“We have won 13 times and lost once. They lost 13 times and won once. The difference between us and them is that after we lost, many ran away.”
This must have caught the attention of many Malaysians, coming from an Umno Supreme Council member at last weekend’s annual party assembly. Johari Abdul Ghani, the former second finance minister under Najib Razak, brought this up in the lion’s den, so to speak.
He did not mince his words nor did he pussyfoot when he urged party members to take note of PKR and DAP elected representatives who had remained firm and stuck with their parties through thick and thin despite losing multiple times.
The Federal Territories Umno chief was obviously referring to the 13 Umno MPs who had switched to PPBM soon after the 14th general election (GE14). He may not have said much but it was obvious that Johari was talking of the importance of political honour and resilience here.
DAP and PAS won 42 and 18 parliamentary seats respectively in GE14 with none crossing over to any other party. PKR succeeded in winning 48 seats but 13 of its MPs have switched to PPBM or become Perikatan Nasional (PN) friendly.
“I’m not trying to praise other parties, but I’d like all of you (delegates) to take a look at DAP and PKR,” he said at the annual gathering which is known for its race and religious rhetoric.
The delegates and leaders never fail to crucify the DAP, PKR and Anwar Ibrahim at all the assemblies, with the real problems faced by Malaysians taking a backseat.
Obviously Johari took the bull by the horns, sending the message that political resilience in the party has taken a back seat to power and positions.
In not so many words, he denounced party hopping, something that is tearing the nation’s political stability apart. By highlighting arch rivals DAP and PKR as examples, he has shown his political maturity.
Knowing the audience, it could have worked against him. Especially when in the same breath, he did not mince his words in criticising his party leaders in the current government.
It was indeed refreshing to hear a sane voice in the political madness we are facing currently. Soon after this, we were treated to another voice of reason, and a breath of fresh air too.
It was Nazir Razak, the son of second prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein and the architect of the New Economic Policy (NEP). Nazir’s elder brother is former prime minister Najib.
Instead of blindly defending his father’s policy for racial and political reasons, Nazir was brutally honest in saying many of the principles in the NEP no longer work and have instead led to dysfunctional politics and growing divisions among Malaysia’s communities.
The former CIMB group chairman said the NEP principles, many of which have remained since its institution in 1970, had manifested themselves in “our dysfunctional politics, our economic data and the growing divisions”.
But what struck people most was this: “Do we have to wait for fighting in the streets or for us to be a failed state before we deal with reforms?”
Nazir said the current state of emergency, political instability and public frustration should be proof enough that changes were needed.
He said studies showed that elected representatives were increasingly losing touch with voters, and that they cannot rely on Parliament or on political parties, which basically have very short-term agendas.
And yesterday, former law minister Zaid Ibrahim called for a return to Umno’s founding days when the party held itself up based on sound principles and ethics.
Calling for a renewal of the party, he said Umno should revert to its noble struggle of defending Malays and Islam and be an organisation of high morals as exemplified by its founder Onn Jaafar.
He said the party had unfortunately descended into a state where it would “split and fade” soon, based on the diatribes at its general assembly held last weekend.
We all know that “one swallow does not make a summer”, but you cannot blame Malaysians if they ask whether these three sane voices can drown out the views of those who do not have the interests of the country at heart.
But my point is, these three voices chose not to play to the gallery like many do. And the way they dissected the issues was sharp and bold.
Being the eternal optimist, I am confident there is hope for such voices to grow and become influential in shaping the minds of all Malaysians. But it can only be done if the many silent voices of reason break out and speak up.
We need to have such voices of sanity from Malaysians of all races, religions, parties and walks of life, and this must turn into a movement that can cause a peaceful revolution in the country to put things right.
All Malaysians need a vaccination of honesty, humility and mutual acceptance before we can acquire herd immunity against the political pandemic caused by racism, treachery, dishonesty and rent-seeking.