2013-05-12

Um...


Ok, I'm not sure if everyone got that.

Anyway, a number of recently enthusiastic "champions of democracy," whom I've had the pleasure of meeting, don't seem to be aware of the depth to which the ruling coalition has done, and continues to do, a damn good job of whatever it is that political parties are supposed to do.

Exhibit 1:

Triumph of the Machine


This is an article which skims the surface of what I tend to think of as UMNO's "house church" or "splinter cell" organisational structure. If you're trying to engage rural audiences in Malaysia, off the top of my head, you can't do much better than this. This is the gold standard. Or rather, the full-blown machine is, and that is not detailed in this article. To know what that is, you need to talk to your friendly neighbourhood politicos. Don't know any? Hmm.

To be honest, it really pisses me off when I hear people larking around in their city chit-chat, complaining about city councils rooting up their pretty little flags, and talking about change, when really this is what they should be thinking...



Sorry. But it's true. You [expletive]s.

Exhibit 2:

just a routine announcement on Facebook


I think this needs to be translated into English for the majority of people who actually need to read this. I'm going to take a stab at that, but will incorporate edits as feedback comes in. Bear with me - my grasp of Malay is horrible. The text on the left is lifted verbatim from the author's Facebook page, at about 0430 hours on Sunday, 12 May, 2013. On the right is the (ongoing) translation.
Muhyiddin Yassin · 17,677 like this
5 hours ago ·

PERUTUSAN
TAN SRI DATO’ HJ MUHYIDDIN HJ MOHD YASSIN
TIMBALAN PRESIDEN UMNO
SEMPENA ULANG TAHUN UMNO KE-67

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim.
Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

A MESSAGE
TAN SRI DATO’ HJ MUHYIDDIN HJ MOHD YASSIN
VICE PRESIDENT OF UMNO
ON UMNO'S 67th ANNIVERSARY

In the name of God, the most merciful, and most loving.
May the peace, mercy, and blessings of God be with you.
Bersyukur kita ke hadrat Allah s.w.t. kerana pada hari ini UMNO menyambut ulangtahun yang ke-67. Ulangtahun yang disambut pada kali ini amat istimewa kerana Barisan Nasional baru sahaja mencapai kemenangan dalam Pilihanraya Umum ke-13. Kita bersyukur kerana rakyat sekali lagi memberikan mandat kepada Barisan Nasional untuk menerajui negara bagi tempoh 5 tahun akan datang.We are thankful to God, for on this day UMNO celebrates its 67th anniversary. The anniversary that we celebrate this time is very special because Barisan Nasional has just achieved victory in the 13th General Election. We are thankful because the people have once more given Barisan Nasional the mandate to lead the nation for 5 more years.


Saya mengambil kesempatan ini untuk mengucapkan jutaan terima kasih dan tahniah kepada seluruh jentera dan penyokong parti yang telah bekerja keras untuk memastikan kemenangan UMNO dan Barisan Nasional. Hasil komitmen anda semua, kedudukan UMNO semakin bertambah kukuh dengan kejayaan kita meningkatkan jumlah kerusi parlimen yang dimenangi daripada 79 kerusi dalam PRU-12 kepada 88 kerusi. Di peringkat DUN, kerusi yang dimenangi oleh UMNO juga telah meningkat daripada 238 kerusi kepada 241 kerusi. Selain itu, kita juga telah berjaya merampas semula negeri Kedah daripada pembangkang di samping mempertahankan semua negeri yang dimenangi dalam PRU-12.
I take this opportunity to wish a million thank-yous and congratulations to the entire machine and supporters of the party who have worked hard to ensure the victory of UMNO and Barisan Nasional. As a result of all your commitment, UMNO's position is firmer in our success at increasing the total parliamentary seats that were won from 79 seats in the GE-12 to 88 seats. At the level of state assemblies, the seats won by UMNO rose from 238 seats to 241 seats. Aside, we also succeeded in retaking the state of Kedah from the opposition while defending all states that were won in the GE-12.

