Dr M: Why UMNO did so badly in GE2008

by Dr Mahathir Mohamad

DATUK Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the president of Umno, chairman of the Barisan Nasional and Prime Minister of Malaysia has blamed everyone else except himself for the miserable performance of the coalition in the 12th general election.

He has blamed the whole electorate for not wanting him to get a two-thirds majority; BN members and Umno members in Kedah and Perak for sabotage; Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for BN’s defeat in Kelantan and myself for speaking against him and his government.

He is not too far wrong. There is a lot of truth in what he says. I know that many Umno members voted for the Opposition. I admit that what I said may have influenced some of them into doing the unthinkable.
But the more important question is why did they do this. Umno members had always been loyal to the party. They would never vote for the Opposition, particularly PAS and DAP. Yet they did in the 2008 general election. How else could the Opposition parties win if they did not get the votes of BN supporters? The reduction in the votes for BN candidates very nearly matches the increase in votes for the opposition parties.

In the last 50 years and 11 general elections Umno members and the average Malaysian had never failed to support Umno or the Alliance/BN. Except for 1969 when the Chinese withdrew their support, the Alliance and the BN had won a two-thirds majority every time.

Umno members did not want their party to lose. But they needed to send a message to Abdullah and his coterie of “Yes Men”. They could not speak their minds because all avenues were closed to them. Delegates to the Umno General Assembly were chosen because they would not criticise the president. My son Mukhriz had commented that there was nothing new in the president’s speech in 2006 and he was called up by the Umno Youth Committee, was scolded and told to choose between his father and the president.

Some Umno members could not bring themselves to vote for the Opposition. And so they deliberately spoiled their votes. There were more than 300,000 spoilt votes in all, a record. It cannot be that after 50 years and 11 elections the voters still did not know how to vote.

The leadership apparently believed that Umno members would vote for any candidate chosen by the party leader. The leadership, was grossly mistaken.

But so angry were the Umno voters that they voted even for opposition candidates who were educationally unqualified and inexperienced.

Early in his term of office, Abdullah decided not to go ahead with the so-called mega projects initiated by me. That was his right. But what was not right and what caused people to think he was being vindictive was the suggestion that I was wasting money on my many “pet” projects so much so that the government no longer had money to continue with them. Actually people know the projects were necessary. Imagine Malaysia without the KLIA, Sentral Station, Penang Bridge, North-South Highway, double-tracking and electrification, the LRT and monorail for Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, toll roads, Westport, Tanjung Pelepas Port, Formula 1 circuit, KL Tower, ports, etc.

People felt that he and his cabinet colleagues, many of whom were appointed by me were most ungrateful. People know that but for me Abdullah would not be the prime minister today. So were most of the others for they were made ministers by me. They used to be my strong supporters, kissing my hand and some cried when I stepped down. Now they turned on me and denigrated me in a most unbecoming way. I don’t really care but I think the people regard this behaviour as just bad.

If Singapore could not agree to build a straight bridge unless sand was sold to it, we could have gone on to build the “crooked” bridge which had nothing to do with Singapore. Irked by the refusal of Johoreans to sell sand and allow Singapore warplanes to fly over Johor air space, Abdullah disallowed the construction of even the “crooked” bridge. Why?

I am sure it was because the one billion cubic metres of sand he wanted to sell to Singapore was objected to by Johor. Someone stood to make RM1 billion or more over 20 years from the sale of sand. Singapore would like to have the sand at above market price even as the land reclaimed would be sold at S$3,000-S$5,000 per sq ft.

There were many other unpopular things done by Abdullah which alienated Umno and BN members and the voters in general. If there is anyone to blame for the miserable performance of Umno and BN, it is Abdullah himself. This is the opinion of the vast majority of Malaysians. If they are allowed to speak freely, this is what they would say.

DAP and PAS will want to ensure that Abdullah remains until the next election because, as in 2008, the disgusted BN supporters will vote for the Opposition. This will be even more likely if PAS and DAP provide good government for the states under their care.

When that happens there will be no hope for Umno to make a comeback.


Read the full letter here at theSun.


I’m actually finding it quite amusing that Dr M is still going on about wanting Pak Lah to step down as president of UMNO, and to step down as Prime Minister of Malaysia. He’s still going on about how UMNO lost because of bad leadership. He’s still going on about how there is no more democracy in UMNO.

I find him quite sour, really. And I’m still not quite sure of the reason why. Is he really so upset that UMNO fared so miserably during the last general elections? Or is he just upset that Pak Lah decided to shelf some of his mega-projects, and technically “shelf” some of his “people”?

