(SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK )-Attending the Umno general assembly is always a fascinating experience and the recently concluded one was no different.
The atmosphere was festive and some of the speeches were really good.
Of course, the most important part of the assembly was the opening speech by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Najib clearly wanted to galvanise Umno's election war room.
The speech was energetic and riveting.
Anyone who wants to see the direction of our country in this coming year must read the speech.
The most important section to me is under the heading "Umno-led vs DAP-led government". This section outlines the message Umno will use in the run-up to GE14.
In this section Umno claims Malaysia's 14th general election (GE14) will determine the fate of the Malays and bumiputras because the Malays and bumiputras are under threat.
If the non-Malays and non-bumiputras were to win GE14, they will destroy "bumiputra institutions" like MARA (Council of Trust for the People), the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), public university UiTM and others.
Listening to the speech on the day, and reading it again after that, I came under the impression that non-Malays cannot be trusted because they are always looking to sneak into power to destroy the policies and agencies that are assisting the Malays.
The code word being used in the speech is Democratic Action Party(DAP). But the speech does not target the DAP because of their political belief.
By logic, as a social democratic party the DAP is likely to continue if not enhance welfare programmes for the poor and social re-engineering policies that Umno rightfully initiated in the 1970s. But DAP is a threat because they are not Malays and because of that the Malays will lose out.
As we gear up for GE14, the speech is a brilliant one to galvanise Malay support for Umno.
Talking to people at the assembly, I get the sense that the speech was successful at achieving what it sets out to do. Those who contributed to the speech deserve to be congratulated for accurately diagnosing what the Malay party needs to win, and eloquently articulating them in the speech.
However, the success of the speech is also a major problem. I understand the speech as shoring up Malay support by sowing distrust against non-Malays. It cleaves the society into two, the threatened Malays and the threatening non-Malays. It positions GE14 as the battleground between the Malays and the non-Malays.
In order to win any election, political parties need to have allies and they also need to clearly identify a common enemy.
That is typical of the tried and tested divide and rule strategy that has been effective in almost all places around the world. If voters bought into this idea, then I have no doubt that Umno will win handsomely in GE14.
Umno is attempting to bring the Malays together by placing non-Malays as the enemy.
The DAP is being positioned as the enemy by putting them as the party that threatens Malay supremacy.
Parties that are willing to accept a subservient position are not grouped here.
It is no surprise then that Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) is also gradually getting more friendly to Umno, because PAS too is a Malay party.
The narrative is being changed from 1Malaysia to one of Malays vs non-Malays, thereby nudging all Malay groups to band together.
A major danger looms.
Umno is positioning GE14 as an ethnic clash between the Malays and the rest.
If successful, I believe Umno will win but the campaign battle and GE14 will cleave our country into a situation that would be very difficult to repair in the future.
If this is the election strategy, it is likely that from now to GE14 we will see even more rhetoric to convince the Malays that the non-Malays are dangerous and deceitful.
The code word will always be DAP.
But the implication is clear and dangerous.
It is a winning strategy in the immediate term, but it could cost the country dearly in the long run.
The worst part in all this is the impotence of other Barisan Nasional component parties. For example, in paragraph 137 of the speech, the DAP is said to be dangerous because their party constitution does not have provisions to uphold the position of Islam or the Rulers.
But the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) or Gerakan do not have those specific provisions either. They too treat these important issues under the banner of upholding the Federal Constitution, and rightly so.
If the DAP is evil because they don't have those very specific clauses, then other BN parties are equally evil.
Yet I don't expect any of the BN component parties to object.
Instead they will find creative ways to defend their ultimate master because their position now is subservient to Umno.
Let us be clear here. There are other parties that exploit ethnic sentiment too, including the DAP.
There have been speeches by DAP leaders that create the same impact. We must object to all the ethnically-driven hate-mongering and politics of fear.
Those who have followed my writing and speeches will know that I do not choose sides when it comes to rejecting divisive agenda.
Two negatives do not make a right, and we must object them all equally.
It is just that this particular article is about the recently concluded Umno assembly. There will other opportunities to comment about others.
When the assembly concluded, I walked out with a sense of confidence about Umno's looming victory in GE14 if things continue as they are in our country.
Umno's strategy is a very good one for the party and is likely to help Umno win.
Sadly, that victory will be at a great cost to the nation.
Ages ago the Malays coined the saying menang sorak kampung tergadai (you celebrate your win at the expense of your own people).
This strategy may lead to parti bersorak negara bercerai (The party may be cheering but the country could see a split).
The writer is the chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, Malaysia