Sunday, November 2, 2014

Umno’s future is in the centre


Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat are both suffering from the same ailment. The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing and the top is not moving in tandem with the bottom. Malays call this ekor dan kepala tak sama.

The recent Menteri Besar crisis in Selangor and the push for Hudud laws in Kelantan are just two of many examples. The top is pushing in one direction while the bottom is pushing in the opposite direction. Then one partner in Pakatan Rakyat wants this while the other partner wants that.

Lim Guan Eng’s statement today where he warned the Pakatan Rakyat allies to be consistent reinforces this point.

Barisan Nasional and Umno are no less chaotic. Umno wants to move more to the right whereas the other partners in Barisan Nasional want to move more to the centre.

Within Umno itself the Prime Minister wants to move more to the centre while others prefer to move more to the right. Hence movements such as PERKASA and ISMA are taking centre-stage and have an alarmingly high following.

Malaysian politics has been changing from one era to another. The current trend worldwide is for more centralist politics. And neither of the two coalitions is able to deliver this.

For Umno to stay relevant, and hence stay in power, would be for the party to move more to the centre. No doubt the nationalists, Islamists, and so on, would not be happy with this. Some Malay nationalists feel that Umno’s future lies in the party being more Malay-centric. PAS thinks it should be more Islam-centric to be able to take Malay support away from Umno.

The extreme right or extreme left no longer make up the majority in Malaysian society. As time goes on we are going to see the centrists outnumbering the extremists. And herein lies Umno’s future.

Umno ignores this fact at its own peril. The opposition cannot make Umno irrelevant. Only Umno can make itself irrelevant. And this should be what guides the Prime Minister and not the voice of those who want to see Malaysia return to the pre-1969 era.

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