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Sakmongkol ak 47

Monday 19 January 2009

Sobering Lessons for UMNO(2)

It is baffling. When launching the UMNO/BN elections machinery in KT- DS Najib said, the KT election is crucial. It will signal the resurgence of the party. The party needs a pick-me-up after the defeat in Permatang Pauh. A few days into the election, he was even more upbeat. The opposition, says Dato Najib, has no campaign issues. Was this just audacity or was it a case of massive misinformation? The opposition had plenty to say to which UMNO can only meekly counter.

It was to be an election of supreme importance. It could have been a reaffirmation of support for UMNO. It could also be a signature approval to his impending premiership. We know the outcome. UMNO lost. DS Najib tells the nation, it’s just a minor setback.

This KT verdict confirms that UMNO under this LEADERSHIP is on a freefall. It is also another sharp rebuke from the people to UMNO’s leadership. It is a sharp vote of no confidence to the entire leadership- Pak Lah, Najib and the entire cabal of leaders. So it’s not a minor setback.

The most visible UMNO leader there during the KT election was Najib. It is hard for us to discount the impression that the KT people’s verdict was also directed at Najib. That, despite his homilies about how to behave and personal touches with the Kampung folks. Maybe it’s a grand spectacle for those outside KT to see old men or women cry when given the chance to meet up personally with Najib. The tears were true all right, but they may be teardrops lamenting that their UMNO sons and daughters have not come back for a long time.

At the moment, UMNO has a leadership problem. It’s losing credibility as a leader to the Malays. What UMNO says is no longer believable. When no longer believable, you will be ostracised as a pariah. I hate to admit as true, the possibility of UMNO being buried as said by one chief minister. At the same time, it’s hard to dismiss offhand the statement made by blogger Hantu Laut that UMNO has no talent and half of the MKT should be despatched.

But before I proceed I would like to comment on the usual knee-jerk responses by people. UMNO’s loss is attributable to Pak Lah, is the usual staple. Why the f**k did he chose the Wan Farid fellow? The truth is, as things are now, whoever stands in KT would be fodder. UMNO is the problem. Wan Farid is a minor.

Another favourite is; UMNO’s loss is attributable to the son in law. We are actually tired of these convenient explanations which are symptoms of shallowness of the mind. Suppose now, KJ comes forward and proves that all the peti undis under his supervision won? What do you say to him? And what will you say if you discover that the peti undi’s under the watch of Khir toyo and Mukhriz lost? This is no bloody game of musical chairs.

The whole problem lies with the UMNO body politic itself. If blame is attributable to Pak lah or KJ, why not for a nightcap (to catch a much needed sleep), blame Najib too. Isn’t he full of baggage and controversies? Pak Lah is a lame duck PM and UMNO president. KJ has been alone from the day Pak Lah announced the power transition. But Najib is in the saddle.

Do we fear to hear the real thing? Which is that UMNO is losing relevance and credibility?


Let me introduce readers to this concept. This is the basic defect of the UMNO leadership. What is cognitive egocentrism? It is the projection of one’s own mentality or “way of seeing the world” onto others. For example if a leader has amassed wealth through corrupt ways, he proceeds to assume the same about everyone else. He thinks all other UMNO leaders will do the same things as he does. If he is obsessed with sex, he assumes all other political leaders in the party behave in the same manner. Thus, just because, it is we who are divided, we console ourselves by imputing the same divisiveness in PAS. They are not. Those kinds of tendencies are nipped immediately.

The problem with UMNO is because of its own myopic practices and values, leaders that gain power at various levels share the same egocentrism. UMNO seems attractive to questionable characters, lowlifes and pandering sycophants. UMNO has become just a means for personal enrichment and grandiosity.

What happens then? Leadership in UMNO becomes a race among egocentrics seeking to gain superiority so that they can intensify their rapacious greed. They are around to amass wealth, to indulge in sexual fantasies and to do all sort of shenanigans. These are leaders of the transactional species- always looking out for ways to bargain some minor advantages, gratifications, handouts and so forth. Leaders parley with Chinese towkays to gain some pecuniary rewards. Always on the lookout to exploit, for private benefits, the positions they have. Hence the ketua cawanagan, ketua bahagian are less interested in transforming the mental and ideological landscape of their charges. They are interested in bargaining for whatever little advantages they can get. They are constantly fearful that, because others share the same rapacious tendencies, they must gang up to prevent other robbers from gaining ground. .

The typical aspiring leader would be any jock possibly with a flamboyant and garrulous personality, with some following among the idlers, laggards and lay-abouts. Loyalty to this personality type is almost always secured by way of dishing out some money, food and drinks and promises of a life full of fun. The prime motivation in politics is to exact deals and immediate material benefits. The only way to stay the course in order to continue preying on the body politic is to stay in power. Securing power is achieved by any dubious and questionable means.

Almost always the typical leaders who resort to do all kinds of dubious ways are those with less education and social schooling. Deficiency in these areas, result in a political culture typified by continuous jostling for advantages. Such a political culture creates a political environment uninviting to transformational leaders. They are easily lost in such an environment, their intellectual integrity do not allow them to engage in dubious methods. They have awkward people skills because they don’t find the ills of society are solvable through back slapping and guffaw at bawdy jokes.

