Faith is belief in the absence of evidence. By this token, the argument that Umno will fall must seem like a fanciful notion. It appears to be based on faith since Umno has not and never collapsed before.
With the National Security Council Act instituted in 2016, the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the home affairs minister, indeed, the defense minister and the multimedia minister, as well as the head of the civil government, and the inspector-general of police, can by a vote of majority suspend the election.
Yet, Umno will fall in spite of such powers. This is because not all ministers in Umno and Barisan Nasional can stand the stench of corruption, malfeasance, and abuse of power — even if a large majority of them are. And the latest example of why Umno will fall come no other than Singapore, ostensibly the cleanest and corruption free republic in the world.
Take the dynasty of Lee Kuan Yew, for instance. For a good measure of half a century, Lee Kuan Yew created this aura of invincibility. That he and his family were clean and always above board.
That everything he built would turn to due process and fine laws, some literally; which led to Singapore being occasionally seen as the “fine” state since every indiscretion would lead to a fine.
With a focus on turning all government-linked companies (GLCs) into the coffer of the government — a template which Malaysia borrowed — Singapore cornered the whole economy, literally.
Even Taoist and Buddhist temples were not spared. To run efficiently, each temple would be taxed. In turn, a small portion of Muslims’ salary was deducted to help maintain the mosques, free from the general income tax of the secular Singapore government.
Indeed, Lee Kuan Yew himself once said that if he saw something was wrong with Singapore, he would “rise from the grave to set it right.” Yet the truth is, without democracy in place, things do go wrong.
Thus, his three children are now publicly fighting over his will. Should the house in 38 Oxley Road be demolished or kept as it is? And, that’s just a house built on damp, with the barest essentials inside.
Imagine Umno. A political dynasty that luxuriates in an obscene amount of wealth spliced with an astonishing level of greed, and one built on sheer hand over of power from the top to top.
From one prime minister to the other, it has been handed over from one leader to the other like an heirloom. Umno’s concept of democracy is not merely absent but practiced purely in its motherhood statements and platitudes. The Umno supreme council insists they have democracy. But they can suspend the triennial election all the way to end of 2018. Some even call this as a well-disguised democracy hiding behind a very feudal and patronage political system.
The fact of the matter is simply this: if Lee Kuan Yew cannot orchestrate his own will, all within a small family, how can Umno even deign to believe that it can escape the verdict of history? With 1MDB, the persistent accusations of financial misdeeds, and a corrupt spouse to boot, not one but throughout the cabinet, how can Umno not be eaten from the inside?
When the US Department of Justice (DOJ) revelations appear, guess who jumped up to defend the PM? Mohammad Puad Zakarshi, who is a small time in Umno Supreme Council, and Hishamuddin Hussin, the defense minister who seems to believe that being made a special functions minister in the irrelevant Prime Minister Department, seems to make him the potential successor to the prime minister.
In fact, in the mind of Hishamuddin Hussein, he should leapfrog over Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamid who is not considered sufficiently blue-blooded enough to be a prime minister let alone a deputy prime minister.
After all, two of Hishamuddin Hussein’s forebears were former president of Umno i.e. the grandfather, Onn Jaffar and his father, Hussein Onn who was the third prime minister of Malaysia.
With such sheer belief in self-entitlement, all without understanding the importance of leadership and good governance, how can Umno not fall? In fact, the unending saga of corruption, malfeasance, and abuse of power are the surest sign that Umno’s days are really numbered.
But Umno’s eventual fall will have nothing to do with the opposition per se. It will fall on the very axe which it likes to wield: sheer gibberish. Since when has anyone heard anything intelligible from Umno? Be it the rebuttal of 1MDB, or, the invitation to China to invest in Bandar Malaysia, the justification has been based on almost zero facts and at best some fairy tales from an imaginary world.
The US Department of Justice investigation is said to be civil. Not criminal. If it is civil, why not immediately counter with a civil suit to bring the missing billions home? Why let the US Department of Justice uncover the missing money on behalf of the Malaysian government or people? Don’t we have our very own democratic institutions that were established to serve and protect Malaysia and Malaysians? What happened to them?
China is also said to be keen on making Bandar Malaysia, the fount of major investment. But neither Wanda nor Ali Baba Group have been able to get anything above USD1 billion out of China in recent years due to China’s very own draconian capital control. Bandar Malaysia’s total land price is supposed to be USD20 billion. How can China even come to help Malaysia when China’s own billionaires are often in livid fear of the US Department of Justice and their own anti-corruption agencies in Beijing?
Umno is failing and falling. For the simple reason that it has failed in all its calculations to set things right through a democratic process of government.
RAIS HUSSIN is the Bersatu supreme council member and head of the party’s policy and strategy bureau.