Will Malaysia be better without Umno? Sin Chew Daily columnist

Ex-Malaysian PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaking to a crowd in Ampang Jaya, Selangor, in a roadshow for the Save Malaysia campaign.
Ex-Malaysian PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaking to a crowd in Ampang Jaya, Selangor, in a roadshow for the Save Malaysia campaign.ST PHOTO: TRINNA LEONG

Lim Sue Goan 
Sin Chew Daily/Asia News Network 

Despite harsh criticisms and widespread suspicions, the "Save Malaysia" alliance remains a united team. 

No disunity, but the road ahead is full of challenges and it will take a whole lot of effort to see through its goals.

As former PM Tun Mahathir has said, all that is left now is a non-violent and legalised approach of getting "Citizens' Declaration" signed by all Malaysians for submission to the Malay Rulers. 

But, this will have to be endorsed by all Malaysians and will take time. 

We cannot expect any major breakthrough within a short period of time.

Anyway, the birth of Save Malaysia alliance and its active campaigning among the people should evolve over time into a reckoned force that will counteract the power that is.

Controversial as it is, it nevertheless offers some space for contemplation whether their call has been effective in establishing a path for the country's future.

Mahathir's speech during the launch of the Citizens' Declaration indeed has given a chance for Malaysians to conduct some deep soul-searching. 

When asked whether it was a mistake for him to pick Najib as prime minister, Mahathir said the mistake had its root way back to Tun Razak's time because it was Tun Razak's fault to have recommended him to Hussen Onn who later erroneously picked him as the prime minister.

Mahathir was hinting that if he had not been chosen the prime minister, then we wouldn't have Najib as our prime minister today because he handpicked Abdullah as his successor and it was his advice to Abdullah that Najib be chosen as the deputy.

So, he was not the only one at fault. Tun Razak and Hussein Onn were to be blamed as well.

That said, what has been done cannot be undone. 

Indeed, if we could turn back time, Umno's founder Onn Jaafar would have opened up the party to non-Malays to form a truly multiracial party. 

And if then Umno leaders and members accepted his proposal, this country would have been very different now.

What I want to stress here is that Mahathir's speech seemed to have told us one thing, that all that we have gone through over the past decades have been closely associated with Umno. 

It is Umno that has dictated the country's destiny, from the choice of PM to the successors, everything is determined by Umno which has absolute power over the choice of the country's leader.

The New Economic Policy mooted by Tun Razak has decided the country's economic directions, and its spirit infiltrating deep into the core of the Malaysian government. 

Many still believe the New Economic Model will forever remain a castle in the air so long as NEP is not uprooted.

Mahathir made use of the ISA to tackle his political rivals and dissidents, even to the extent of infringing the independence of the country's judicial system, and this is yet to be rectified to this day.

We need to think over what Mahathir has said but must also put forward some queries: 

Will this country be a better place without Umno? 

Can Umno really bring about the changes? 

If yes, why no changes have been instituted so far? If we were to continue allowing Umno to decide the choice of prime minister, how can we be sure the old mistakes will not be repeated?

Mahathir only comes to admit his "tyranny" at this advanced age, but does he have the capacity to reverse his past misdeeds? 

Will he be able to influence the rural Malays to effectuate the change? If "Save Malaysia" alliance does have its day some time, how is it going to spearhead an overhaul of existing system?

Reformation of existing system takes time. Moreover, developments over the past half century have badly bruised the country's systems. 

Overhauling the existing system is a very major undertaking that can never be achieved in such a short time. Mahathir is already 91 this year, and the time he may have is not enough for us to see the change.

Muhyiddin and Mukhriz are still thinking of going back to Umno's core leadership. 

How could we expect the Umno loyals to reform the country? In the meantime, with the opposition still in deep conflicts, will they ever work together in unity for the sake of this country?

As such, we really need courageous and spirited young people with no partisan backgrounds to help create a whole new system that is equitable, democratic, liberal and competitive.

With the current political climate stagnant and race-oriented politics taking the front seat, there is little hope we can see a real change in the existing system. 

The road ahead will continue to be narrower and narrower as we move further, as internal exhaustion gets intensified and the national economy coming under siege.

This might sound alarmist to some, but has our country become any better over the years? This is a question all patriotic Malaysians should ask themselves.