Bizarre for PH to embrace UMNO at its weakest point

I FIND UMNO deputy president and current Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan to be a frank and straightforward person.

He admitted in a recent ceramah while campaigning for the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate in the Pelangai state by-election that UMNO was forced to latch on to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition after their disastrous performance in the 15rh General Election (GE15).

Because UMNO was politically drowning, it had no choice but to go along with the PH coalition as per the advice of the Yang Di-pertuan Agong (YDPA) to support the unity government.

Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan

Apart from his failure to resolve the longstanding Gatco settlers’ issue, the former Negri Sembilan menteri besar could been appointed to as the UMNO president. In some segments within UMNO, he is more acceptable to the party’s current president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Being largely non-controversial, Mohamad could be seen as a better UMNO president. Such a move could have turned around to some extent the sagging political fortunes of UMNO.

Regretfully, Mohamad still thinks that there is political future for UMNO. In his ceramah, he talked about how UMNO could improve itself by preparing for the next GE16.

The Rembau MP thinks that there is future for UMNO in the GE16. On what basis he paints such an optimistic scenario remains to be deciphered.

But UMNO is like a burning candle that will glow the brightest before it is extinguished forever. Seriously, I have no hard feelings towards the party; it was once part of the glorious political history of the country – the champion of Malays.

But all that is history now.

UMNO downfall not unexpected

There is no way that UMNO could make a political comeback as the horses have sought an exodus after the gates were left open for a long time. UMNO or BN’s political eclipse is not something unique to the party or the grand coalition.

It represents the life cycle of most political parties that came to power in the aftermath of the colonial rule. The same fate is being suffered by the Congress Party in India under the tutelage of the Gandhi family.

The same thing happened to the Kuomintang party in Taiwan that came to power on the eve of political independence. There are many other examples of political parties that suffered a similar fate after long years of political independence.

It is wrong to single out UMNO as the only victim of the post-independence political processes. MCA, MIC and Gerakan might still exist but their fate is not different to that of UMNO.

It is difficult, emotional and heart wrenching for many in UMNO to think of the demise of the party. It was just not external influences that took the toll on the party. Greed, corruption, arrogance and others were the internal factors that reduced the effectiveness of the party in the eyes of ordinary Malays.

UMNO was the main vehicle of the socio-economic advancement of the Malays. After 60 years, it dawned upon the Malays that UMNO was nothing but vehicle for the elite and super rich Malays.

Under such economic, political and social circumstances, the narrative of UMNO as the representative of the Malays could not be sustained.  It was just a matter of time with the arrival of other Malay religious and ethnic parties, a counter narrative developed – a counterpoint to the official narrative of UMNO.

It is strange that other political forces in the country sought to embrace UMNO at its weakest point in history, ostensibly on the grounds of its Malay base. But UMNO has no Malay base; whatever exists is being fast eroded by the oppositional forces in the PN.

The unity government has the support of the non-Malays particularly Chinese through DAP and limited extent PKR. Indians might be not the mainstay of the PH-BN coalition anymore considering their rapid desertion rate from the fold of the ruling coalition.

If UMNO collapses, is there a future for the unity government? – Sept 29, 2023


Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also the former deputy chief minister II of Penang.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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