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Kuala Terengganu by-election and UMNO

Crystal mosque, Pulau Wan Man, Kuala Terengganu
Kuala Terengganu Crystal mosque. (source: The Star)

So, BN has lost yet another parliamentary seat in less than a year, plus the other two seats previously held by the Sabah based party, SAPP. BN and UMNO leaders should come to their senses and realize that after the 8 March political Tsunami, Permatang Pauh and now Kuala Terengganu, the widely perceived perception is that the people rejected them. After all, perception is more important than the real truth in politics. Personally, I do not think that Najib has the credibility or strong political will to carry out the necessary reforms for BN and UMNO. Even as Deputy PM, he has yet to prove that he is really up for the number one job. Politically, the best thing that I can foresee Najib can do is perhaps to be able to reunite the many factions within UMNO, especially those from the anti-Pak Lah group.

UMNO is seriously in a total mess. There is also this huge generation gap between the old leaders and the younger generation and it's unbelievable that they're doing nothing serious to capture their hearts and minds; the potential new voters in the next election. They should be focusing more on the young intellectuals and professionals, not those useless mat rempits. The tired old rhetorics of development agenda of BN, Perjuangan Melayu UMNO and so on so forth, are no longer relevant or something which doesn't really concern the new generation.

If BN and UMNO leaders really believed that they will bounce back in the next election like how they did in 2004, without any serious internal reforms, then I think when 2013 comes, BN will follow into footsteps of Golkar or Kuomintang. I feel that there are two major reasons why BN was successful to have recovered from their disastrous defeat in 1999. One, Pak Lah was relatively new as PM and still carry the Mr. Clean name tag, and for that reason, a vast majority of the rakyat gave him a resounding mandate. Secondly, Anwar was still in prison! And the opposition parties then, were not cohesively strong compared to the opposition alliance of PAS-PKR-DAP in March 2008. Like it or not, Anwar is the definitely the one-man factor that totally changed the course of the Malaysian political landscape in the 12th general election.

Back to the Kuala Terengganu by election, I have to disagree with Tun Dr Mahathir, in saying that the lost is due to lost of faith in Pak Lah. First, it was Najib who led the by-election campaign. Secondly, Najib is the future Prime Minister while Pak Lah is the outgoing. Hence, there are no strong reasons to say it's because of Pak Lah. Not discounting the fact of the huge number of hardcore PAS supporters in Kuala Terengganu, to a larger extent it was certainly due to the rejection of UMNO and BN as a whole by the majority Malays.

In the good old days of BN, they can always rely on the so-called 'silent majority' groups. But not anymore, the silent majority seems to be against the ruling party now and some of them are no longer 'silent'. To some, the Internet and blogs are becoming their new medium of expressing themselves politically. UMNO leaders must stop the habit of being on denial. They've got to seriously start face the facts and the new political reality post March 8 2008.

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