Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tengku Razaleigh: Does It Look Real This Time?

by Hisham Bahrin

Tengku Razaleigh has just given the PM a new problem to worry about. The claim made by the Kelantan prince that he is willing to contest the UMNO presidency this August raises issues which, I believe most UMNO members do not need at the moment where political survivability of UMNO and by extension BN is being questioned from all directions.

Contrary to many, I beleive it is stupid to simply dismiss Tengku Razaleigh as irrelevant. It is almost unforgivable to even suggest that his plan lacks the minimum ground support he requires in order to contest the number one post. Lest we forget, one week is a long period in politics and here we are talking about August. The prince could be serious in contesting or he may well just be testing the water before mustering enough support but in whichever situation, one thing remains certain: that all is not well within UMNO. This sounds like a worn out cliche but never underestimate the power of strategy of a tiger, even though the tiger may have been resting all these while. At any rate, UMNO and BN have just learnt their lesson on Underestimation recently which I truy beleive will remain in their heads for a long time to come.

Hishamuddin said Razaleigh’s statement is ‘not conducive’ at the moment. Which makes the rest of us observers wonder when has it REALLY been ‘conducive’ to challenge the presidency in UMNO. Truth is there would never be a conducive moment for anyone to challenge the President. If all is well and UMNO is doing well and the people give a huge mandate to UMNO, why would anyone challenge the President? A president is only challenged when it is obvious that the leadership has failed in meeting the objectives of the party and the people that the party represents. Above all, in the case of UMNO, it is proven that the President and his brand of leadership is by and large, the main cause of the huge defeat of UMNO in the recent elections.

UMNO sadly is still holding on to the rope blindfolded. Contest for the top post should be allowed otherwise there will be no mechanism for change of leadership in the party. Denying contest is as good as having a lifetime President. So much for all these so-called ’soul searching’ and ‘paradigm-shift’ and ‘re-engineering’ that most UMNO people are talking about in facing the embarrasing defeat in the recent elections.

If this is UMNO and this is how UMNO handles itself then perhaps it isnt too difficult to predict the results of the next general election. UMNO would be dead (or severely mauled beyond recognition), killed by the stupidity of its leaders and lack of strategic decision making mechanism and skills. And this would not be a happy ending to most, myself included that is.

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