I read through Pak Lah’s 23 pages of translated speech to the UMNO Conference - courtesy of The Star “ but not because I am a convert to the UMNO cause.
I read through it to see where this organisation will go in determining the way you and I live. This assembly with its 2,500 delegates, and the massive power they wield with all the nation’s resources.
The you and I, non UMNOputras, but who love this country more so than ever. We who aspire to live without fear, to live in a compassionate and just society, who will fight for justice, who will shelter women, children and men from violence and poverty, for intolerance of corruption and the promotion of critical thinking.
But then again, it’s only in Malaysia that a politician like Pak Lah can claim unchallenged in front of a group of otherwise bright journalists that he wants to get rid of money politics and at the same time can offer RM2 for each new UMNO member recruited!
These are my summaries of his core messages:
The first pillar: It is always helpful to hide behind religious rhetoric when it is obvious nothing else will save UMNO and its ineffectual arrogance.
The second pillar: Think and say whatever you want to say as long as I agree with you. We are not afraid to use the might of our power to make you think and say as we do.
The third pillar: Radical steps in education means providing essentials such as electricity and computers to rural schools. The change of curriculum means adding two subjects like biotechnology and ICT.
For those of you educators who think that the way to go is via changing our teacher-centred curriculum to a child-centred curriculum that will encourage thinking, sorry! Pak Lah and his advisers have not thought of that. Changing the culture of learning and teaching may teach the Malays to think for themselves, and not repeat what someone else has told them. This doesn’t suit UMNO. UMNO knows what’s best for you.
How about increasing teachers pay to attract the best minds into the teaching professions? Sorry, that wasn’t in his speech either. Presumably the culture will persist, that teaching is all about the transmission of facts from teacher to the class, and these facts are to be learnt by heart, and critical thinking is not allowed.
The fourth pillar: Economically, I know all the problems but I do not know how to fix it. We will maintain control of strategic assets because of national interest ( read UMNO interest).
The fifth pillar: Race will continue to be the determining factor in Malaysian life. Never mind the gaps between the rich and poor regardless of their race. Don’t even dream of non-race-based social justice programs.
The sixth pillar: In short, join UMNO, there are RM20 billion worth of projects coming up.
The seventh pillar: Public sector is not about integrity, transparency and delivery of service to all without fear or favour. It is about assisting the private sector in driving economic growth. Sounds like the current level of corruption is not high enough.
The eighth pillar: There is absolutely no will to fight corruption. Corruption is too hard, too frustrating, you must help me. (There is no mention about beefing up ACA and getting the best non-corruptible officers.)
The ninth pillar: All crimes are committed by foreign bogeys. It is a true and tested fear factor that works all the time. Our shores are paved in gold so they come in droves that incapacitate our ability to police them. The increased rate of crime has nothing to do with us or our corrupt culture and declining values and the wider gap between the rich and the poor. The thin line of the police’s role between violators and protectors shall not be mentioned or discussed - let alone allowing some lone voice in the wilderness asking for a royal commission into police.
The 10th pillar: Women’s issues are as important as UMNO flag naming issues. So the mention of injustices that women faced for 50 years under a Merdeka country was done in the same breath as a mention of a name for the UMNO flag. Because it is so important to treat women right!
The 11th pillar: We Muslims are so weak, we are not prepared to do anything of substance. Anyway we kill each other.
The 12th pillar: Oops_ A belated response to isu murtad.
I can almost hear the thunderous applause of the 2,500 delegates. The echo that rings hollow.
On that note, I still live in hope that there are you and I out there who still own our minds, our aspirations, and whose eyes are not clouded and can see that all these plundering pillars are done at our expense. It is up to us to save ourselves.