Puteri Umno fondly reflects on the past

Puteri Umno chief Zahida Zarik Khan attributes her party’s dismal showing at the last general election to its adversaries launching personal attacks against Najib, the party’s “most effective weapon”. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, January 14, 2023.

Commentary by Mustafa K. Anuar

IN the aftermath of the last general election – in which Barisan Nasional, particularly Umno, was on the receiving end of an absolute drubbing – leaders of the grand old party rightly called for concerted efforts to win back the voters.

Hence, in the ongoing Umno general assembly, there were calls for the party to purge itself of traitors to achieve unity of purpose and gain the confidence of supporters, as well as ordinary Malaysians.

Other Umno delegates, such as Khairy Jamaluddin, are keen to strengthen the party through democratic practices.

That is why he, known to be vying for the party’s top post, objected to a decision made by 140 Umno division leaders to disallow the contest for the positions of president and deputy president.

While many delegates felt the need for the party to move forward, Puteri Umno chief Zahida Zarik Khan instead reportedly chose to harken back to the party’s harrowing past.

Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana once said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

Zahida would have done the right thing had she looked into the party’s recent past and consciously learned from the mistakes it made.

Instead, she romanticised the era when “Bossku”, referring to Najib Razak, was helming Umno and the country.

She reminded the Umno Puteri delegates that people missed someone like Najib only after he left the scene, just like the legendary Malay warrior Hang Tuah.

It is strange that “kleptocrat”, the term that has caused a stir internationally, did not ring a bell as far as she was concerned.

Najib, who is now serving a 12-year prison sentence, was depicted by Zahida as a victim of character assassination. His incarceration was meant to weaken Umno, she insisted.

It appears that she is oblivious to the fact that three Malaysian courts – the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Federal Court – had found the former prime minister guilty of diverting the funds from SRC International, part of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) public investment fund, into his personal bank accounts.

She attributed her party’s dismal showing at the last general election to its adversaries launching personal attacks against Najib, the party’s “most effective weapon”.

Denying such a blot on the party’s history will, like some other delegates, hinder Zahida’s ability to move on in order to rebuild and strengthen Umno.

You would think that the likes of Zahida would help make their party more relevant to fellow Malaysians by seeking ideas and solutions, when presented with the various challenges of contemporary Malaysia and the needs of the country’s youth.

There are issues of gender discrimination in certain professions, rampant corruption, education, unemployment, global recession, poverty, climate change, violation of human rights etc that Puteri Umno may want to examine critically.

You would hope that Puteri Umno is driven by an idealism that would ordinarily guide individuals to think of the best for people and society.

Speaking of youth reminds us of what an Umno Wanita delegate said about raising the voting age to 23, as opposed to the current 18 and the product of the Undi18 initiative that first bore fruit in the last general election.

Zahida should be concerned about this delegate’s logic. She did not think highly of young adults because she felt that they lacked maturity and understanding about elections, government and the democratic system.

The delegate’s assessment of the young does not sound fair, in what was too sweeping a statement.

That said, the antics and thinking of certain politicians, who have passed the 23-age mark, makes you wonder whether immaturity may not necessarily be the preserve of the young. – January 14, 2023.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.