The even-if party

Umno is a comedy in motion. Only thing that stifles my laugh is that they are in power – and been so for a considerable amount of time.

The even if candidacy…more of the same

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Ali Rustam are even-if candidates. They will run for deputy president of Umno if Najib chooses not to contest the deputy presidency which is conditional on him being elevated to the presidency when Abdullah Badawi decides to quit.

A few more are in line to contest the deputy presidency, including the Sabah ticket of Shafie Apdal and the linguistically challenged Muhammad Muhammad Taib.

But they all need to see a change in the above positions before they make a move.

Everyone who supports this thinking, that there has to be a programmed progression to the top, and rises only facilitated by voluntary departures – must remember the cause of the current malaise.

The Badawi proposition

Everyone is talking about reform in the party, and to “never ever return” to the current rudderless state they are in right now. They point their fingers at Abdullah Badawi, a certain long term MP of Kepala Batas and their party president.

They want to remove Badawi, because of what he stands for – indecisiveness, political inadequacies and a lacking personality.

They want to boot him out, but they want to continue with the sluggish manner in which leadership is selected in the  party – lineage, subservience and stagnancy.

Abdullah Badawi is an unremarkable middling official who rose and rose in the party, because of his willingness to hold to lineage, subservience and stagnancy.

The Penang man, who is really Abdullah Ahmad stuck to his grandfather’s name as a means to distinguish his religious credentials, of some hereditary value. It was not good enough that he was a graduate of Islamic Studies.

He relied on his lineage as much as he could – added so by his father’s Umno tenure as MP for the constituency he serves now.

In the heat of the 87 Umno battle, with defence minister Badawi siding with the bellicose Razaleigh Hamzah – the results of the dubious party elections reduced the Mahathir dissenters, now defeated to either challenge the result or to recant. Badawi went quiet and then decided to stay with Mahathir. Subservience personified.

Even in the lead up to the deputy president position – after Anwar’s sacking – Badawi was the least noise-making of the vice-presidents in line for a promotion.

The ministries run by Badawi – education, defence, finance and home – have all been about cautious consistency. Everything done by the previous guy with the safest possible changes. There are no major booboos in his time there, and no missteps. Leadership of the non-leading type. People today bitch about the scrapping of English as the main medium by Mahathir, and the Bahasa Baku travesty of Anwar, but you’ll hardly have issues with Badawi. He always lies below the radar.

He is stagnancy manifested.

And the change is…

They want him out now. But they are proposing the exact same means to decide the new leadership of the party. Are they kidding themselves?

Same old, same old.

What is on the table is the giving of the presidency to Najib, and the two vice-presidents wishing for an endorsement from him, and others are following in.

But these even-if candidates are playing the wait and see game, but is that not what is endemic about the party? At least Razaleigh is placing himself as presidential candidate irrespective of what Badawi does. He is convinced of his worthiness, and his worth is not to be determined by the willingness of others to let him have his change.

He is seeking no patronage.

Other than Najib’s obvious lineage, his career has been about subservience too. He could have been president already, if Mahathir picked him – without being an aggrieved man he willingly serves the man who beat him to the favour of Mahathir.

And he’d expect it from the new developing leaders in Umno, imagine two decades of continued explicit subservience, and implicit discontent. Of course the party is filled with rumours and their mongers. There is no other way, but to be dishonest about your true feelings in order to go up in the party.

Can honest Abe survive in Umno?

The stagnancy that is Umno, the Badawi model if you must is reaching endemic level. No one is interested in moving things, just in announcing things.

So many things have been announced in the Badawi era, that you would think – if you are naive enough – Malaysia is the bastion of activity.

The stagnancy is about repeating things, with further cash injections like the university campuses in Iskandar development zone, and all types of infrastructure projects. Things are built because they allow for tenders and photo ops. Most often no one is really sure why. So monstrosities rise while people cannot get fresh water and electricity in parts of this country.

How about them apples?

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