Pemuda Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said the party has and is doing everything possible for the Malays and the country but it is up to the voters to decide on the outcome of the next general election.
(History: when Hang Tuah threw his Taming Sari into the Duyong River about 5 centuries ago, he said: "Untung sabut timbul; untung batu tenggelam.")
Umno will still have strong support from its members, no doubt about it. Being 'a comfortable party to be with', most Malays will not be in vertigo to place their bet, neither will they become irresolute toward Barisan Nasional.
The Umno general assembly concluded yesterday with a bang - president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said it has met all the objectives set before it convened. All delegates were invigorated by every single speech delivered, although some were circumlocutions. Allusions were applied when it come to battering the Opposition, and as usual the floor jumped in excitement.
But from the eyes of an Umno layman, people like me, the GA is a routine. All political parties worldwide have their own general assembly. In late 1983, I attended the Baath Party congress at the el-Rashid Hotel, Baghdad. Saddam Hussein chaired it. In 1996, I was at the Khartoum Assembly Hall when President Omar el-Bashir opened it.
Knowing what kind of a person Saddam is, speakers who took to the floor did not laud or compliment him too much. They did not even lash out at the Opposition but centered their discussion and deliberation on how to improve the party's image in the eyes of the Iraqis. And so were the Sudanese delegates.
Sudanese ulama Hassan al-Turabi whom I met during a trip to Madani (I stayed at his house for a week... invited to Sudan as a member of an international watchdog agency to observe the first free presidential election in the country) used to tell me:
"We elected the leaders. As leaders, they need no eulogy because they should know their responsibility. The people who made them leaders deserve it more, especially when they made the right choice."
But we are not Iraq or Sudan. They don't have the Chinese or Indians like us although they have dozens of political parties. In Malaysia, Umno must not only becomes a 'darling' to the eyes of the Malays but also to the Chinese, Indians, Sikhs and others.
I found it sickening when 6 delegates whom I had tea with at a coffee house yesterday, said Umno will remain the pillar of BN even if the MCA, Gerakan or MIC fail to win enough seats in the next general election. I don't know what math or theory that support such a divination. Deep inside, I said there goes the spirit of Perikatan!
At few by-elections where Umno contested, there were words and finger-pointing that MCA didn't do much to help the campaigns. In fact, it came from a few members of the Umno Supreme Council who came down at a time when MCA party workers and leaders were meeting with the Chinese voters. As usual, members who happen to be around them will collaborate that notion!
Umno should sit down more often with MCA, MIC, Gerakan and other BN components, not only at the leaders level but at the grass root. Denying each other's importance and contribution will only lead to Umno and MCA becoming another 'Malay' and 'Chinese' party - in other words, let MCA do all the jobs to win the Chinese while Umno for the Malays.
Najib's winding-up speech was among the best I've listened to - simple yet stimulating. The delegates were very receptive to calls to work harder and stay united in preparing for the next national poll, and that division heads should not have the impression that his deputy was trying to topple him.
But what about the ordinary members? Are we really listening to them? Are we actually paying attention to their complaints about the incompetency of a division's leadership, corruption, factionalism and so on? Are we dead sure that the candidates we chose to become their Members of Parliament or State Assemblymen are the ones they prefer and support?
If politics is all about qualification and scrolls, a political party should well become an organisation that employs them. A doctor, lawyer or engineer cannot make a good politician or become a 'wakil rakyat' if he gets no grass root support. Similarly, a 'parachute' candidate will only undermine the voters of that constituency. As the saying goes, 'kecil jangan disangka anak, besar jangan disangka bapak!'
Nevertheless, the general assembly was indeed another wake up call to the Malays and Malaysians as a whole. Umno must be steered to stay relevant in bringing Malaysians together under BN administration.
However, how many wake up calls must we make until the Malays in Umno can really open up their mind about the significant of other BN component parties to their political survival? How many times more that they need to wake up every morning without askance and prejudice toward the non-Malays or non-Bumiputeras?
There were still delegates who made incongruous and cynical speech at the general assembly about the Chinese. It's time to stop all that. And it's time for Umno to win the heart of the Chinese while MCA wins more Malay support. I am not saying we should make do without the 'social contract' but the future of the Malays lies more in their own hands now.
And please note that the more we hit out at the Opposition, the more seats they grabbed, Sarawak state election being a good example.
We should stay more focused at the most-bottom level, the grass root members. They are the ones who will decide and chart the future of the country. Whether they are Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazan or others, Umno should be much more closer to them than to the elected leaders.
I beg to differ from other pro-BN and pro-Umno bloggers who lauded and gave full marks to everything that took place at the Umno GA. I am worried if we make incorrigible mistakes. Some Umno leaders and members will not support my jottings and view, and I am not sure whether or not I got the message across.
But I am glad to have written it here. At least I can tell my 4-year old daughter, Sofea (picture) who sings 'Lagu Umno' aloud almost every day and is able to distinguish Najib, Dr Mahathir, Muhyiddin, Hisham, Shahrizat, Mukhriz, KJ and others on TV - the reason for not taking her to the PWTC during Umno GA (I broke my promise to her, and she cried each time I left home for the venue) was to avoid her getting tired!