03 December 2011

Why does Umno fear DAP so...

NONELooked at forensically, in politics the strength of some leader or party cannot be measured merely by the size of support he or she commands or that the party is capable of delivering.

The torrent of abuse that the DAP drew from speakers, both prominent and obscure, at the ongoing Umno general assembly testifies to this reality of leaders or parties weighing in the political balance in ways disproportionate to their strength in terms of membership or representation in legislatures.

Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin (left), expected to be menteri besar of Johor after the general election, acknowledged this reality when he speculated on the reasons why speakers at the Umno assembly targeted the DAP with special venom.

Deputy Prime Minister and deputy president of Umno Muhyiddin Yassin led the way in his address to the youth and women wings of the party where hebranded the DAP
as anti-Malay, anti-Islam and anti-royals.

This trinity of the DAP’s alleged antipathies sums up what Umno construes as its raison d'etat, although given what had happened as recently as two decades ago, Umno cannot really be said to be for the royals.

Umno’s protection of royals has been proven to be expedient rather than principled.

Nevertheless, Muhyiddin had no hesitation in inducting them into the trinity of DAP’s alleged abjurations because that way, it would make the opposition party especially worthy of Malay opprobrium.

Muhyiddin’s strictures set the cue for the rest of Umno to engage in a round of DAP-bashing the like of which has seldom been seen before in Malaysia’s race-warped politics.

Subterranean fear

Though Khaled offered reasons for the DAP-centred ire of Umno delegates - that the party is seen, realistically or imaginarily, as the dominant force in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition and that its partners, PAS and PKR, are viewed by Umno as beatable - he only touched the surface of the fears that Umno harbours towards the DAP.

NONELeft unspoken is the subterranean fear that in Lim Guan Eng (right in photo) at least, the DAP may have a leader that ordinary Malays would eventually acknowledge as worthy of support for reasons that help explain Umno’s slumping popularity: he has run a frugal and clean government in Penang enabling the administration to adopt the welfare aspects of a social democracy that are bound to impact beneficently on poor Malays; and he is presiding over an impressive revival of the state’s industry through increased FDIs.

In sum, he has been a success in the last three-and-a-half years of his tenure and, if things continue the way it promises, his success would be more undeniable and would resound throughout the country.

That would only do more good to the idea that a DAP-fueled Pakatan would not be what Umno want Malays to think it would, which is that is a disaster for the Malays, their religion and rulers.

The dispelling of that fear scares Umno stiff - for good reason.

Race-straitened vision

The entire Umno political outlook is based on the notion that only a Malay leader can be good for like-race people.

There can be no race crisscrossing in this single-tracked vision. To be captive to this race-straitened vision helps Umno promote its sterile dominance of Malaysian politics.

NONEIf Umno feels that PAS and PKR are beatable, it is because it feels that deep down it can make a deal with them on the basis of sameness of religion and of race.

That is what Umno means when it says PAS and PKR are “beatable”. Having no great devotion to principle, Umno feels that the parochialism of same race and religion would trump all other considerations.

If Umno feels it cannot entice a strongly Chinese-backed DAP to replace MCA and Gerakan in its ruling coalition, it would attribute the failure not to DAP’s principled opposition to race-based politics so much as inherent Sino-centrism.

This is the besetting weakness of the parochial outlook: it cannot conceive of a reality that is not based on the sectarian.

That is why when Umno needed at its current assembly - the last one before it goes to what is widely regarded as a future-defining polls - to dig deep into whatever resources of political ingenuity it had, it came up with nothing except jingoism and venom. - Terence Netto




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