KUALA LUMPUR – March 14, 2016: What Umno plans to do to its “rebels” is anybody’s guess, but many of its grassroots members felt that the upper echelons needed to change their strategy in dealing with the matter if they want to win the next general election.
The Mole talked to several known staunch ordinary members of the party and found out that they were mostly of the opinion that the party leaders have failed to set their priorities straight.
They felt that the higher-ups in Umno were too engrossed on how to deal with those who opposed them to the point that they may have forgotten about the people’s feelings.
“As it is, expelling party rebels would inflict more harm than good to the party,” said 64 years-old paddy farmer Osman Idris, an Umno member from Pendang, Kedah.
“But to conspire with the Opposition, especially Kit Siang (DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang) is definitely a big no-no…but even so, to keep on harping on the issue is also counterproductive,” he added, in reference to the latest move by former Umno president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in joining forces with the opposition parties in the attempt to unseat Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Another senior party member, Habsah Kamarulzaman, 58 from Guar Chempedak also holds the opinion that to go on an all-out offense against the party rebels was not the right way to solve Umno’s problems.
“It’s like they no longer understand the Malays,” said Habsah, “Malays don’t like it when you’re overdoing stuffs. Too much ‘santan’ (coconut milk) will spoil the broth.”
“And this campaign against Che Det (former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) is an excellent example of taking things too far,” she said.
She was referring to the slew of criticisms and disparaging remarks about Dr Mahathir by several Umno leaders who had vowed their unyielding loyalty to Najib.
These leaders were at the fore front in lambasting not only Dr Mahathir but also other party rebels including suspended deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Jerlun division chief and former Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.
Some even went as far as saying that these party rebels were “pengkhianat bangsa Melayu” (traitors of the Malay race).
Based on the interviews with the ordinary Umno members, it could be concluded that they had “makan hati” (offended) because of the actions of the so-called traitors. That, despite the rebel’s insistence that they were actually trying to save the party.
Nonetheless, those interviewed still insisted that they do not condone the incessant flogging of the party rebels because “traitor or not they are still Malays.”
“He’s an old man,” said another party member Husaimi Amsyar from Naka about Dr Mahathir.
“There is no way that one could mock a 90 years-old man and not ended up sounding like an ingrate.”
“They (Umno upper echelons) should instead put in more effort to ‘pujuk balik’ (appease) those who have ‘merajuk’ (sulk),” said the 60 years-old fruit merchant.
Husaimi insisted that Najib have made it clear to everyone that he will stay on as the prime minister until his term ends, so there was no need for the “loyalist” leaders “to rub salt onto the naysayers’ wound”.
“At the end of the day, the victory of the ‘dacing’ (Barisan Nasional) will be determined by the people,” said Faridah Yaakob a 56 years-old housewife from Jitra.
“And they cannot deny the fact that people are angry at them regardless whether they are right or not. So, it would be wise for the higher ups in Umno to start appeasing the people.
“It looks like they are winning the battle right now, but that is only for now. What if the odds are no longer in their favour?
“If they have already managed to appease us when that happens, then at least the damage won’t be so bad,” she pointed out.
All of those interviewed deemed that to appease the people, especially the Malays was not extremely difficult.
To them, Umno should do what they do best, which according to them was taking care of the Malays, especially “those in the kampong” (Malays in the rural areas).
“It’s not as if we are completely neglected, it’s just that things were not this ugly back then (before the previous general election),” stressed Osman.
They were also of the view that instead of getting bogged down by politics, the Barisan Nasional government needs to do more right now in tackling the rising cost of living, especially for those in the villages.
“It’s strange that despite the glowing reports about our country’s economy, many of us in the kampong are still feeling the pinch. The government should do more about this than just getting worried over politics,” said Habsah.