Commentary Politics

Umno dissenters before Muhyiddin never embraced opposition

Muhyiddin (left) and Mukhriz still can't decide where their politics will take them post-Umno.

Written by Aziz Hassan

“Mid-week Notes” A weekly column – 29/06/16

What’s so difficult Muhyiddin; just form a new party and put the support for you to a test

IT’S elementary really but sometimes you wonder why even the more experienced amongst them need to think two or three times to decide what they should do next.

Umno, the country’s most dominant political party since the year it was formed in 1946, finally decided to sack its former deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and former Kedah mentri besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir and suspend the membership of a vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal for acting against the interests of the party and also co-habitating with the opposition.

Considering what they had said and done since early this year especially, the decisions could be said to be long overdue, although some cannot understand why action should be taken at all and others suggesting that Umno has only killed itself.

Muhyiddin and friends are now looking at the best platform to continue his “struggles”. A now non-active journalist friend suggested that perhaps the politicians with Parti Amanah Negara should be gracious enough to make way for Muhyiddin’s group and allow them to take over the leadership.

But why should Mat Sabu and his band of former PAS leaders do this when they too have their own ambitions? Why should they allow anyone to hijack their ship, no matter how friendly and conciliatory the suitors look?

Surely forming a political party cannot be too difficult for Muhyiddin and Mukhriz.

Once you have your own party you can give yourself any position or title. Well, at least until someone else thinks you ought to be sidelined, as was the case with Datuk Zaid Ibrahim and the Kita he formed.

Having your own party is also the best way to put your money where your mouth is. Show them that you have the support and can easily start off with something like 1.2 million members. Prove to everyone that Umno is truly dead and buried the day it sacked you and that your party is now the place to be.

The point is in reality, Muhyiddin and like-minded politicians who no longer hold office must be aware that it is not as easy as it sounds, regardless how many million Malaysians declare their willingness to march with you.

Back to the decisions against the three.

Sackings and suspensions are nothing unusual in Umno or any other political party in Malaysia.

One case that has often been referred to by political commentators was the one that affected former prime minister/Umno president Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

Mahathir was dumped out in 1969 for his vocal criticisms of the leadership of Tunku Abdul Rahman, returning to Umno a few years later only after Tunku’s successor Tun Razak Hussain had taken over the leadership.

When Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister and one time Mahathir blue-eyed boy, was sacked from the party in 1998, Mahathir was ironically the party president.

Umno has been in crisis before – during the Team A vs Team B period in 1987 and in the aftermath of the Anwar sacking.

The former was a storm from within while the latter saw a mass movement mainly of young people who took to the streets. There were concerns within the party of course but eventually Umno found itself on strong footing again.

There were also times when some dissenting voices criticised the leadership but the big difference is that there was no social media and online news portals then, which confined the criticisms to within the four walls.

The year 1987 was no different but those familiar with the Team B campaign can tell you that while they were a very unhappy lot with Mahathir, the campaign wasn’t venomous.

Further, one thing they didn’t do was to be seen grinning away in photos with opposition politicians and worse, sharing a campaign platform against the very party they publicly declare to love and were loyal to.

That was the fundamental difference between the dissenters then and the Muhyiddin group.




About the author


Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.