Thursday, 2 October 2008

The State of UMNO

Someone asks the rhetorical question. Name one party that is not corrupt? Our inability to answer that question does not preclude us from speaking out. If any one in the position of leadership is moved to speak against corruption, that is a start. Nor does our inability to answer immediately, make what the current leadership practises excusable.

A long time ago, when Sakmongkol was much younger and curiosity got the better of him, he read among others the works of communist thinkers. From Marx to Preobrazensky to Trotsky. Some of the terms he now remembers are underbau and oberbau, substructure and superstructure respectively.

When the underbau becomes corrupted and weakened by way of weaning off the principles which once gave the organisation its character, the oberbau will soon give way. That is how Sakmongkol sees UMNO at the moment.

If one were to ask, how fare UMNO at the moment, what would your answer be? No UMNOniks can say, what happens to UMNO is the concern of card carrying UMNO members only. The whole country is interested because UMNO forms the main pillar of the BN. what happens to it, is a cause of concern to its partners in the coalition. If UMNO sneezes, the others catch a cold.

Many commentators on UMNO seem to miss the point about the transformation of UMNO’s character. It has long abandoned its kampong centric character. It has long shed the image of a country bumpkin or a Hillbilly Jed Clampett from the Malaysian Appalachians or Ozarks. Instead over the period of 60 years, the typical UMNO man has evolved from the simple Kampung character into a streetwise opportunistic character. The new UMNO man is more likely be a marauding contract junkie, always on the lookout for rent seeking services.

It is no longer the repository of idealism or nationalism. Nationalism in its unadulterated form is necessary to infuse a sense of national pride. Adulterated, it can evolve from a positive trait into an extreme form of racist bigotry. Along with it, UMNO’s raison detre about fighting for the Malays has also almost disappeared. It resurfaces only when UMNO leadership feels insecure and threatened. UMNO was no Meiji restoration- modernise to strengthen the monarchy, the military and all that.

Today it has degenerated into a party, where people jostle to secure positions in order to get their hands on the nation’s kitty. It is moving towards a form of kleptocracy.

The country according to UMNO is divided into 192 ‘states’ each belonging to an UMNO warlord. The warlord is the Ketua Bahagian who will compete to partake in the division of the country’s largesse. Division heads compete to secure government projects, tenders, and businesses. To UMNO the country and the economy fits into the model described by the historian Arnold J. Toynbee. The country’s economy is based on Raubwirtschafft or simply, a robber economy. The pot of gold is the political power held by UMNO which holds the key to the to economic power.

Except that the internal economy of UMNO does not function on slavery but on a more insidious exploitative form of economic enterprise, the rent seeking economy. UMNO warlords will secure contracts, tenders and businesses and sub contract them down many layers.

There was a case of an UMNO division head who secured a RM400 million deal to construct a stretch of highway. Immediately he sub-contracted it for RM320 million making a cool RM80 million. The first subcontractor in turn sub-sub contracted the tender for RM 280 million. Whether the highway was completed on RM280 million was never known.

This version of UMNO-nomics tend to snuff out the rise of a genuine middle class to promote free enterprise. Perhaps this practice explains the stunted growth of the Malay economy.

How can such UMNO-nomics work? It can only do so as long as the UMNO government is on expanse, i.e. it must continue to expand the economy artificially without support from fundamentals. Once the expansion is no longer tenable, UMNO will self implode.

1 comments:

Jed Yoong 2 October 2008 at 20:01  

:0

UMNO is just a political party.
Destruction of the old is necessary before the creation of the new, ie change.
If it's any consolation, PKR, as per media reports, ain't much better either.
Actually, in my view, since March 8, DAP + PKR, not sure about PAS, has been "infused" with new Barisan/UMNO-like members/leaders -- political opportunists hoping to jump on the new gravy train...
Even at the kampung level, I suspect UMNO is nothing more than an org that dishes out goodies, like most political parties throughout the world.
Dun take it so hard?

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