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Sakmongkol ak 47

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

UMNO leadership Values

This short essay is a personal take on the values that UMNO has to rekindle. It is intended to open up a debate on the future of UMNO. It tries to anticipate what the future leadership of UMNO will grapple with in future.

Assume that Dato Najib becomes the UMNO president. What will be his priority? He has inherited an UMNO formed by a culture that has permeated the whole UMNO body politic for 62 years. Because UMNO is a Malay political party, it has also imported Malay culture into it.

The UMNO he inherits will also be the UMNO that will steer the Malays into the future. As an organisation, how can UMNO endure? The answer it seems, in order to endure, it must adapt by preparing for the future.

The way UMNO operates reflects the sum total of the values it has accumulated. At any point in time, the values that dominate are those belonging to the leadership that dominates.

The values of Tengku Abdul Rahman for example shaped UMNO of the early years. Compromising, give and take, laid back, accommodative, reflecting the values held by the dominant leadership. In particular the values held by the Tunku.

The values of Tun Razak for example, are more operational by nature- focussing on attempts to push the Malays towards modernization. In order to achieve that, the overall values during TUn Razak’s time tend to be aggressive and assertive in nature. Proactive at it were.

The values during Tun Hussein’s time, were consolidating values. Values that emphasise orderliness, discipline and so forth.

The values that dominate during Tun Mahathir’s time, were values associated with assertiveness, purposeful. Very similar to the values that were expounded during Tun Razak’s time.

The values sponsored during Pak Lah’s time were dissipative by nature. What has been laid down, tend to be diluted by misconceived values of more openness, more reforms and so forth. But in reality, these misconceived values tend to disintegrate the more aggressive values necessary for progress.

The analogy would be what a Marxist would write on the ills of his society. That values which are bourgeois in nature will not able to sustain the society that wants to break from its past.

Bourgeois values- decadence, promotion of easy living, enjoying, fun time, costume parties, soirees, etc. these are values that eat and gnaw at the values that promote competitiveness.

Basically, the values that Pak Lah wanted to promote are by nature, dissipative, diffusive and therefore unfocused and debilitating.

These values are not compatible with the UMNO culture necessary to propel it into the future.

UMNO can only survive by adopting robust values more closely associated with the values expounded by Tun Razak and Tun Mahathir. So who says, Pak Lah is the last of Tun Razak’s generation? The leader more closely related to Tun Razak’s values would be Tun Mahathir. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, would be a nice fit.

But since he is not expected to be available any time soon, lets hope Dato Najib, if he becomes the UMNO president will display values that have more spine.


Anonymous,  22 October 2008 at 02:16  

Can we at least have a handsome one?
Hisham Onn is next up?
Kee Kee Kee
Shallow Standards?
We'll be looking at this guys face for maybe a decade on TV, papers and others...

Zahar 22 October 2008 at 04:08  

One of the "values" which have seeped in to UMNO is the value of money, i.o.w. Rasuah.

I may be wrong, but I think this donation mentality may have first started out rather benignly, the grateful leader bestowing largesse to the supporter, a kain pelikat here, some coffee money there. All very civilised and with good intentions. Furthermore, back in the day most supporters and delegates would come from the common people with common economic means. Perhaps they never even considered that as bribery, what with the sums being token amounts after all.

One theory I have heard about the whole giving thing taking a sinister turn, was down to the actions of a certain now quiet frog trainer, when he was jostling Tun Ghafar out of the Deputy President post all those short years ago.

I think the identity of the person I'm referring to is already obvious, but just to further jog memories, he was also known to have resorted to such fiscal proclivities in trying to frog-train Sabahan politicians some years back, albeit that exercise in frog-training turned out rather more successfully than the class of 2008.

The question I have is, what with you being close to the inner circle at one time and all, would that theory about the frog-trainer be true? That he was the one who originated the rasuah "values" into UMNO?

Anonymous,  22 October 2008 at 04:58  


Not just UMNO...
Everywhere politics is about money, at the end of the day. Beneath all the holey moley manifestos....
Look at the US pres elections, what are the two candidates campaigning for? Are they any different? Also about money, more of it...

ctchoo 22 October 2008 at 06:42  


To compare UMNO's money politics with MCA or MIC is very proper and fair. But to compare it with the US presidential elections is glib and facetious. US fund-raising is via donations and contributions from voters. In our case, for every RM1-00 collected from the voters and supporters RM1000-00 is "collected" from other sources. I could be wrong. I would love to discover that it ain't so. But zahar has a point as far as I'm concerned, except that I would extend his point to MCA and MIC too.

mekyam,  22 October 2008 at 06:54  

i, for one, wont be holding my breath, mr sak.

just as abdullah appears not to know values even if one were to bit his behind, najib has indicated many times that he doesn't know spine.


jed, i think you have a point there. thus far we've had rather good-looking PMs.

but such a standard would rule out TRH and MY, no? :D

A Tabib 22 October 2008 at 07:36  

I couldn't agree more with Zahar about the money politics and corruption. Umno is soaked with it that it has become to some members a means to hit the big time.

