Umno hates elections

There is a cultural oddity in Umno – well more of a logical oddity – they don’t like party elections.

Sixty-two years after formation they pride over the 6 faces only adorning the front page of Umno online . It is a badge of honour, a type of ” look at us, look at us we believe in longevity”. Even the Chinese Communist party changes party leadership more often.

Badawi nor Rafidah can decide when they leave, their members do. It is despicable having a succession plan by yourselves, Badawi telling us when he will pass the baton to Najib, and now Rafidah telling when she will leave as Wanita chief. What a bunch of bollocks.

A deep seated fear of change – that comes with open elections – almost grips the party as a paranoia of gigantic proportions.

The Razaleigh 87 challenge almost broke the party up.

The important thing however is how do you evaluate the level of democratic ideals within the party. Surely the party running the country and espousing democracy, should in the same vein have it in their party.

The last challenge before Razeleigh on Mahathir was Suleiman Ahmad aka Suleiman Palestine on Hussein Onn in the late seventies. The party has been largely averse to challenges since.

Why elections?

Elections bring to the centre crucial questions, and allow that question to be weighed by votes.

-To know whether the current stewardship of the party is good.

When people say something, like I don’t like Abdullah Badawi, you are not sure if they don’t like him or they loathe him. There is a huge difference between being a little miffed by your leader versus have an all-out opposition to him or her.

A vote forces that issue, it makes the actors in the party its members to crystallise their judgment of the current leadership and choose.

Being unable to choose disenfranchises members and creates no reliable means to actually weigh the internal party estimation of the leadership.

To say the status quo is fine, is to accept the there was widespread acceptance of Stalin’s 30 year rule throughout since no one was allowed to vote him out.

– To communicate ideas of both the incumbent and challenger

The incumbent is never likely to express clearly and cogently his/her message as much as when their position was at stake. And the challenger gets the opportunity to express his/her examination of the leadership, plus what the challenger wants to do with the party if given the mandate.

Without a vote, there is almost an admission that the performance of the party is fatalistic rather than deterministic. And when a party is completely fatalistic it does not develop a sense of organisation or purpose, therefore its belief structures will be perpetual photocopies.

They have no incentive to reinvent themselves, since the process of change is in the hands of the incumbent solely.

Every PM since Razak has been in power on the basis of patronage from his predecessor, what does that spell out. It does explain the wholesale ‘ rear-kissing’ culture permeating in Malaysia, especially in the civil service. Because it is who likes you that decides your fate.

Your service to your party members is not as important as what your boss thinks you have served the members and if any of that serving has affected him negatively.


-The legitimacy of the rule

Mahathir was sacked from the party after his poison pen and attacks on the Tunku following the 69 elections. He was the losing candidate in Kota Setar parliamentary seat. He was then brought back in by Razak. His only election result was in winning the Vice-presidency in 74. But so did Razaleigh.

When Hussein picked Mahathir over Razaleigh for the DPM position at the passing of Razak in 1976 he was making an arbitrary decision, which reduced the legitimacy of Mahathir as DPM and annointed deputy party president.

The whole idea of by-passing the mandate of your party voters reeks of feudalistic tendencies, and the worse of it is – when it is done by the party in power then the behaviour is replicated at all levels of government and society.


A person rising through patronage is unlikely to know politicking as well as those who have cut their teeth through a thorough rise in the party.

Look at Najib – the man boy. He has been riding on a wave of being a former president’s son. Almost entirely on it as the way the party is structured those who are in the inner circle of power rise quicker and faster.

Brickbats aside, more arbitrary values like pedigree and family connections are always going to be more vital in a party like Umno, when there is no emphasis on rising through the divisional ranks.

The conclusion

The stability excuse is red herring. Arguing that is similar to saying both Saudi and Brunei are democratic symbols since they have only had a family rule for what has been an eternity.

Change is synonymous with democracy, and there is no way – even if it is Utusan Malaysia writers – to argue for a lack of democratic processes within a political party as being indicative of more democracy.

Umno accepts at that things have to change within the party. Which is nice to say. Just like when you say – I love world peace.

But saying must lead to actual acts, and the act of barring people from contesting for the leadership of a struggling party is a move away from reform than to it.

These Umno boys – just because they have always been allowed to have their cake and eat it too. They even want their changes to come that way, with zero cost.

Leaders who get to choose when they leave, and open contests being referred to as being culturally foreign. What do they put in their water over there in PWTC?

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