Top three blogs

English blogs


Umno, BN

Techs, guide, templates

MPs and Aduns

Latest from Beras Terpilih

News blogs

2008 list

Videos and Photos

Videos courtesy of Hanief

Monday, October 29, 2007

Will delegates rise to the occasion?

KUALA LUMPUR (NST, 29/10/2007): Will this year’s Umno general assembly again be a platform for some delegates to continue demanding projects, allocations and other perks from the party leadership?

Will they also continue to demand for business protection, or have they changed their attitudes to be prepared for competition?

For the 61-year-old party that won the nation’s independence 50 years ago, many expect the leadership to steer some three million members towards openness, transparency and possibly, meritocracy.

The hope for positive changes within the mindset of Umno members is high, as reflected by party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s relentless calls for members to discard the subsidy mentality as well as not to depend solely on government largesse.

Yet, as reflected at last year’s party assembly, and in previous years’, global changes do not seem to affect the mentality of party members. Strong demands were made last year for the government to provide business opportunities for members.
At the same time, however, there are many successful Malay entrepreneurs whose voices were not heard during the party assemblies.

Why the discrepancies, and are Umno members ready to change their minds about accepting the reality of economics and the economy?

Umno Youth secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the party was prepared to address the issues of competition and meritocracy, and had handled the delicate matters well for the past few years.

“While we are addressing these issues, we don’t want the rights of the Malays to be taken away. We don’t reject competition.

“To really change the mindset of the Malays and Umno members in particular, we need to understand that it must be changed based on the timetable set by the Malays, and not imposed by anyone from outside.”

If force was used, he said, it would complicate the situation and thwart efforts to move towards openness and competitiveness.

Abdul Rahman’s view is more in the mode of “ready but not yet", and this may reflect the level of preparedness of the Malays in general.

Does this mean the Malays, especially Umno members, are not really geared to face challenges and competition?

Terengganu Umno information chief Datuk Ahmad Shabery Chik said Umno leaders and many party members understood that one has to be liberal and open to accept globalisation and the power of market forces to be economically successful.

“At the same time, Malays at the lower end are unsure about how globalisation affects them. They are worried their rights will be affected.

“We haven’t come to the stage where opening up will not affect us as we are still ’protected’. However, the prime minister’s initiative in setting up economic corridors is a step in the right direction as it will lift the Bumiputeras to be on par with their counterparts overseas.”

He said the bottom line for Umno, being a Malay party, is to safeguard Malay interests. If not, he said, Umno risked becoming irrelevant.

A strong hint in Shabery’s remarks is that the issue is not about whether Umno members understand competition and globalisation; it is more to do with accepting the real challenges.

Wanita Umno secretary Datuk Faridah Hassan said members fully understood the present economic scenario, and this would be seen and heard during the debate on economic issues at the general assembly next week. While she sounded confident, it may not reflect the consensus among party grassroots.

For politicians whose political lives are spent among the kampung people, a slow and steady approach is preferred, with leaders educating members.

Kudat Umno division vice-chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said not every party member understood the importance of such issues.

It was more proper for the upper and middle-level leadership to understand the changes taking place to be able to explain them to grassroots members, he said.

Ampang Wanita Umno chief Dr Rozaidah Talib also admitted that women in the party were more concerned with issues directly affecting the grassroots such as addressing social problems.

“That doesn’t mean we are not concerned with globalisation or competitiveness but we have to have our priorities.”

Such honesty is expected to reflect the tone of debate during the Umno assembly. However, it may also have more of the same demands — more protection and more business opportunities from the government.

Yet it does not mean the leadership must bow to all the demands as the party president is expected to appeal for members to be more understanding and appreciative of the challenges around them.

Changing the mindset is also easier said than done, but appreciating the present success and striving to do better may hold the key for Umno members, and the Malays in general, to accept competition.

It means accepting the fact that Malays can be successful in an open field, although it may take some time for it to be the norm.

It is up to Umno delegates to show to all, including non-Umno and non-Malay observers next week, that they are already moving in that direction, and are not getting stuck in protectionism that only breeds mediocrity.


Top three blogs

Listed by The Wayang Party Club of Singapore Malaysia Today
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
Lim Kit Siang

English blogs


MPs, Aduns

2008 list

  © Blogger template 'Perfection' by 2008

Back to TOP