It was an impressive speech to arouse the UMNO “storm-troopers” (to use the word favoured by the Deputy UMNO President and Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his speech to the joint general assemblies of UMNO Youth and Wanita yesterday) although from the desultory applause from the crowd, it was clear that the “storm-troopers” had immediate doubts whether it was sufficient to win the hearts and minds of the people, in particular the Malays who have abandoned UMNO in droves. Although live telecast cameras kept returning to the UMNO Puteri delegation, as if they were models on stage, it was difficult to discover great enthusiasm for Mahathir’s speech - with one UMNO Puteri unable to stop her yawn.
It was vintage Mahathir in his xenophobic rhetoric against the conspiracy of “foreigners and their media” out to impoverish and reduce Malaysia into a client-state, that one wonders why the foreign media correspondents are still allowed in the country let alone permitted to cover the UMNO General Assembly.
It was another classic example of Mahathir in denial, putting the blame for the country and UMNO’s woes on everybody else, whether foreign or local, but himself and his policies of the past two decades.
In railing against reformasi and raising the spectre of the riots, mayhem and killings in Indonesia, Mahathir has failed to realised that the reforms and change Malaysians want is not reformasi ala-Indonesia, but reforms and changes fully in the Malaysian context and political culture to restore public confidence in the rule of law, system of justice, human rights, democracy and good and incorrupt governance without which there can be no return to a robust economy.
Mahathir seems to have forgotten that his speech, telecast live, is not only to the UMNO delegates assembled at the UMNO General Assembly and to the Malays in the country, but to all Malaysians as well.
Both Malays and non-Malays cannot but feel sad at Mahathir’s two-hour speech, not only in his refusal to recognise the legitimate reasons and causes as to the increasing popular disenchantment with the Mahathir administration but to set the example of being a model Malaysian.
Malaysians, whether Malays or non-Malays, have reason to feel sadder that Mahathir has turned his back on Vision 2020 and Bangsa Malaysia concept when he could use the monopoly of Malays as the Vice Chancellors in the country’s universities since the New Economic Policy as the UMNO’s claim to continued support from the Malays.