Why Umno is seen as drifting further and further from the Malays?
How can the present crop of Umno leaders stop this gap from widening further?
It is annoying to hear Dato’s Sri Najib Tun Razak time and time again had to remind the Umno members to always be close to the people.
Yes we know that.
Umno leaders on the ground heard these calls from top leadership almost on weekly basis.
But do they understand the meaning of ‘getting close to the people’?
How to do this?
Umno, since the early 90’s was seen as a vehicle to gain shortcuts to riches. Not only the Malays, even the chinese and indians rode this vehicle in order to achieve wealth in a very non transparent manner – without much effort and struggle.
The young joined Umno because of the contracts they might be given. Using cables and whatever means they could find, their only objective in joining Umno is the commission they could get when they subcontract the project to their non malay friends.
Sometimes, they compare their success with their comrades with the amount of pink forms they could get from their patrons.
More often than not, any party activities no matter how mundane and simple will be laced with money making schemes.
If such ilk and ill-deserved methods were cultivated during the Pemuda stage, these same bunch of people will have the same culture when they become the top leaders of Umno.
When I was really young, I was a member of a Pemuda Umno. It was a very modest outfit. There were only 14 of us and all were between 18 to 23. The Ketua Pemuda cawangan had just graduated from the local university and awaiting calls to pursue his studies at overseas.
Our objective of existence? Just to have fun and perhaps contribute to the community.
One of the activities involved was inter party bowling competition, i.e., we organised a bowling competition between Umno Youth, MCA Youth, DAP Youth and PAS Youth.
The mothers, in other words, the Wanita Umno, Wanita MCA and Dewan Muslimah PAS prepared the food for the event.
We opened the competition to the kids in the neighbourhood as well. Thus, the ultimate aim is to bring the people closer together.
Although this aim was not realised by us at the time (we were of course, just wanted to have fun), the feelgood factor can be felt long after the event.
The Umno grassroots and its ordinary members must run the party like a ‘persatuan’.
Not like a money making vehicle which it has become today.
Do you remember how it was like in school when joining the scouts or the Interact Club? Did you even think about making money for yourself when you were in these clubs?
The only financial matter that you could have thought was – how to make money FOR the club. Not for yourself.
But these days, even after I am no longer an active member of Umno, the young ones had nothing much to say about contributing to the society other than talking about this contract, or that contract. They talked in the range of millions. Their idle chat while sipping coffee was only about scheming more money from their network of political bosses.
There is no more urgency or passion to talk about uplifting the Malays’ socio-economic situation in their conversation.
The reason I no longer play an active part in Umno is precisely because of that. Everyone is thinking about himself. I’d rather be in NGOs that directly tackle the socio-economic problems of the people.
There’s no longer genuine and selfless objective amongst the young Umno members. They don’t even believe in the core objectives of Umno. Their only interest is how to make money through their Umno membership.
Therefore, in order to appeal to the Malays, Umno must turn itself and operate like a persatuan.
Go back to your roots.
In addition to Datuk Sakmongkol’s “Umno and its low culture”, this approach is what Umno members must cultivate and endure.
Appealing oneself to the Malay heartland will only be successful if the members are fully involved in day to day party activities without the proclivity of wanting monetary returns.
60 years ago, the concept of contributing energy, time and sweat without any intention of gaining any monetary rewards was a norm.
Most Umno boys will spit on their leaders’ face (figuratively speaking) if they ask the boys to do something without given them some money in return. Naturally, a persatuan does not run this way.
But the ‘Persatuan’ Umno back in the old days were driven by this very concept of selfless deeds.
‘Semangat tolong menolong’, ‘gotong royong’ and ‘bantu membantu’ were the core message of Umno in the Malay heartland.
This is the basic value that Umno must re-propagate among themselves. Show the people that you are sincere.
It would be a bad example to see a Ketua Cawangan so busy counting surplus money obtained from the Umno HQ which was meant for a gotong royong activity when in fact, any surplus money should be recycled for the next activity.
It is a tall order indeed in changing a mindset.
But treat Umno like a ‘persatuan’ and we shall see some changes from there. Anybody who are selfish will be turned-off by this approach. Only the worthy and the selfless will soldier on and take up the cause.
There is nothing more simple than that.