or pro-Pakatan electorates.
But within UMNO, there has also been a sea change as well, not necessarily the ‘Road to Damascus’ type*, but that of a growing disenchantment with and diminishing confidence in their No 1 leader.
* there'll be the usual migration of 'rats leaving the sinking ship' but I wouldn't classify rats as ‘Road to Damascus’ types
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know this ‘sea change’ within UMNO started with AAB, where he was undermined continuously, and certainly most effectively.
The once-invincible respect and adulation, or even fear, by party members for the UMNO President had eroded (or 'had been' eroded), and is unlikely to be restored to the level of its glory days. This in itself may not be a bad thing for UMNO and Malaysia, but we need first to see what directions politics within UMNO will take.
The only thing I can say about AAB’s downfall is that he made one humongous ‘UMNO-crime’ in going against (or abruptly terminating) the unfinished legacy of his predecessor. To what extent his SIL had influenced him into doing so is irrelevant, but that AAB did so spelt the beginning of his end. His enemies were just too powerful for him.
So, is Najib facing the same undermining, though the intensity is more of a chipping away at some of his policies rather than ruthless chopping at his knees?
As Josh Hong succinctly said: These people are products of the controversial Biro Tata Negara, and have been fed with a racist ideology that does not in the long term engender a people of hope, courage and tolerance, but of fear, jealousy and even hatred. Just look at how the Umno-controlled media has been reporting on some vitally important national issues.
All these wee Napoleons need is just a ‘leader’ to egg them on – a ‘leader’ who doesn’t like the way Najib is going or believes the PM has gone too far.