I find the part about the “crooked” bridge that was to be built across to Singapore the most amusing of most that he said. I knew about the demands from Singapore that they would want air space should they agree to build the bridge. It was in the newspapers during that time. And I was of an opinion that it was the right thing to do to scrap that project, if it meant that we would need to give Singapore a right to our skies. It could very well have jeopardised our national security.

“Someone stood to make RM1 billion or more”? That’s massive. So we’re talking about corruption now? But I guess corruption was always part of the government. And a huge part of politics.

But back to his letter, I get the feeling that for the most part, he was not happy with the way his “mega-projects” were scrapped, and how the ministers that used to “kiss his hand” now don’t do that anymore. He’s basically pissed that he’s not getting the recognition and respect that he used to get in barrel-loads when he was the premier.

Yes, he’s done a lot for the country during his 22 years as Prime Minister. And he has listed quite a few of his accomplishments in this letter of his. We all know what he did for the country.

But not everyone does things his way. Not everyone thinks like he does. He’s just got to accept the fact.

One more thing that’s amusing about what he wrote is, and I quote: ‘Except for 1969 when the Chinese withdrew their support, the Alliance and the BN had won a two-thirds majority every time’. Meaning that he acknowledges the fact that it has always been the Chinese who made sure that Barisan Nasional got the 2/3 majority that they wanted.

There’s been so much going on about how UMNO is giving in to pressure from the non-Malays after GE2008. How they should not listen to them, because they “betrayed” Barisan Nasional by voting for the Opposition. But here we have the ex-PM who’s saying that it’s always been the Chinese voters who had been giving them the mandate. Not the Malays, as they’ve always been split to start off with.

You want to talk race? Let’s not. It’s a dark place.

Fact is, UMNO and BN have been given chance after chance for these 50 years. And with every general election, they fail to acknowledge this fact. And they’ve been getting more and more arrogant. They think it’s their “right” to claim more than 2/3 of the seats in Parliament. They think it’s their “right” to have to power to amend the Constitution at their whims and fancies. They think it’s their “right” to do what they want with the people’s money.

We’re now taking back this “right” that they claimed for themselves. They don’t have such “rights”, they never did. And they’re finding it difficult now that they don’t have what they used to have. They don’t know how to function without all that power that they so blatantly misused. They don’t know what to do now that there are 82 MPs who are constantly breathing down their necks.

They’re still not used to the fact that they have been stripped of their “rights”. Probably the reason why they are still in the finger-pointing stage. Because they don’t know how to move forward.

With all due respect, Dr M is also not quite getting it. All his concerns so far have only been for UMNO. Was this also his priority during his 22-year tenure as the Prime Minister of Malaysia?

What about the people of Malaysia? Are they less important than power?

It’s all about power, is it not? They want Pak Lah to step down, so that the people will support UMNO with Najib at the helm (like that’s EVER going to happen. Only shows how detached these UMNO fellows are from the people). Why do they want the people to support UMNO? They want the power. They want the “right” to power that they don’t have now.

But they’re missing the whole point. The ONE AND ONLY way to get the people’s support is to do what the people want you to do. You do good for the people and the country, then you get support. Then you do MORE good, and the people will continue to support. The minute you think it’s your RIGHT to have that kind of power, and you start doing things for your OWN good, the support will disappear, just like that.

It’s so obvious that they must be under tempurungs to not be able to see it.

Get over yourselves. We couldn’t really care less who’s the President of UMNO (except, maybe, we don’t want it to be Najib). It doesn’t matter what kind of power-shift UMNO performs. Because, in the end, what the people want is a government that serves the rakyat. What good is a government that doesn’t do that? What good is a government that doesn’t have the people’s interest at heart?

Have a look at Lim Kit Siang’s blog, where he put up videos of a Parliament session where he was talking about the charges against RPK. The BN reps who stood up all talked about “protecting Najib’s good name”. And all Lim Kit Siang was talking about was how the law was being unreasonable and unjust against a citizen of Malaysia.

The BN MPs are protecting.. who? They’re protecting another BN rep. Why? Najib is a Member of Parliament, for crying out loud. I’m sure he can very well protect himself. He can speak for himself. He has a voice in Parliament.

But us rakyat don’t have that voice. That’s why we have MPs who’re supposed to represent us in Parliament. They’re supposed to be our voices. What do these BN people think they’re doing? Have they forgotten about us?

I think they have. And if that’s the case, then it’s about time we forget about them too.


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