Sabah saved BN: Mahathir said
Kota Kinabalu: Barisan Nasional (BN) is lucky Sabah delivered in the worst-ever electoral performance by the ruling coalition last year.
BN may no longer be ruling the country if not for its performance in Sabah during the 2008 General Elections, said former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohammad.
"Presently BN is still in power at the central level. But if in Sabah BN did not get votes during the 2008 General Elections will it still be in power todayÉ we were lucky, just lucky," he said.
"If previously it was the peninsula which supported Sabah, now Sabah supports the peninsula É kalau lah ada kesedaran (only if there is conscience)," he added.
Towards this end he said Umno, the backbone of BN, needs to change if it does not want to meet the same fate of those political parties in other countries during the pre-independence era which contributed to their respective country's independence but now no longer exist.
Many of these political parties which fought for their independence no longer exist like the Masyumi Party in Indonesia, the Muslim League in Pakistan as well as the earlier political parties in Africa and so on. He said these parties, which had support from their people during the pre-independence era, could not continue because they lost the people's support.
"We need to ask ourselves why freedom fighters were rejected by the citizens of a country which they successfully freed from colonialists. If we do not know then we may end up following their footsteps and we will become a party that is no longer relevant and will be rejected by the rakyat," he said during a programme called "Wacana Ilmu: Generation of Post Independence" held at Pacific Sutera Hotel, Saturday.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman opened the programme organised jointly by the Puteri, Pemuda and Wanita Umno Sabah movements. Other Umno Sabah senior leaders were also present. Mahathir, who was also former President of Umno, said based on his own observation those political parties which fought for and gained independence for their country easily forgot the reasons for their success.
"They were successful because of their promises to free their country from the colonialists, so that they can govern their country themselves and when this happened the people believed they can take care of their own people's interests, those who gave their full trust and support to their party," he said.
But after gaining independence for their country, they forgot that they are fighting for their people and not for their own interest.
"They changed É they wanted to gain power for themselves, fulfil their self-interest and to get the highest posts for themselves, forgetting their promises to the people that the Government they form would be more fair and considerate to the people than the colonialists," he said.
"When the people realised the party no longer fought for them, for the people, then they felt frustrated and their support for the party slowly faded. In the end the party became weaker and weaker and then vanished," he said.
"That's why today we are no longer talking about the Masyumi Party, the Muslim League and others which existed during the pre-independence eraÉto the extent that now no one knows about their existence or people have forgotten about them."
Mahathir said similarly Umno also fought for the country's independence and this led to the formation of Malaysia. Mahathir said, however, the post-independence leaders of Umno, those who were born after Merdeka, seem to no longer remember about the party's struggles to achieve independence.
"They seem to believe that they were born in a country which already achieved independence, and thus the struggles for independence no longer have any meaning for them É to them Malaysia has already achieved independence and thus what is the need to appreciate the struggles for independence and those struggles of the founding fathers of Umno," he said.
"They also see many opportunities to improve their living conditions.
There are many young leaders of this party who also think their participation will guarantee their positions and income. Their struggles are no longer for the race, religion and nation but for getting a post, power which can bring them richness É then we have what is now called 'money politics'," he said.
He said they aim to get the highest position in the government, to become a Cabinet Minister or even Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister, because the higher they get the more money they will have.
"That is all their struggle is. And to achieve their struggles, they think if they can give money to certain people concerned they will get support and become the head of various levels available É and then they want to remain there, their whole life, and unfortunately our party system is like that where they can use money to retain their post.
"This is happening very glaringly in the peninsula, even the party branch-level chief," he said.
Mahathir also said that educated Malays who wanted to join Umno also feel it is hard to do so now because of the presence of party branch chiefs who wanted to retain their post and who feel the presence of these educated Malays as members of their branch will be a threat to them.
"Because the party constitution states that those wanting to become Umno members must join through the branch, the branch chiefs do not permit those who have qualification higher than him to join their branch.
"Besides, they do not want too many members in their respective branches because more money would be needed to retain their post," he said.
This is unlike PAS which welcomes all, educated or not, and any of those joining the party will get a chance to contest, hold a position and so on, he said, adding many educated Malays had approached him and told him they wanted to join the party but could not due to this problem.
"The people are watching this. They are not happy with the turmoil happening in Umno and they cannot voice it out because there are efforts to shut up those want to criticise, including myself," he said.
He said it is easy and there are various means for anyone to control Umno, but "we must not forget there is an election É people as the voters see what is happening in Umno and will exercise their voting power when the time comes," he said, adding these signs were also seen in the previous two general elections.