UMNO leaders clueless of Malaysians’ desires – Posted by St Low

The Malaysian Insider | 24-Sept-2008 – With each passing day, it gets clearer that Umno politicians are clueless about what Malaysians desire.

Everyone of them – Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Najib Abdul Razak, Muhyiddin Yassin, Syed Hamid Albar, Muhammad Muhammad Taib, Hishammuddin Hussein – speaks about the need for the ruling party to adapt to the new environment and aspirations of better educated Malaysians.

Some of them even toss around the word reform like a six-letter Frisbee. But their idea of reform is anchored firmly on their world view and their value system.

That is why every Umno minister shot down the plan of reviewing the Internal Security Act, the law which allows detention without trial. Defending the hardline position, Syed Hamid, the Home Minister, said that preventive laws were still needed for people to live in peace and security.

Other Umno ministers have argued that the silent majority were in favour of tough laws, and that the agitation for a review of the ISA was the work of Opposition politicians and a sprinkling of non-governmental organizations.

They are wide off the mark. A survey by the Merdeka Centre, a polling agency, showed that the majority of Malaysians do not believe that it is necessary to use the ISA to safeguard national security.

Some 3,600 people were polled (49 per cent Malays, 31 per cent Chinese, 8 per cent Indians, 6 per cent Sabah Bumiputeras and 6 per cent Sarawak Bumiputeras). Seventy-per cent of the respondents disagreed that it is “necessary to detain people without trial to safeguard national security.”

When broken down to each race these were the findings: Malays – 71 per cent disagreed that it was necessary to use ISA to safeguard national security; Chinese ( 79 per cent); Indians (90 per cent), Sabah Bumiputera (71 per cent) and Sarawak Bumputera (66 per cent).

In short, the vast majority of Malaysians do not believe that the government was justified in wielding the ISA against the Hindraf 5, Raja Petra Kamaruddin and others.

This sentiment against the detention without trial also explains why Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his comrades in Pakatan Rakyat have been spectacularly successful in drawing large crowds to anti-ISA gatherings.The Opposition gets it.

Yes, Malaysian want peace and stability but they are not going to accept this at any cost. More so from a government that has failed miserably in its attempt to explain why the ISA was used on a journalist and a DAP MP.

Umno does not get it. It is still using all the old assumptions about the country. And this navel gazing disease has spread beyond those who hold ministerial positions.

Umno supreme council member Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Chik presented a stout defence of the New Economic Policy in Mingguan Malaysia on Sunday.

It was complete with the usual warnings to non-Malays about trying to usurp the special privileges of the Malays.

He also warned Malays against being duped by Anwar’s Malaysian Economic Agenda, stopping short of painting a doomsday scenario for the race if the Opposition icon came to power. Perhaps his view is informed only by his close circles of friends in Umno, maybe his officials in his division in Malacca.

The Merdeka Centre survey shows that 58 per cent Malays say that as original inhabitants of this country, the Malays should be accorded with special rights and privileges while 40 per cent say that people should be accorded the same rights in Malaysia regardless of race or religion.

In short, while the majority of Malays want special privileges for the race to continue, significant numbers have no qualms about treating, other communities equally.

Of more interest to Rahim and his party members is this finding: that 48 per cent of Malays polled felt that the NEP benefits only the rich and politically-connected. Four years ago, 60 per cent Malays felt that the NEP benefited ordinary Malays.

Today this percentage has dropped to 42 per cent.

So the next time Syed Hamid Albar or Rahim Thamby Chik presume that there are speaking on behalf of Malaysians or Malays, they would do well to check their facts.

With every passing day, it appears that the view they represent is not the dominant view of the land.

– The Malaysian Insider

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