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2:47pm 15/01/2023
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Zahid’s brilliant moves may save Umno and…Malaysia
By:Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi

At the end of the Umno General Assembly, I smiled and heaved a huge sigh of relief…not just for Umno, but more for Malaysia.

In the midst of negative comments from the media, civil society personalities and political analyst academics, I wish to say that I am in total disagreement with them all.

These critics of Zahid and Umno clearly do not understand what it is to be a Malay, a Muslim and the position of Islam in Malaysia’s politics.

All these academics and naysayers could say was to criticize from their lofty armchairs with tables of numbers constructing a theoretical world of Malaysia as if it were a video or computer game. The reality on the ground is far different from what these analysts can actually see.

Zahid had masterminded five master stroke moves that would not only strengthen Umno, BN and the Unity Government, but may actually be the most important help to bring back Malaysia to a centrist position against PAS and PPBM extremist craziness. I will explain.

Firstly, the decision not to invite their Unity Government partners was the right one. Umno must be seen to be standing alone without anyone’s help. Umno must be seen as helping and even forging the Unity government, not PH.

The integrity of Umno and Zahid Hamidi was reassured as he stands alone on the podium over his dominion of all the Malays in Umno. No Anwar, no DAP and no PH, just Umno.

Secondly, Zahid had masterfully orchestrated the narrative of the loss of Umno, not from his court cases but from the sabotage of several individuals before, during and after the election.

These saboteurs were rightly called as “pengkhianat bangsa dan agama.” Although these pengkhianat argued that they had recanted, that is the lamest excuse anyone can give.

When blood is drawn from a wound there is no letting it back in. When the dawn deal was brokered by these pengkhianat, they had done so on their own individual willingness without the consent of the Umno Supreme Council that they themselves had pledged to follow to the letter.

There is no two ways of interpreting this act; sabotage, sabotage and traitorous. The narrative of these pengkhianat causing the defeat of Umno was well received.

Thirdly, the decision by Zahid and the Supreme Council to allow the vote for the no contest of the two top posts was the master stroke.

Instead of making a unilateral decision, the thing was given back to the delegates to decide.

Khairy’s accusation of manipulation was feeble and actually helpful to allow an overwhelming no-contest vote for the party election concerning the two top posts.

Many civil society personalities criticize that this has made Umno undemocratic.

Well, let me ask these critics a simple question. What is so democratic about allowing outside parties to bribe and buy votes with money gotten from the corruption of the people’s money? Is it so democratic that votes are bought and the future of a party determined not from the inside but wholly from the outside?

Fourthly, Zahid had initiated the formation of the Ulama Council in Umno to combat the aggressive religious campaign that was used in GE15. The Ulama Council will also manage the narrative of Islam to be more centrist and not extremist for the benefit not only the Malays, Umno and the Unity Government, but it will also put Malaysia back to be a moderate Islamic nation.

I have written many articles calling on ABIM, IKRAM, Amanah, PH, academics from public universities, muftis and religious bodies to answer the religious narratives of PAS and PPBM but none came.

These people would only say things like “we must not raise racial and religious issues that would destroy the harmony of the people of all faiths.”

This is a useless statement. Muslims can clearly see how Hadi and PAS use the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet to paint many false narratives and pictures of Islam under threat, but these accusations were unanswered by other experts with Qur’an and the Sunnah.

No political parties have set up an Ulama Council. PKR thinks it is useless, DAP thinks it is irrelevant while Amanah feels their members are well versed in Islam and there is no need of a clergy council.

The ordinary Muslim Malays, whether educated like a professor or uneducated, will always seek guidance from the religious clerics because they do not like reading and thinking critically. Most Muslims just want to follow a credible ustaz.

I sincerely hope that Umno can recruit the best minded ustazs to propose a counter-Islamic narrative to that of PAS and this would be good news not only to Umno and the Unity Government, but most importantly to all of us in Malaysia.

Fifthly, Zahid had called for the setting up of a Council of Academics to help forge a new path and narrative of social, political and economic development for the new Malaysia via the new Umno.

With the setting up of this council, Umno may be poised and positioned for change come GE16. If all goes well, Umno may not even regain its former strength and stand toe to toe with PH but I can also rival it into a top position and we may yet see Zahid as the Prime Minister of Malaysia and head of a rejuvenated and reinvented Umno.

Of course, many are saying that what I have painted is pure fantasy, but I do believe that circumstances have placed Umno in a position of do-or-die situation. If Umno does not reinvent itself, Umno will die.

As Malaysians, we must allow Umno to lick its wounds, go through a healing process, revitalize and finally reinvent itself.

It is funny that fate has put Umno in the driver seat of our new and common destiny.

This will be Umno’s second chance and may we all be the better for it.

(Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor of Architecture at a local university and his writing reflects his own personal opinion entirely.)

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Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi
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