Kemenangan ini memberi peluang kepada UMNO untuk terus berbakti kepada negara di samping berusaha meningkatkan kepercayaan rakyat. Kita sedar bahawa setelah 56 tahun menerajui negara, UMNO dan BN berhadapan dengan pelbagai cabaran yang muncul bersama peredaran zaman.

Hari ini, hasil usaha yang dilaksanakan oleh UMNO dan BN untuk memajukan bangsa, telah lahir ramai golongan kelas menengah Melayu yang berpendidikan tinggi, berkerjaya dan tinggal di kota-kota besar. Golongan ini berhadapan dengan realiti baru kehidupan sebagai masyarakat bandar yang jauh berbeza dengan zaman awal penubuhan UMNO yang lebih tertumpu kepada masyarakat desa dan luar bandar. Golongan kelas menengah Melayu perlu disantuni oleh UMNO kerana mereka merupakan pasak kekuatan UMNO yang baru.
This victory gives UMNO the chance to continue serving the nation while making every effort to increase the faith of its people. We are aware that after 56 years of leading the nation, UMNO and BN are faced with various challenges that accompany changing times.

Today, UMNO and BN's effort to develop our race, has birthed many middle class Malays, who are highly educated, endowed with careers, and living in large cities. This group is faced with new realities of life in urban society that differ greatly from early times of UMNO's formation that were more focused on village and rural society. The Malay middle class must be addressed by UMNO because they are UMNO's new linchpin and strength.

Selain itu, generasi muda juga merupakan kelompok penting yang perlu didampingi secara lebih dekat oleh UMNO. Citra dan pemikiran mereka berbeza dengan generasi awal UMNO yang telah membina asas serta mencorak halatuju perjuangan UMNO selama ini. Dengan mendampingi golongan muda serta mengajak mereka untuk bersama-sama berjuang di dalam UMNO, parti kita akan mendapat suntikan semangat dan idea-idea baru untuk terus memperkukuhkan perjuangan UMNO seiring dengan peredaran zaman.

Untuk itu, proses peremajaan UMNO perlu berlaku dengan lebih pantas. UMNO perlu membuka ruang yang lebih luas kepada generasi muda, kumpulan profesional dan golongan kelas menengah Melayu untuk bergiat secara lebih aktif di dalam parti. Bukan sahaja kemasukan mereka ke dalam UMNO mesti kita alu-alukan, malah mereka perlu dibimbing untuk mengambil peranan yang lebih besar di dalam parti dan seterusnya menerajui parti pada masa hadapan.
Aside from that, the younger generation is also an important cluster that must be accompanied most closely by UMNO. Their identity and thoughts differ from UMNO's early generation that built foundations and set the direction of UMNO's struggle so far. By approaching the youth and inviting them to persevere together in UMNO, our party receives an injection of enthusiasm and new ideas to further strengthen UMNO's efforts in these new times.

In order to achieve that, the "en-youth-ment," of UMNO must happen more quickly. UMNO must open broader spaces for the young generation, professional groups, and middle class Malays to participate actively in the party. Beyond welcoming their entrance to UMNO, they must also guided to take a larger role in the party and subsequently lead the party in the future.

Justeru, UMNO perlu melalui satu proses transformasi politik yang lebih komprehensif dan radikal untuk menjadi sebuah parti politik Melayu Islam dan Malaysia yang lebih dinamis, inklusif dan berwawasan agar UMNO lebih universal dari segi perjuangan namun tidak lupa objketif asal ia dilahirkan.

Parti-parti yang menjadi komponen dalam BN juga perlu melaksanakan proses perubahan yang lebih besar untuk mereka diterima oleh semua kaum di negara ini. Mereka perlu lebih peka untuk membina parti yang lebih berpadu serta membina kerjasama strategik dengan UMNO agar BN disokong dengan lebih kukuh oleh rakyat Malaysia .
Therefore, UMNO must undergo a comprehensive and radical transformation to become a political party for Muslim Malays and Malaysia that is more dynamic, inclusive, and visionary, so that UMNO becomes more universal in its efforts without forgetting the foundational objectives of its birth.