A certain Umno politician once likened winning the division chief's post as getting a gold mine.

Continue to breathe easy Mekyam.

If you are the King of the Cannibals, how do you stop your followers from indulging in their favourite pastime without losing your head in the process?

Anonymous,  22 October 2008 at 08:02  


Corruption has just been legalised and institutionalised via lobby groups.

Contributions can be very large...

It's even BIGGER MONEY and KICKBACKS in the US. Look McCain flies around in a private jet. Although I'm sure most UMNO snr politicians can afford helis, it's not a trend to fly around in one to campaign.

Only in the US, it's called lobbying and perfectly ok. ;)


"but such a standard would rule out TRH and MY, no? "

True. And Najib too.
I think Husam is best but he is in PAS and tucked away in Kelantan.
But maybe the next PM will be from PAS. ;)
At least, MY can talk quite well...I'm sure you've seen Pak Lah on TV....

mekyam,  22 October 2008 at 17:38  

touché, m le toubib ! :D

hahaha! your mention of cannibals flashed on my retinas that scene of jack sparrow narrowly missing being dinner in the 2nd sequel of 'pirates of the caribbean' even though he WAS "god". what more king eh?

on a serious note, the perpetuation of this self-serving self-preservation strategy means UMNO (and by extension the malay body politics since i think to a lesser extent the practice exists also in pkr and pass) will be starved for good leaders as it finds it more and more difficult to separate the grains from the chaffs.

are we then doomed to mediocre and corrupt leadership forever? or at least, for a long time?

the idea that promising leadership materials -- umno members like mr sak, jeb must die, lawyer kampung, etc, people who are sincere, sharp, well-informed, well-read and articulate -- will most probably be denied the chance to run for high office unless they want to play game by the current sick rules depresses me.

so now i'm breathing again, doc... but i sure ain't breathing easy.

p.s. btw i plonked a comment to your virgin post "nullum gratuitum prandium". seen it? :D

mekyam,  22 October 2008 at 17:56  

ctchoo said... US fund-raising is via donations and contributions from voters.

you are right. usually ugly money politics in the US comes later, in the form of "pork-barrelling".

in the many elections i've witnessed here, the primaries and presidential elections especially have adhered to the oversights in place.

in fact, fund-raising via donations and contributions from voters is one of the ways candidates gauge popular support, which then helps them strategize accordingly.

mekyam,  22 October 2008 at 18:14  

hi jed,

i too have a soft spot for husam's good-looking mug (guess i'm shallow that way, hehehe!). still, he's not just a pretty face. if we go by his writings on his blog, the man is also intelligent.

but as jeb responded to you at his JMD blog, i do think it's unhealthy for him to associate himself so much with DSAI.

re the us prez election, i have to mention that mccain is a v. v. wealthy man. his wife is a billionnarie and he also comes from old money. owning pvt jets among the superwealthy in the US is not the rare thing it is in malaysia. the US, a large country by comparison (divided into nine standard time zones covering its states and possessions), also have more grounds than malaysia for the candidates to cover.

Anonymous,  22 October 2008 at 18:20  

Dear Sir,

As usual, your post is very spot on indeed. May I add another dominant value within Pak Lah's leadership.

Hypocrisy. If it's not him, then it's his advisers whom are all guilty for this kind of affliction.

Thank you.


A Tabib 22 October 2008 at 23:08  

Evening Mekyam and AK,

Thanks for the visit!!. What a pleasant surprise. Yeah I guess I am a wee bit cynical. People of my vintage usually are - well about certain spheres of life anyway and we're not helped by the present situation.

Please don't expect additions to the blog though. I registered the blog to get an ID. I don't want somebody to steal my nick, post something inappropriate here, I get kicked out of this blog and Sakmongkol gets a visit by...erm...Men in Blue. But the real reason is I can't match the quality of some of our bloggers (nudge, nudge) so I just tumpang sekakilah.

Just to add to the present debate, corruption is the root cause of Umno's predicament. Umno must really, really find a way to make corruption and money politics repugnant to its members. It has to come from inside them, this rejection of corruption. It may take a long time, maybe even a generation, to achieve. They may not even eradicate it 100% but I think Umno has no choice but to try. Really try.

Tun Razak clearly held selfless service as a value. He was a real "rakyat-firster". He absolutely deserves the 0.95 on the Fauzi scale.

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