(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): My statement yesterday that the Malay Action Front’s (MAF) “Takkan Melayu Hilang Di Dunia” Gathering at the Putra World Trade Centre was the strongest and most open challenge to the Mahathir-Abdullah UMNO leadership from inside UMNO since the Team A-Team B split and the Razaleigh revolt in 1987 had been quickly vindicated by events. (I had excluded the even stronger Anwar Ibrahim challenge to Mahathir as this was never allowed to take place within UMNO).
The first was the reaction by the Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President, Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who said that Umno members should use the proper channel to convey their dissatisfaction against the party and government leadership when commenting on criticisms levelled at the party and government at the gathering.
The second was the blistering attack of the gathering on the UMNO-online
website lambasting the MAF gathering for not wanting to find ways to protect
Malay interests but merely to project the speakers as Malay champions
and the devastating verdict:
“Kesimpulan kepada semua ucapan hari itu ialah Dr. Mahathir dan kepimpinan hari ini tidak berkesan lagi. Merekalah yang bagus.
“Kecuali ucapan Tan Sri Awang Had Salleh dan Tun Ghafar Baba, idea pemidato lain bolehlah dianggap tidak relevan. Lebih tepat kalau mereka ini dipanggil wakil Mahfuz dan Ezam. Perkara-perkara yang mereka ucapkan bukanlah baru dan telah pun didengar dalam ceramah pembangkang.”
Thirdly, the expressions of regret by two UMNO Deputy Ministers who were among the nine speakers at the MAF “Takkan Melayu Hilang Di Dunia” gathering, Datuk Khalid Yunus (information) and Datuk Sulaiman Mohamad (health) yesterday to the Utusan Malaysia at the criticisms made against UMNO at the gathering although both did not feel any regret 24 hours earlier on Sunday as to make clear their position or even to stage a walk-out.
Although both the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Deputy Prime Minister had claimed that UMNO was not involved and never agreed to the rally being held, everybody knows that it could not be held without the blessings from both of them - or a police permit would not have been issued to an unregistered and illegal society like MAF to hold the gathering in the very inner sanctum of UMNO headquarters at the PWTC!
In fact, Mahathir was so intimately involved with the gathering that he could say on its eve on Saturday that he had “received information that certain elements are out to take advantage to create trouble and stage demonstration” at the gathering and that "Some people will join such open rally to create trouble, unfurl banners and the like" if it was held at its original site in Kampong Baru, Kuala Lumpur.
The question is how the MAF gathering held at the very inner sanctum of UMNO headquarters with the blessings of the top UMNO leadership had suddenly been transformed into the strongest and most open challenge to the Mahathir-Abdullah leadership from inside UMNO since the Razaleigh revolt in 1987 as it seems to be a contradiction in terms.
The reasons are probably because UMNO, after its election debacle
in the 1999 general elections where it has lost majority Malay voter support
for the first time in its history, is presently caught in a bundle
of contradictions - dominated by two impulses which are at times
complementary or contradictory to each other:
The strong and broadbased protests in the three days before the gathering in the form of police reports in various parts of the country by DAP, PAS, Parti Keadilan, PRM, NGOs, by Malaysians of different races and religions, Malays, Chinese, Indians, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, by both gender, against the highly provocative and seditious “10,000-People ‘Takkan Melayu Hilang Di Dunia’ Gathering” posters and banners calling on all "Malays to unite" using a design suggestive of an unsheathed keris in a sea of blood - which is most offensive, insensitive, inflammatory, provocative and taboo in multi-racial Malaysia - had made it difficult for the gathering to go on a rampage on the first impulse as intended, although irresponsible speeches such as the call on the government to totally reject the 83 Suqiu election appeals were made.
As a result, the second impulse in UMNO restive at the present leadership of UMNO under Mahathir took a higher profile and greater saliency in the speeches at the shadow-play gathering of “Takkan UMNO Hilang Di Dunia” camouflaged under the theme “Takkan Melayu Hilang Di Dunia”.
UMNO Supreme Council member Shahrir Samad’s comment that the MAF gathering on Sunday should be a wake-up call to UMNO is too strong, as the gathering failed to really focus on the issues of corruption and cronyism, political repression, the urgent need to restore public confidence in the judiciary and most important of all, the glaring and blatant injustice in the victimisation and persecution of Anwar Ibrahim - without which, there could be no hope for renewal for UMNO whatsoever.
Although UMNO renewal is an internal matter for the party, all Malaysians have a vested interest to ensure that the impulse in UMNO to regain lost Malay political support by scapegoating non-Malays and in particular the Chinese in a campaign to engineer and escalate recommunalisation of politics must not be allowed any room or space, as it will be a major setback for the 43-year Malaysia nation-building process destroying all hopes of Malaysia’s economic prosperity and national well-being.