… to those who were sacked or suspended by Umno last Friday! The Umno supreme council sacked 44 party members and suspended four. They included big names such as former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin and Selangor Umno chairman Tan Sri Noh Omar who were sacked and Sembrong Member of Parliament Hishammuddin Hussein who was suspended.
There were other key people too among them such as the former Johor state assemblyman Datuk Maulizan Bujang, former Jempol MP Datuk Seri Mohd Salim Sharif, and former Umno information chief Shahril Sufian Hamdan.
According to Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan, they were sacked or suspended for ‘becoming independent candidates, candidates for parties other than Barisan Nasional (BN), and being involved in assisting opponent parties during the 15th general election (GE15).”
Their party may have punished them for whatever reason and it may be a bitter pill to swallow but consider the options because the choices these 48 make may well change the course of Malaysian politics in the very near future!
Those sacked will now have to decide whether to continue in politics or join a new party or form a party. They have one very positive factor in their favour; they no longer carry the corruption and arrogance baggage associated with their former party. And that may work to their advantage!
Those who have been suspended may choose to sit out their six-year suspension period or choose to leave the party. If they want to start all over again without the Umno baggage, the latter is a suitable exit strategy! Since only Hishammuddin is an MP in the purged group, the departure of the rest will not trigger the application of the Anti-hopping law.
Should Hishammudin decide to leave Umno, the Sembrong MP will trigger a by-election which may be a safe test to gauge his support and/or lack of support for Umno. If he is sure of his grassroots support he can either stand as an independent or join another party. He may lose but with the current mood against Umno and the Umno-Pakatan Harapan (PH) tie-up, it’s a risk that could pay off.
The point is that with the purge an opportunity has now opened up to form a new coalition without the Umno and Umno-PH baggage. So, these 48 politicians now in limbo need to think through the options clearly and shop around to form the best possible alternative to the current status quo.
Firstly, they need to size up the current political climate correctly. In doing so, the 48 need to keep in mind three key points.
1. Don’t let the desire to become prime minister be the overriding factor. If it does, the 48 will willingly make compromises to assume and stay in power and agree to the formation of backdoor governments, and lose their credibility in the process. The Perikatan Nasional (PN), Umno-led, and now the so-called PH-led unity governments of Muhyiddin Yassin, Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Anwar Ibrahim respectively are proof of it.
All three administrations were established with the help of the king without the mandate of the people, even if at that time, the unity government was the choiceless alternative to keep radically Islamic PAS as the single party which won the most number of seats out of government.
2. Determine to do everything within the leeway the federal constitution provides and according to the norms and conventions of parliamentary democracy. It is the MPs who must fight to ensure the sovereignty of the government and that can only happen if they alone form a government without being indebted to anyone outside of Parliament.
There will be attempts to interfere by external forces such as the constitutional monarch and rulers, businesses and/or a superpower like the United States. This will happen only if MPs let them. If MPs stand firm on the constitution and refuse to let any external force influence the outcome of a general election, and make no compromises, there will be no interference, and the government will be indebted to no one except the people.
MPs must find their conviction in defending the rights of the people — not that of power brokers. When they find that conviction they would be in a strong position to fight on behalf of the people and the sincerity and strength of their conviction will make it easier to sell their position to other parties and to negotiate around. The end result will be a sovereign government respected by the people and other nations.
If the 48 form or join a party or coalition and become MPs or assemblypersons and a few of them are nominated to become a menteri besar (chief minister) or prime minister without making any constitutional compromise, he/she achieves the position in the proper way and will be respected.
3. With the above two factors in mind, either form a new party or join an existing one. But there are some parties that must not be courted. PN, PH and PAS.
Join PN if the intention is to advance PAS’ Islamic state. PN’s lead partner, Bersatu, is bent on keeping PAS in tow to get the numbers and all other parties recognizing the multi-cultural characteristics of Malaysian society will eschew both parties.
PH must not be courted as long as it embraces the court-cluster-led Umno. Some of the 48 may want to join PH partner Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) as its philosophy may be closer to their beliefs. They should think before they leap.
PH won only 11% of the Malay vote and how much of that went to PKR is yet to be known. In other words, PKR probably won seats on a combination of urban non-Malay or mostly Chinese, and Malay votes.
Right now there are rumblings on the ground as to whether the voters made a mistake in voting for an Anwar-led PH as a result of the latter’s decision to include Umno MPs facing court charges for corruption, in the Cabinet, the constitutional basis for forming the unity government and accommodation of the rulers in government matters.
The 48 should stand for election either as independents or as candidates of a party in the state elections to test voter support. It would be better if they formed a new party or joined an existing party like Warisan or Pejuang to see if voter disgruntlement will be expressed for an alternative Malay-based party/coalition. The small parties can join together to form a new Malay-based coalition.
In GE15, Pejuang tested the voters through Gerakan Tanah Air but failed miserably. But the current sentiments on the ground are different. There is disquiet over the lack of firmness to deal with corruption while reforms take a back seat. The risk is that the 48 may lose but they would have tried and, in reality, they lose nothing.
Should the coalition of small parties make headway in the state elections, the momentum may begin for a repeat in a general election. It may pull parties not altogether happy to be associated with the court-cluster-led Umno and its accommodating partner PH, out of the unity government in a general election and a new, baggage-free axis of Malay-based power inclusive of parties representing other communities may emerge that is democratic, constitutional, representative of the people and confident because it has the mandate of the people.
To the 48, think of what you can do to change Malaysia’s political landscape, perhaps, forever. Think and act for the good of the country. In the cloud of gloom you may be in, there IS a silver lining.