It is no secret that UMNO’s strength comes from rural voters. UMNO’s divisional and branch leaders speak the lingua-franca of the many old kampung folks. For the last 55 years, UMNO customizes its welfare activities to suit these poor kampung voters in mind. Popular programs such as Wanita’s Squad Sayangku brought along hampers to the bedridden and the have-nots. So strong were the bond between old kampung folks and UMNO branch leaders, that it would be unthinkable to vote for anyone else.
Nonetheless, the younger generation of rural voters did not share the same attachment. Worst still, once these children leave for the cities and come back as graduates, they become major infuence to their parents. Political ideals and reasonings come to play, “No, it is not us that needs to be grateful to the government of the day. It is the government who should be thankful to us for voting them in.”
The most crucial argument resolves around the fact that UMNO is not the same as New UMNO. Though New UMBO (NUMNO) may inherit the old UMNO’s name and financial assets. NUMNO did not inherit the UMNO’s core values.
FIRST, members of the old UMNO fought for the cause. That is, to ensure that the Malays will be given ample opportunity to compete on equal ground with the non-Malay businessmen. (During Malaya’s 300-year occupation, the non-Malays were given preferential treatment to do business in Malaya, whereas the Malays were left to tend to their small padi-plantation activities, without assistance).
Today’s NUMNO fight for the party. The cause is to enrich party members and those ‘friendly’ to the party, irrespective whether the policies imposed is detrimental to the Malay community as a whole. Example includes the irreconcilable conversion of Malay Reserve Land into property development projects.
Super-senior UMNO veterans also chided, “Before we—UMNO politicians—were willing to donate to the party for the cause. Nowadays, the cause is to make money.”
SECOND, the old UMNO’s politicians already have full time jobs, i.e, teachers, writers, political activists, etc. A number of NUMNO’s politician-wannabes are budding entreprenuers looking for jobs.
If before, during UMNO era, those appointed as MPs are first-class graduates. Nowadays, under NUMNO, there are scholarships made available for high-school (successfully-elected) MPs, so as to obtain their first degree.
Thus, critics also complained that if before UMNO politicians would go out of their way to create new jobs for the Malays; today NUMNO’s politicians find the most lucrative government jobs to be given to members of their own family or their hard-core supporters.
THIRD, UMNO’s ministers were appointed based upon their creativeness in introducing new, creative projects for the betterment of the Malay people and their commitment for THE CAUSE. Tun Razak and Tun Dr Ismail were examplary examples as a people-at-heart leaders. Tun Razak created FELDA to help the homeless and jobless Malays to own and work on their goverment-allocated lands.
Today’s NUMNO leaders have no time to think, instead prefer to copy everything. Well, almost everything. When Tun Mahathir created Dataran Merdeka; state leaders created a multitude of datarans. Dataran Sejarah. Dataran Pahlawan. Etc. There are also those who copied the full name, Dataran Merdeka.
When Cyberjaya’s Multimedia SuperCorridor was created back in 1997, most states have their own version of multimedia cities. What was supposed to hover an area of 29 sq km within Putrajaya’s new administrative city; today Malaysia’s version of Silicon Valley include as far north as Penang, and as far south as Melaka.
FOURTH, the old UMNO was not afraid of competition. Public debates—in highschools, universities and even in party divisional levels—were encouraged, so as to weed out the bad speakers. Today, NUMNO believes that competition divides members. It is therefore up to the Chief—most likely be the Division Head—to pick and chose whomever he likes to be pushed up the political ladder.
FIFTH, the Executive, Judicial and Legislature branches of the government was strickly adhered to under the old UMNO. Each branch respected one another. Today, under NUMNO, the dividing line becomes ever thinner. The Executive and Judicial branch are now made to suck up to the Legislature, for their ultimate survival.
Nope, NUMNO is not UMNO. NUMNO came to being in 1987 during Tun Mahathir’s premiership, when the old UMNO was deregistered by a court order. It resulted in the removal of the Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas, and the death of the Malaysian Judiciary.