Can Umno resurrect itself?

By Choo Sing Chye

Conservative Party, the present government of Britain started life as a villainous mob. In the 17th century, the Tories (Conservatives) were robbers who roamed the Irish countryside.

Apparently all these villainous acts in Ireland earned them the nickname, “Popish Thieves”.

In 1832, they called themselves the Conservatives and they reinvented themselves through the centuries to become one of the strongest parties.

Today, the Conservative Party bears no resemblance to its roots although it is still referred to as the Tories. More importantly, it had exorcised its thieving past.

However, in the case of Umno, it is different. About 70 years ago, Umno started off as a grand and honourable party. Many of the top leaders were gentlemen and they based their core principles solidly on racial harmony and unity.

It seemed that Umno was right the first time for it shared many good traits of a decent party.

In addition, it was often in tune with the moderate ideological platform of the Conservatives and the Labourites.

Now, however, it has degenerated into a far-right racist party.

Under former president Najib Razak, Umno went through a big political shift. In a few years, it went from soft to extreme right. More often than not, its behaviour was indistinguishable from the fascists.

If one were to pigeonhole Najib’s political scheme through his administration, one can safely correlate it with the likes of Adam Walker of the British National Party, Marie Le Pen of the National Party and Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom of Netherlands.

These characters from Europe hate the Muslims and the coloured immigrants. The narrative that they used to define the minorities is interchangeable between the far right in Malaysia and Europe.

In Europe, the far right accuses the Muslims of taking over the country, in Malaysia, the Christians and the Chinese.

Consequently, what all these far right-wingers do best whether they are from Malaysia, Britain, France, Germany and Netherlands is to ferment hatred towards the minorities.

Thus, it is inevitable that the Barisan Nasional (BN) was abandoned by the new Sarawak-based pact formed by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

Their action is not that of a betrayal, but a punishment. A payback time for all the bullying and religious bigotry that they had to endure all this time under the BN.

For Umno to reclaim its glorious past, its leaders have to discard its racist past and move the party to the centre.

Anyway, it would be a herculean effort to move Umno to the centre because it has gone too far to the right to be a suitable party in a multiracial Malaysia.

Of all the candidates vying for the presidential post in Umno, only Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, in my opinion, fits the bill as a moderate centrist.
The rest are just cut and paste leaders of Najib’s era.

Choo Sing Chye is a FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.