May 20 — If Umno wants to turn 2009 around to its favour, what should it do? Meaning, where will the empire strike back?
So I’ll put on my Umno thinking cap on.
The three prong basis of power
1) Keeping the Malay chauvinists support;
2) Divide the various parties (PKR, PAS, Makkal Sakthi movement, PSM) opposing them and;
3) Sustain the perception in fence-sitters that BN is the only government possible for Malaysia.
Of the three only their grip of the first — making love to right wingers (4B, Pekida, Gapena etc, Utusan Malaysia) — remains strong.
The efforts to draw back PAS to the BN fold have met enough resistance in the party, and their party election result will affect much of Umno’s approach for the remainder of the year.
The pain is in Perak DAP and PAS keeping a solid line. It was hoped that neighbouring Kedah’s and Penang’s inability to marry the two parties into state government, could be the sore to work on and spill-over to the silver state.
Despite all manoeuvres they have kept a strong offside line, if you don’t mind the football analogy.
It is the final prong that has taken a real horrible beating. The fence-sitters. It was the reluctance of many fence-sitters to switch that let BN not end up being annihilated in the peninsula in GE 2008. Primarily fence-sitters in the rural/semi-urban seats. Contrary to popular belief, people in the villages are not in love with Umno.
You can gather any focus group from those localities and find them not in amour with PWTC. They will however hold a fair bit of uncertainty with newer players and defend Umno’s past. There still remains a distortion to associate national development with Umno.
However the last three years has been a series of guffaws after guffaws by the Umno troupes, who are missing miserably leadership of consequence.
Bersih rally, Hindraf arrests, the naked wealth of Umno personalities & friends, PKFZ, a certain son-in-law, a long serving minister (now out) with a loud mouth, the Internet, Them BLOGS etc
This is what Mahathir has been moaning about, and that is why he still moans despite Najib Razak rising to the top. Mahathir is fighting time, not people, and things will continue to frustrate him.
That is the score.
Now the strike
No army, no matter how weak is incapable of striking a blow, a master blow.
The Germans had the Battle of Bulge, and the Confederates had Battle of Bull Run. They lost in the long run, but in the long descent from power, they will make attack.
Umno will strike.
Despite having the courts, Parliament, police and a guy looking like a rookie eager eyed cadet as home minister, they have lacked a blitzkrieg — everything is fractured, isolated and knee-jerk.
The Makkal Sakhti party plans are good, but there are no activists Indians in the ranks of the Umno thinkers — unless you consider the Indians in Umno, but they’d rather choke and die before admitting they are Indian.
Still they are not Indian activists. They think in a different way, and they are very tribal. A trace from this party to Umno will be quickly spotted, and Umno won’t be able to help them mimic the behaviour of a bona fide movement.
Nope. All that is the side show.
If they can’t divide their opponents as much — more so when the Erdogans win inside PAS — then they have to go for fear.
The fear of Umno.
This will mobilise the Malay right, and draw great levels of trepidation from the fence-sitters, especially the urban/semi-urban crowd.
However they will need an event, an action, something to rally everyone around it.
Backing the royal houses has worked before, but it is looking less workable now.
In the dire days of her early years Margaret Thatcher made a complete meal over what is a completely footnote island near Argentina, turned everyone’s attention around and kept her in power for another 8 years.
Asean puts that as a null possibility.
They will need a Malay issue, a strong one. And one that the Pakatan parties — some dead set against and others completely uncomfortable about it — loathe.
The Kugan death, was racial profiling most foul, but did not take a race vs race turn.
The Penang government has bend over backwards to show that there are no active policies to disenfranchise Malays in the state, and even Penang Umno struggles to stir anything up.
I can think of only one.
The how and when I am not sure. The what — The collapse of the PKR leadership.
Anwar Ibrahim, Azmin Ali, Khalid Ibrahim, Syed Husin Ali and a very small group of leaders are the spine of Malay leadership in the party, and keep the outright ability of the party to claim their ability to keep Malay interest firmly in the front.
There are 32 PKR MPS, but about half only being Malay. A combination of purchasing, pursuing and compromising them out of PKR, will effectively reduce the degrees of separation they have with DAP.
That is what I can see as the backdoor.
Or even the frontdoor.
Let us see.