The mainstream press reported on the Umno meeting on April 6, 2008 in Kuala Lumpur on the election debacle. Here is an insider's view of that meeting. Introductory remarks by Malaysia Today's Raja Petra Kamarudin.

 

On April 6, 2008, Umno organised an assembly at its headquarters in the PWTC in Kuala Lumpur. More than 1,000 'top division leaders' were said to have attended this assembly that was called to conduct a postmortem on Umno's and Barisan Nasional's poor showing in the recent general election.

Well, the entire 'gathering' was actually a smoke-and-mirrors stunt meant to create an impression that everything is under control and that Umno has still got its act together. The man who engineered the 'show' was none other than Muhammad son of Muhammad. Does that now answer your question as to why in heaven's name (Malaysian Prime Minister) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would want to recycle 'damaged goods' and bring him back into the party and then give him the most important job in the party, that of Information Chief?...

Yes, this is that special person who organised the assembly of 1,000 Umno division and information heads who were not even Umno members. And he managed to get Umno, Barisan Nasional, the media, and the entire country to believe that the assembly really took place. But one thing this man did not anticipate is that Malaysia Today has spies everywhere and what our spies reported was a far departure from what actually was. And get a load of this report from our spy who had me rolling on the floor laughing when he told me the story of the so-called assembly of 1,000 Umno leaders on April 6.

Dear Raja Petra Kamarudin,

Abdullah Badawi and Muhammad son of Muhammad claimed that they had a gathering of over 1,000 party members at the PWTC on Sunday, comprising mostly Ketua Penerangan Bahagian (Divisional Information folks) and Ketua Bahagian. Here is a report from The Star:

"Several Umno leaders have welcomed Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's frank explanation on issues affecting Barisan Nasional and Umno's poor showing in the general election. Umno Information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib said the party president had given a comprehensive speech touching on all factors that caused losses in certain parliamentary and state constituencies.

"With the sincere explanation by the party president we can understand the main factors which caused the losses in certain areas and the steps that should be carried out by Umno," he said after the closed-door briefing session by Abdullah to at least 1,000 grassroots leaders at PWTC here yesterday. Umno supreme council member Datuk Khaled Nordin said Abdullah had given a clear explanation about the position of the party and the problems it faced."

Or so it might seem. The purpose of the gathering was to conduct a postmortem on the worst electoral performance by UMNO since 1955. But there are only 193 Umno Divisions yielding 386 Ketua Bahagian and Ketua Penerangan. Who were the remaining 600 plus attendees?

Well, first of all there were very few Ketua Bahagian or Umno MPs in attendance. Rafidah was not there, Mukhriz was not there. And neither were Tengku Razaleigh and about 170 other Ketua Bahagian. They were all just not there. There were only a handful of Ketua Bahagian like Idris Jusoh, Shahidan Kassim, Tajol Rosli, Mustapa Mohamad, Najib, and a few others.

Please see this picture:


So who were those in attendance? I really don't know. But there were many teenaged girls there. You can see some of the teenagers in this picture in The Star:


They were definitely not Ketua Bahagian or Ketua Penerangan Bahagian or any kind of grassroots leaders. Look at the four women in the first row of this picture. The first two girls from the left were some of the teenagers who did not seem to know where they were or what they were doing. There were many women, like the woman in the blue blouse, who looked like they were forced to sacrifice their Sunday shopping to attend this gathering. Dear Raja Petra, this gathering was staged. It was a fake. It was not a gathering of 1,000 Umno grassroots leaders for the purpose of conducting any postmortem.

The bulk of the 1,000 people were just props (actors or extras) - possibly Civil Servants, ordinary Umno members and Puteri representatives - who were given some pocket money to attend so that they could fill up the seats at the PWTC. They may not even have been Umno members - the teenaged girls all looked like students. Being an Umno member let me tell you that bussing people to make the numbers at events is typically Umno.

Then, the next day, all the mainstream papers carried Badawi's 'blustering' accusations in his speech to the gathering. It came across that Badawi had had some vitamin booster shots or had consumed steroids laced with Viagra (or vice versa). But the fact is Abdullah was NOT addressing the gathering. If you look at the picture here, you can see that Badawi is not talking to the gathering of 1,000 people. Najib is standing behind him.


This was Badawi speaking to the Press after the gathering was over and done with. During the meeting, there were some hecklers who booed Muhammad son of Muhammad and who was actually the main speaker. Badawi took the stage and mumbled his way through. Then, most strange for an election postmortem, Muhammad son of Muhammad said no questions were allowed. People booed again. So Muhammad son of Muhammad asked for a vote by show of hands and, as can be expected, Muhammad son of Muhammad said the nays outvoted the ayes so there was no need for the Q&A.

Umno has suffered the worst losses since 1955 yet no questions were allowed. And they call this a postmortem.

Badawi had earlier said he would convene an independent committee to study why the ruling coalition performed so badly. Well, nothing has been heard about this independent committee since. Then Badawi said that the BN lost the cyber war and that is why they lost so many votes. Well, since Badawi has identified the reason for their losses, does this mean that there is no longer any need for the independent committee?

Then Badawi said Dr Mahathir is the one to blame for Barisan Nasional's poor performance in the recant general election - and so were Tengku Razaleigh and Anwar Ibrahim. Since Anwar is already an Opposition figure, I am surprised that he did not include Lim Kit Siang, Wan Azizah, Nik Aziz, PAS, DAP and PKR. He also said that Umno saboteurs are the reason why Umno lost 14 Parliamentary seats and 22 State seats.

This means that the independent committee will not be formed after all. Badawi has already successfully identified all the reasons for their debacle. Even if the committee is formed, its job will be just to confirm what Badawi has already said. I can't imagine the independent committee studying the reason for the BN losses and saying something different from Badawi. That would make Badawi look like an idiot, again.

When the Press asked Badawi how he would punish these mysterious saboteurs, he stumbled again. He seemed like he never expected this question. Muhammad son of Muhammad said they would think about that later as they need to handle matters 'one at a time'.

Najib says, since there were no official complaints of saboteurs, no action could be taken.

Badawi must explain why he thinks there are so many saboteurs in the party, which caused the loss of 14 Parliamentary and 22 State seats. Even during the 1987 Team A and Team B crisis, when Badawi joined Tengku Razaleigh, there were not these many saboteurs. When Anwar was fired in 1998 there were only saboteurs in Permatang Pauh.

I don't know what else to say. The party is being led by an incompetent leader and the party appears frozen in concrete and is not able to do anything about it.

Note: The above article was posted on www.malaysia-today.net (Your source of independent news). Raja Petra Kamarudin started the Malaysia Today website and his blog to facilitate open discussion on Malaysia's political and social scenes. A relative of a former Malaysian King from Selangor and known for his hard-hitting commentaries, which are often infused with humour, Raja Petra is also the author of When Time Stood Still and From Prince To Prisoner.

Other articles by Raja Petra:

Ku Li or Anwar? The Race Is On
The Countdown Begins
Between Reality And Perception
The Aftermath Of The 'Bloodbath'
Why We Are Voting Tomorrow
Guarding An Empty Field







For more... email mybigo@bigozine.com with the message, "Put me on your mailing list."

 
April 11, 2008
 

BLACK 14 GATHERING

Kelab Sultan Sulaiman, Kampong Baru, Kuala Lumpur, 9.00 pm, Monday, 14 April 2008. Countdown to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's end of five-year ban on contesting the election and holding public-political office.