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.