We now have Khairy Jamaluddin as the Umno-Barisan Nasional candidate for Sungai Buloh.
Few will dispute his sense of competency. But is he the right candidate for people to vote for?
He seems to be a bright light within Umno-BN, and one is not surprised by his longing to be prime minister one day. But despite being an Oxford graduate, he has shown little leadership within his party.
He is at best a conformist and not a reformer. We will only get what we have received from Umno-BN all these years.
Khairy has been conditioned by Umno politics over the years and, for him, race or money politics is at best a necessary evil. He is wealthy by all counts and this should not surprise anyone. The same can be said for many within the Umno-BN camp.
Khairy was once referred to as the powerful figure on level four, while his father-in-law was PM. He is well-connected and, as such, has become who he is now.
This is the one opportunity for him to speak out and to claim a position for himself. The shifting sands call for him to seize the opportunity and chart a new pathway for BN. He has to become a grassroots leader if he is to earn the respect of all the people.
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He could be the one who enlivens the vision of Umno founder, the late Onn Jaafar. He could either convert Umno to stand for United Malaysian National Organisation or BN to be a united party not based on race.
If there are no visionaries within BN, its leaders will not be able to gauge the shifting sands of popular opinion. The fact is, PKR is a multi-racial party and so is the DAP. The others in the Pakatan Harapan pact all subscribe to non-racial politics.
If Umno-BN has any long-term future, it will lie in how the party reinvents itself into a multi-racial entity.
The days of ethnic politics are over. Everyone knows how corrosive and divisive this has been. Look at Umno, Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) and their respective coalition partners. They tell a story of serious Malay fragmentation.
They cannot unite amongst themselves and yet they want to lead a multi-ethnic plural society like Malaysia. This inability has discredited Umno-BN and many have been disappointed by the way our society has become racially polarised in all areas of life.
Ordinary people do not feel equal or respected as equals. Pas will be around as a small insignificant party that will champion religious issues. It will never be in a position to form a government on its own. The same goes with the mosquito parties within BN, PN and GTA.
The doyen of Umno-BN, Dr Mahathir Mohamad now leads another race-based party. His divide-and-rule tactic has fragmented all the parties he has been associated with. I hope he loses in Langkawi this time around. Many of us trusted him a second time but he betrayed us.
We may have misgivings about our representatives but vote for parties that champion multi-ethnic representation and respect diversity. We live at a time when Rishi Sunak is the Prime Minister of the UK, Kamala Harris the Vice-president of the US, Penny Wong the Foreign Minister of Australia, and Halimah Yacob the President of Singapore.
Islam is a diamond in the hearts and minds of Muslims everywhere and there is a need to show the world that racism is counter-intuitive within Islam, just as tribalism is wrecking Pakistan, Afghanistan and some parts of the Middle East.
The statement by a Muslim leader that he witnessed Islam in Japan but saw Muslims in Indonesia is apt. We have an opportunity in Malaysia to reflect this non-racial inclusive dimension so critically needed in the world.
We need political parties that champion issues that uplift the wellbeing of the people. The focus on personalities, race, religion, language and colour divides us, and we suffer the consequences. We cannot continue, you and I, to be political fodder used to satisfy the greed, selfishness and personal ambitions of politicians.
Six decades on and none in the present leadership of Umno-BN, Perikatan Nasional and Gerakan Tanah Air have given us confidence that the future will be different under their rule. We speak from painful experience.
Khairy may have dreams of becoming PM but he can do so only if he enters the same turf, the multi-ethnic turf where it is not race that matters but the socio-economic challenges that the people face. This is what needs to be tackled.
Khairy has to change. He has the mind, the education and age on his side. But the challenge is whether he has the capacity to transform himself from a conformist to a reformist with a vision for Umno-BN that is inclusive, participative and democratic.
For this, he needs time and I hope a loss in Sungai Buloh will teach him to look inside and fashion his party anew for the decades ahead. So my call in Sungai Buloh is to vote for a multi-ethnic party, not any individual.
By not voting for Khairy, Sungai Buloh voters will give Khairy time, and he will be in a position to reflect and ruminate on his future, his convictions and vision for Malaysia as well as for his party!
Six decades is enough and I do not trust caretaker PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob, PN chairman Mahiaddin Yasin or GTA chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad to make any difference. They have all had their chance(s) and failed badly. They are conditioned to act as they have done.
We need to vote to make a difference and send a message that the people want a different future – a difference that will not come from BN, PN or GTA.
It will not be delivered by their manifestos but by “kita boleh” (we can) for we ultimately can make the difference when we act wisely.