The component parties of BN also must implement a greater change process in order to be accepted by all this nation's communities. They must be more sensitive in order to build more united parties and to build strategic cooperation with UMNO so that BN is supported even more firmly by the Malaysian people.

UMNO mempunyai tempoh selama 5 tahun sebelum sekali lagi menghadapi pilihanraya bagi memperoleh mandat rakyat untuk terus menerajui negara. Pilihanraya Umum ke-14 akan menjadi titik penentuan penting kelangsungan UMNO sebagai parti keramat orang Melayu. Dalam tempoh yang singkat ini setiap peringkat kepimpinan UMNO daripada pusat, negeri hinggalah bahagian dan cawangan perlu bermuhasabah, melakukan pembetulan dan bertindak untuk memastikan UMNO dapat terus mengungguli perjuangan memartabatkan agama, bangsa dan negara yang tercinta.

Sempena ulangtahun UMNO yang ke-67 ini marilah kita menumpahkan taat setia yang tidak berbelah bahagi kepada parti. Marilah kita memberikan sokongan padu kepada Presiden kita YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak untuk terus menerajui parti dan negara.
UMNO has a period of 5 years before once more facing elections to obtain the people's mandate of national leadership. The 14th General Election will become an important tipping point in the implementation of UMNO as the sacred party of the Malay people. In this short time every level of leadership within UMNO, from core, to state, to division, to branch, must reflect upon itself, correct itself, and act to ensure that UMNO continues to excel in its struggle to uphold religion, race and our beloved nation.

On this 67th anniversary of UMNO let us focus on giving our undivided loyalty to the party. Let us give united support to our President, The Very Honourable Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak to continue leading the party and country.

Akhirnya, marilah kita berdoa ke hadrat Allah s.w.t. semoga perjuangan suci UMNO terus diberkati Allah. Kepada Allah kita berserah dan kepadaNya jua kita memohon pertolongan.

Salam perjuangan,

TAN SRI DATO’ HJ MUHYIDDIN HJ MOHD YASSIN
Timbalan Presiden UMNO
Finally, let us pray to almighty God that the holy struggle of UMNO continues to be blessed by God. To God we submit and to Him we ask for assistance.

In peaceful struggle,

TAN SRI DATO’ HJ MUHYIDDIN HJ MOHD YASSIN
Vice President of UMNO

I'm no historian of politics, and I definitely don't have the equivalent statement from the GE-12, but it seems like there's some unprecedented rhetoric here (please comment below, if you disagree with me).

Overall, here are points of interest I see:
  • UMNO is explicitly self-conscious of its operational rigour; still referring to itself as a machine
  • UMNO is already making strategic moves to retain agility in its demographic pursuits
  • UMNO is still playing its best hands, of race, and religion
  • UMNO is willing to move hard, and fast, barring internal conflicts; here we see Muhyiddin committing support to Najib while alluding to younger leadership in the near future
  • if you're with UMNO, things are not looking too shabby
  • if you're against UMNO, I hope you know your game as well as they seem to know theirs
Happy politicking. I'm certainly not an expert at these matters, but I try to keep up with the superficial rhetoric as it evolves. Whoever you are, reader, you should too.

It was a bit too early for bed, and I saw a couple of related articles online, so I tried try and roll them into one comment in this post.

Most people who know my (Malaysian) political leanings are aware of my position somewhere between non-voting-non-partisanship, and intellectual cynicism of anarchic proportions. They're probably also aware that my spiel, is that I read too much about Malaysian politics at too young an age, and basically just decided to stay out of it for two to three decades.

Meanwhile, after graduating from college, I did make a point of studying Malaysia more closely, at various strata, by hanging out with people from different walks of life, etc. So most of the stuff above is old hat to me.
Yes, they've been on track for a while. No, they aren't going to get off track... no, they're not unidimensional, yes, they're smarter than that.

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