So what do you have? You have a political party with a membership of 3 over million but it’s a case of too few chiefs and too many Indians. How do you ensure good leadership emerges from the heap of unmentionables in the political dustbin? The problem is that you can’t, if you hope, out of the collection of transacting leaders, good leadership will come willy-nilly. You have got to start from the basics, by ensuring good leadership is installed at the cawangan levels. There must be a process to everything. It’s the same with identifying leadership. You have got to set a certain standard for leadership that disqualifies non-leadership material.

UPDATE: I have received a message from our erstwhile blogger, An Nimr asking that her post about online petition against the atrocities of Israel be published. Her efforts are commendable. Please take time to read her article here.


Pak Zawi 19 January 2009 at 09:36  

Dato' Sak,
The dearth of good leaders in UMNO started when Government A Division officers were restricted from being active in politics. This gives rise to lower ranking officers and class F contractors rising to helm the party at Divional leaders.
At the higher plane of the party's hierachy, various conditions were imposed to ensure any challenge to their position will be thwarted. Anwar penetrated the system and took advantage of it to put himself in a position to challenge the late Tun Ghafar for the Deputy President's post. Tun Ghafar withdrew from the contest because he was beaten by the system itself which was supposed to safegurad his position.
Ku Li didn't even manage to contest the post of the president when he decided not to pay divions to nominate him for the presidents post.
So now we have a situation where a delegate to the AGM will be able to harvest lots of money from the contests for Deputy President, Vice Presidents, MT, Youth Head, etc.
That is why most of the UMNO workers are looking forward to the March AGM than working towards winning KT by election.

Ariff Sabri 19 January 2009 at 09:40  

dear zawi,
sad but true. i heard reports of UMNO people going for some important posts were more interested to gang up with delegates to the March UMNO elections. to them this KT election is not as important as the one in PWTC.

Anonymous,  19 January 2009 at 10:25  


I wish I could have expressed the ills facing UMNO as well as you have here.

But more important than this is that you were prepared, and had the courage to propose solutions. This is what separates you from the flock.

While others delight in shallow fault-finding and revel in cathartic mud-slinging (and leave it at that), you actually come forward with possible directions we could/should consider.

This is invaluable to a simple-minded political ignoramus like me. Thank you, sir.

Ariff Sabri 19 January 2009 at 10:31  

dear mb,
your modesty is superseded only by your linguistic brilliance. i am sure if you apply your language skills to political writings, people like me will take a back seat. in your sphere of writing, you are unsurpassed. thoroughly enjoy yr superb rendition of whatever stories you choose to tell.
i echo the lady when meeting you at one bloggers meet saying this is unfair- you(mb) write so well.

Anonymous,  19 January 2009 at 10:46  


Right on bro. This article is too long overdue.

You think they will sit down and reflect on this?
No. They are too busy in some Starbuck coffee houses discussing material opportunities.

In today,s B. Harian, Mohd Taib and
Rustam Ali commented on why UMNO
lost in KT. Instead of sobering
down and do an honest evaluation, they simply said UMNO lost because
the other side used dirty tactics.

Why are these people still in UMNO?


Saya... 19 January 2009 at 10:48  
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Saya... 19 January 2009 at 10:49  
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Saya... 19 January 2009 at 10:53  
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Ariff Sabri 19 January 2009 at 10:57  

an nimr,

will do it later. would like people to read my article firs/ thank you very much. always glad to be of service to you and we support your tireless efforts

Ariff Sabri 19 January 2009 at 10:58  


their leadership qualities are immediately betrayed. muhyidin comes out smelling like roses.

Saya... 19 January 2009 at 11:03  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous,  19 January 2009 at 11:06  

Just to tell Dato' Sak & Datin Mamasita that I'm at Mohd Zawi's house in Kasa, Pasir Mas. Using his 1Mbps Streamyx and WiFi. WOW! It's fast in his area. Makes my Celcom at 128Kbps so leceh...

Nice house too here...

mamasita 19 January 2009 at 14:06  

So you holiday kat rumah P.Z.?
We'll be off to K.L. weekend ni..Ada aunty sebelah my late father yang tak sihat and uncle sebelah our mothers yang going for an operation.
Sedihlah..kita pun kadang2 lupa kita semakin beruban kan?
You take care and jangan kecah2 your things kat rumah P.Z. k?Fatthiyah sure masak best2nya!!hehehe

A.John 19 January 2009 at 14:58  

Dato' Sak

The "passion" to serve has since been lost; and replaced by leaders being wanting to be served. When the newest member has joined the party for "goody bags" instead of wanting to serve the society he /she lives in, then the end result becomes obvious. Much as I agree with you that education and talents are vital for good leadership, many with such talents & education have continously disappointed us. JJ for eg.

Ariff Sabri 19 January 2009 at 15:44  

a john,
but JJ i think is the exception rather than the rule. he is the rogue gone astray. in his younger days, he used to be a role model to many younger students in Pekan and Kuantan. but when he reportedly threw away the buah rambai the mother gave him because the big mama and children who are brought up as city folks may not like them, he lost all respect people have of him.

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