Umno is still trying to pin the blame for the bloody 13 May 1969 episode on the DAP (in other words, the Chinese). Notwithstanding widespread reports that machete-wielding, black-clad berserkers donning red headbands were brought in and out of Selangor in army and police field force lorries, there is no doubt that the authorities could have ended the violence within 48 hours - instead of allowing the carnage and tension to drag on for weeks - if they had had the political will to do so...
A few years years ago a young friend shared with me his unease about the next general election. "I have a gut feeling Pakatan Rakyat will win and Umno will stir up trouble," he said.
If he was hoping to get some reassurance from me that nothing so horrific could possibly happen, he would have been disappointed. My response was that the signs were clear - Umno knows it has reached the end of the line, but it refuses to get off the gravy train.
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No need to go over soggy, rank-smelling ground. Umno's sins are legion, and an inordinate proportion were obviously perpetrated under Mahathir Mohamad's 22-year-tenure. Umno should have died and been buried in February 1988 - but Mahathir was way too ruthless and nipped in the bud an attempt by two former prime ministers to establish an "Umno Malaysia" without him.
It was all about the money then - and even more so now. When so much money is involved, the worst traits tend to emerge. Umno in general - and Najib Razak in particular - are in dire straits. They can see the bold graffiti on the wall: the younger, street-savvier generation of Malays are no longer inclined to be whipped into a mindless frenzy by issues of race, religion and royalty. They are far more interested in freedom and social justice.
Umno's support base has been reduced to just a small band of rowdies and bullies - many of them moonlighting as policemen and goons-for-hire. Even its rural voter base of FELDA settlers can no longer be taken for granted - their children are beginning to wake up to the fact that they have been systematically robbed by smooth-talking Umno warlords who claim to have the Malays' interests at heart.
Is the army behind Umno? It's safe to say that the top brass are behind Najib. As defence minister for two terms, Najib had ample opportunity to line the pockets of high-ranking officers and make sure their retirement benefits were well taken care of. However, if the army is called out in the event of a national emergency, the rank-and-file troops may be disinclined to open fire on multiracial crowds for fear of injuring their own friends and relatives.
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That was its greatest achievement. After that pivotal date, Malaysians are uniting against corruption, social injustice, and demanding their civil liberties. While Umno and its fascist offshoots Perkasa, Isma, Pekida, (and a purulent plethora of ostensibly "Islamic" agencies like Jakim and Jais) remain mired in the ugly rhetoric of race, religion and royalty, everybody else has moved on.
So, even if Umno attempts to revive its May 13 scenario after it loses the next election, it can only send a few hundred rempit into the streets to create an atmosphere of tension. Nobody else will be provoked to join the fray. You can't start a full-scale "race riot" without participants. What can the rempit do except burn a few cars and overturn some trash cans?
Everyone who isn't still in a cultural trance or living beneath a coconut shell knows what sort of dirty tricks Umno is capable of and is unlikely to fall for any race-based sandiwara it attempts to stage, post GE14. Even if Umno's armed thugs manage to inflict injury on a few hapless bystanders - the rest of the population will take cover and refrain from retaliating. How long can a bunch of mindless thugs roam the empty streets before they tire of their aimless rampage?
|The SupremeTransformer, 1Nazjib|
Without people going about their everyday business, everything grinds to a halt. This would be akin to a massive hartal (general strike) which some of us have been trying to organize - only this time the hartal would be thrust upon us by an evil and massively unpopular regime that has just lost an election. Well, if such a situation arises, it would only prove beyond any shadow of doubt that Umno/BN has lost its legitimacy - and even if it seizes this opportunity to arrest and imprison all Opposition leaders, activists and bloggers, it will only be signing its own death warrant.
So let's put it this way: should we continue voting Umno/BN just because we fear the dire consequences if we don't? Or should we pit our fearlessness against Umno/BN's fear?
I'm willing to concede that we may have to embark on a national reconciliation exercise - the way it was done in South Africa during the tenure of F.W. de Klerk, when many police officers received formal pardons in exchange for their confessions and corrupt ministers were let off if they agreed to return a fair percentage of their ill-gotten gains to the national treasury.
CHEERS! HERE'S TO A BRAND NEW BEGINNING IN 2016!
|Cartoon by Edward Koren/New York Times|