People should not be afraid of the government. Governments should be afraid of the people.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Sodomy 2 & the UMNO mentality
By Kenny Gan, Guest Writer
While we watch astounded at Umno’s audacious attempt to ram a crumbling sodomy case through court with questionable legal maneuvers that no fair court would tolerate, we are left wondering at the mentality behind Umno.
Is Umno aware that the world is watching and a conviction that turns Anwar Ibrahim into a victim of political persecution would be more damaging to BN than a free Anwar or a tottering MCA and a near-defunct MIC combined?
What could possibly drive Umno to undertake this risky misadventure when retribution from a public backlash is staring at them in the face?
No government which has to face elections will do what Umno does. Sodomy II is more in tune with a military dictatorship like Myanmar or a banana republic like Zimbabwe rather than a modern democracy like Malaysia (or pseudo-democracy if you want to nitpick).
To understand why this circus trial is going on we must delve deep into Umno's mentality. The first characteristic of Umno's mentality is that it is infantile. To a young child the present eclipse the future in importance. It is pointless to bribe a little child to give up something in his hands for something better in future.
We can see Umno's infantile mentality clearly in the Perak power grab. It will not give up the immediate prize of Perak even if threatened with the loss of Federal power in the next election. Hence the incarceration of Anwar is an immediate benefit which outweighs any thoughts of future repercussion.
The next characteristic of Umno may be aptly termed "the monkey mentality." Kampung boys will know how to catch a monkey by drilling a hole in a coconut just large enough for its hands to go through. Some food is place inside preferably under the watchful eyes of the simians and the coconut left alone. The curious monkey reaches into the hole to grab the food but is unable to withdraw its hand while grabbing the food. The monkey can then be approached and captured as it will not let go of the food no matter what threats it faces.
Again in the Perak power grab we can observe this monkey mentality in Umno. Against the on slaughter of negative public opinion Umno will not let go of Perak by calling for new state elections. Similarly now that its paws have grasped hold of Anwar it will not let go no matter what dire consequences looms ahead.
Yet another characteristic which we are all familiar with is arrogance. This is the arrogance which can only come from ruling unbroken for more than 50 years, winning election after election and steamrolling the opposition. Umno thinks it can ride the tide of negative public opinion generated from the backlash of jailing Anwar. After all it has never lost a general election with its awesome money, machinery and media.
This arrogance also spills over into disdain for the intelligence of the people. The public are taken as gullible fools who will believe whatever they are told and who will not delve into details. They will be told to "respect the decision of the court" and "Anwar was given a fair trial and had many lawyers defending him" or Mahathir's own favorite, "the judge wrote a judgement running into hundreds of pages." What else do the people want?
Yet another characteristic is just sheer incompetence. With Umno just like the country it governs, meritocracy has taken a backseat. The ones that rise to top are hardly the smart and intelligent ones or the popular ones in touch with the grass roots who can gauge the sentiment of the people. They are the political street fighters, voter buyers, cable pullers and the children of those in power. Umno is not only incompetent to pull off a complex conspiracy, it is also incompetent to do a cost-benefit analysis and is out of touch with the grass roots.
The tight conformity within Umno where no disagreement or dissent is tolerated with respect to the top leadership helps to keep an eerie silence from middle and low ranking leaders who can see the ill-advised foolishness of Sodomy II but are unable to speak out or sound a warning. The component parties are just too castrated to act.
Umno also exhibits an ossified mind which is unable to update its thinking to the present. The days when the government-controlled the flow of information via the mass media and use it to mould public opinion is over with the rise of the alternative media.
Education is more widespread now and more people are concerned about social justice than ever before but to Umno they are still dealing with kampung folks concerned primarily with bread and butter issues. The use of old style campaigning strategies in by-elections is a product of Umno's ossified mind.
Umno may be deluded into thinking that it has been done before so it can be done again. What they did not take into account is the vastly changed socio-political circumstances between 1998 and now. The opposition is much stronger, online penetration is at least 16 times more and voters are more demanding of good governance.
Even then in the general election of 1999, Mahathir's cruel treatment of Anwar caused Umno's Malay vote share to collapse to 49% and it was the minorities which saved him. The minorities will not be so favourable to BN now.
Will Umno come to its senses and pull back from the brink? Or will it go all the way and jail Anwar? We have to wait and see but don’t hold your breath for Anwar’s acquittal.