Sadly, Umno is missing from this debate about the fundamentals of our society. Having ruled unchallenged for so long they now lack the intellectual capability, the courage and the energy to lead.
Dr Mahathir understands this and like Shakespeare’s aging tragic hero, King Lear, he bemoans the faithlessness of his “wayward” children cum followers from Umno.
He knows how weak and indecisive they are and he knows the extent to which they fear change and the loss of their privileges. Indeed, his surprise resignation from the party is not unlike Lear’s angry exit from the safe confines of the palace onto the open heath in the midst of a tumultuous thunderstorm.
The question then is twofold: whose vision is best suited for the nation and, who can win over those blockheads in Umno?
Last month, as I watched Dr Mahathir on BBC’s Hardtalk, I couldn’t help thinking that he isn’t the man he used to be. Certainly he looked physically weaker, but more seriously his incessant attacks on Abdullah have taken a toll on his own credibility and standing – indeed the relentlessness of his fury had diminished him as a leader. One couldn’t help but draw parallels to his vilified Zimbabwean compatriot, Robert Mugabe.
Moreover it’s by no means clear if his obsession with the Malay agenda to the exclusion of all else (basically all “other” Malaysians including non-Muslim bumiputras) is wise strategy. Can Umno afford to alienate the non-Malays now? March 8 demonstrated that it does so to its own perdition.
Dr Mahathir cannot comprehend that the articulation of Malay rights has been debased by those who were tasked to lead the community.
With every ill-conceived mansion built by an Umno division chief, the party’s credibility sank further. Who in the right mind believes the pro-Malay rhetoric of Umno’s leadership now?
Frankly, a return to the primordial world of Malay dominance is doomed to failure. Furthermore, recent electoral trends seem to suggest that many (if not the majority of) young Malays are equally sceptical of Umno’s self-aggrandising rhetoric.