Mahathir reaching back to British colonial rule over a century ago to copy the   British Adviser system  to maintain his power base in UMNO and protect his 19-year "legacy" as Prime Minister

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang,  Friday): Someone pointed out in an Internet  posting today  entitlted "Millennium Circus"  that "The man who warns us on New Year's Day that Ďformer  colonial masters have plans to recolonise usí is one who uses laws (the ISA, the OSA,  the Sedition Act, etc.) which originate from the British Empire and fine-tuned to serve his own purpose".

It is ironic but true that while Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad loves to berate colonial masters and imperialist powers, the Prime Minister has no qualms in using their tactics of rule and even to refine them - as in making the Malaysian Official Secrets Act even more draconian than the British Official Secrets Act.

In the new millennium, the Prime Minister has reached back to British colonial rule over a century ago to copy the British Adviser system to maintain his power base in UMNO and protect his 19-year "legacy".

Over the past decades, Mahathir had poked fun at the British colonial rule for devising the British Adviser system for Malay Rulers, first introduced in the Pangkor Engagement of 1874 with Perak, requiring the latter to seek and act on British advice.

Now, Mahathir has imported this British Adviser system into UMNO politics, when on Monday, the UMNO Supreme Council took an unanimous decision that there shall be no contest for the two top UMNO posts in the UMNO General Assembly May 11-13, 2000.

After the UMNO Supreme Council meeting on Monday, Mahathir said the "no-contest" decision for the two top UMNO posts was not a "directive" but "only an advice" and that the UMNO state chiefs have been asked to "convey this stand and advise the branches and divisions".

On Wednesday, Mahathir had to reiterate that UMNO members are not forced to adopt the Supreme Councilís "no contest" advice as it was a decision made by the UMNO Supreme Council and the members had the right not to abide by it.

Of course, the UMNO Supreme Councilís "advice" is mere "advice", just like the "advice" of the British Residents to the Malay Rulers during the British colonial rule in the Malay states!

UMNO had always boasted that it is not only the largest political party in the country but the most democratic.  But what we are seeing is UMNO assuming Stalinist features and forms, as in the "no contest" decision of the UMNO Supreme Council meeting on Monday, where the UMNO Supreme Council itself has been reduced to a "rubber stamp".

For his own political good and future and those of the country, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi should ask the UMNO Supreme Council to rescind the "no-contest" decision as far as the post of UMNO Deputy President is concerned  - so that he could secure political legitimacy not only as a properly elected UMNO Deputy President but even more important, for his eventual ascension as the fifth  Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The  UMNO Supreme Council's no-contest decision for the party's two top posts is to protect Mahathir and his "legacy" but  will undermine Abdullah Badawi's political legitimacy if he becomes the first UMNO "no-contest" Deputy President in the 54-year history of the party.

In the past few years, the UMNO Constitution had been repeatedly amended to make it more and more Stalinist, as for instance, requiring those aspiring to contest the Umno presidency to first get  at  least 30% of the nominations from the party's 165 divisions, i.e. 50 branches. For the deputy presidency, a candidate needed nominations from 33 divisions  or at least 20% of all divisions.

Those vying for the three vice-presidents' posts must  each get 10%, or 17 divisions, of the nominations, while contestants for  supreme council seats must have at least 5% or eight divisions nominating each of them.

Previously, candidates for supreme council seats were eligible to contest after  receiving nominations from at least two divisions.

Now, there are some UMNO leaders vying to come out with suggestions as to how to make UMNO even more Stalinist and undemocratic, as in extending the "no contest" rule to the three Vice Presidential posts and barring those who are not Ministers or Deputy Ministers from standing for Supreme Council posts.

If the latter proposal is accepted, this will mean that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah would be barred from contesting in the UMNO party elections in May although he would be considered candidate material for either one of the two top UMNO posts.  UMNO would then become a party for Ministers and Deputy Ministers only.

I do not know whether Mahathir is aware that Malaysians are getting more and more cynical about  his speeches and statements, as for instance, his call to UMNO members to "observe ethics, maintain decency and avoid using money to woo support when campaigning in the party elections" - after UMNO had been instrumental in making the tenth general election on Nov. 29, 1999 the dirtiest in the nationís history.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman