The UMNO Assembly after Abdullah Badawi assumed PM-ship paved the way for an early political `tsunami’ in 2004 General Elelctions. The dissappointment with the performance of Badawi led to the next `tsunami’ sweeping the other way against UMNO in 2008 GE. Now that Najib become PM and come out with another sweet talking `1 Malaysia’ General Assembly -is it another hint for a General Elelctions? An analyst think so:
Déjà ‘vu: Is it 2004 again?
OCT 19 — I spent most of last week watching the Umno AGM. Several things struck me (I’m sure you feel the same way).
a) There was hardly any Ketuanan Melayu speeches — yes, bits and pieces here and there but nothing like what we saw in the past few Umno gatherings
b) The keris disappeared from Umno Youth meeting
c) A new symbol appeared everywhere: 1 Malaysia was as prominent as the Umno logo. In fact the 1 Malaysia logo was larger than the Umno logo in the main hall
d) The overall tone was much more inclusive rather than Malay-centric
The most impressive speech was by the Umno Youth chief. By now you would have read about it but unfortunately, the powers-that-be did not see fit to print his speeches in the Malay newspapers so I am assuming that the bulk of the Malay population do now know the full details of his speech about the need for the Malays to be more competitive and move towards a more merit-based system. Astro Awani, hugely popular among the Malay middle class, also did not go into the details of his speech despite hours devoted to the Umno AGM.
But the thing that really struck me was how much this was like 2004. Prior to the 2004 general election, then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi came up with the “Work with me and not for me” tagline (too bad his own party worked against him in the end!). It captured the imagination of the electorate and was a contributing factor is the landslide by Umno and BN. Abdullah’s message was inclusive and his vows to do something about the police and corruption really captured the mood of the electorate.
Back to 2009 and I am seeing the same things here. The Umno president’s speech was all-inclusive and his stress on 1 Malaysia and “People First. Performance Now” tagline is creating the “feel good” atmosphere we saw just before the 2004 general election during Pak Lah’s time.
I cannot help but feel that the 13th general election is coming and that we are seeing a replay of the same playbook for the coming general election. The propaganda specialists (I cannot use the “4th Floor boys” anymore since they are no longer physically there) are acutely aware that the economy will bounce back early next year and that it would an excellent time to call for a general election. I therefore predict that we will see the 13th GE in 2010. Hence all the 1 Malaysia speeches and the inclusive message of respect, love and diversity. It is no accident that the first huge gathering of 1 Malaysia was held in Perak. Perak, more than any other state, needs the “feel good” atmosphere.
The next question then is that will it be “1 Malaysia” and “People First. Performance Now”? People reading this will think probably not. I beg to differ. Most of you who read this are not representative of the general voters. The typical Malaysian voter is not very sophisticated and has a short memory. If Umno plays its cards well I suspect it will sell and we will see Umno making a big comeback in the 13th GE. The only problem area for “1 Malaysia” and “People First. Performance Now” is the component parties. MIC and MCA are in disarray and if they can resolve their differences by the end of this year, then its all-systems-go for the next general election.