Umno has 191 divisions nationwide. More than 161 divisions were against the idea by Najib Razak to abolish the Sedition Act whereas 92 divisions supported the plan by Ismail Sabri Yaakob to boycott the Chinese … traders.
According to public opinion polls, Najib’s popularity is sinking by the day.
In the last quarter of 2014, his approval rating had dropped to 48 percent compared to 63 percent in the last quarter of 2012. The figure was 52 percent in the last quarter of 2013.
Below: Merdeka Center survey result
Given hero’s welcome
Ismail Sabri is meanwhile the man of the hour.
A few days ago (Feb 3), Ismail received a standing ovation from party members packing the Umno hangout cafe in PWTC when he declared that he will not apologize for his Facebook statement.
Ismail is currently being greeted again with thunderous applause not only from his party people but also the Malay Everyman when he called out the DAP as Father of All Racists.
A man of action
For too long, the DAP has gotten a free pass in labelling Umno a racist party and dissing the party faithful as “Umnoputras” – a four-letter word. Thus the payback by Ismail Sabri comes as a welcome respite.
Malays are cheering him on because the previously low profile and hitherto unassuming cabinet minister has shown himself willing to confront the enemy.
Najib, on the other hand, is unable to correctly identify who the enemy is. Instead of firing bullets at the other side, he preferred to shoot his own camp.
Channeling the Umno mood
Ismail Sabri is hugely popular in Umno. He received the second highest most delegate votes in the election for its supreme council (2013-2016 term).
Number of delegate votes
1. Mustapa Mohamed: 90,596 (187 divisions)
2. Ismail Sabri Yaakob: 90,584 (185 divisions)
3. Jamil Khir Baharom: 90,258 (187 divisions)
4. Idris Jusoh: 87,210 (185 divisions)
5. Idris Haron: 84,218 (186 divisions)
The top 25 finishers make the cut for the supreme council based on divisional votes under Umno’s revamped election system implemented for the first time in 2013.
Ismail is someone obviously attuned to the spirit of Umno for him to have garnered such widespread support from the party delegates.
So the more the DAP hits out at him and the more he hits back, the more popular this Umno leader will become. Conversely, the more that the still immensely popular Tun Mahathir is assailed by the Najib faction, the more unpopular will be their boss.
Know your enemy
Although it is unlikely that Najib had personally ordered the attacks on the ex-premier as well as on Tun Daim Zainuddin, nonetheless permitting them to be carried out is self-defeating for the Umno president if not self-destructive for Umno.
Dr M in his Che Det blog some days ago (Feb 4) complained about being demonized by (hired) bloggers in relation to the 1MDB affair. Furthermore, online commenters known as “Najib’s cybertroopers” have been making derogatory comments about Tun in the Malaysiakini readers’ responses and elsewhere.
On the part of the former finance minister, Daim says he is being seen as an “opposition” personality. Similarly targeted as enemy by Najib’s media handlers are Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin and Datuk A. Kadir Jasin, both of whom are generally tagged as Mahathir allies.
(The J-Star also treats Zam as a foe)
Battling internal, not external opponents
Ismail Sabri is wildly popular for taking on the DAP and the Chinese due to the minority community largely being seen as DAP apparatchiks, on top of “biaDAP”.
Najib, alas, is not winning the Malay popular stakes – not when attacks on Tun Mahathir, Tun Daim, Tan Sri Zam and other critics of the Prime Minister are reflective of his team’s handiwork regardless that the PM himself may not be complicit in the smear campaign.
In fact, the Special Branch should easily be able to confirm for Najib how unpopular he is at the moment on the ground.
The BN chairman will never get Chinese endorsement whatever contortions he executes in bending over backwards to mollify them while at the same time, Najib is making the Malay grassroots makin meluat for absorbing all the abuse of them – “racist”, “extremist”, “bigot”, “spewers of hate” – without any demur.
Survived the Chinese tsunami
Ismail Sabri’s Parliament constituency Bera in Pahang has 31.9 percent Chinese voters. He survived the Chinese onslaught although they went ABU at full tilt during the last general election.
Ismail’s big name Pahang compatriot, former Deputy Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, lost his Temerloh Parliament seat which has a 24.2 percent Chinese electorate.
Other Umno losers in the bid for Parliament were the outgoing Malacca Chief Minister Ali Rustam in Bukit Katil (40.8% Chinese) and Deputy Minister Puad Zarkashi in Batu Pahat (45.7% Chinese).
The Chinese have done their worst – or to put it another way, taken their best shot – in GE13 but Umno is still standing.
It is already proven that Umno can rule alone without any need for Chinese co-operation as demonstrated in Perak where there is only one Chinese Adun (MCA) in the BN’s 31-member state assembly. Thirty of the BN Perak Aduns are Umno.
Strategic path to GE14
It is evident that Umno has veered to the ideological right.
The Umno leadership has begun to realise too that the MCA is no longer an asset but a liability, and one that is harbouring a nest of evangelistas in its media empire to boot.
Ismail Sabri’s outburst is really as much about race as it is about consumer empowerment. He is adeptly channeling the Malay angst that is the result of the DAP’s culture of slander, insult and provocation.
Rather than countering the DAP’s Politics of Hate, MCA chooses to aid and abet their kinsmen. Too bad then that Chinese traders are scapegoated for the behaviour of the evangelical party which 90 percent of them presently support.
As the clock ticks, time is running out for Najib. His defenders’ chiefest sorry excuse for him is “Kalau bukan dia, siapa lagi yang ada?”
It has reached a point today where some Malays are so menyampah that they don’t care anymore – Asal Bukan Najib.
Show some spine, will ya?
And seemingly out of the blue, Umno frontbencher Ismail Sabri is finding himself to be the pole around which the Malays are rallying – a role which the Umno president abdicated.
At this rate that he’s championing race and religion issues, Ismail is a bright prospect to be a vice president contender in the 2016 party election.
Tun Mahathir (minute 0:59), see Sinar TV news clip below:
“Pemimpin yang kuat hanya dapat menunjukkan kekuatannya apabila diuji. Jika dalam ujian itu, pemimpin itu gagal maka kita tidak boleh anggap pemimpin itu sebagai kuat walaupun didakwa bahawa kuat tetapi apakah prestasinya? Apakah kebolehannya menangkis serangan yang datang bertalu-talu ke rakyat negara kita daripada luar dan juga daripada dalam? Apabila seorang pemimpin tewas dalam menghadapi serangan-serangan ini, kita tidak percaya bahawa pemimpin itu kuat.”
Presiden paling lembik dalam sejarah Umno
Tun is taking the mickey out of Najib.
Najib is not at all countering the incessant attacks that are making the Malays feel as if they’re under siege.
Seriously, the Umno prez must grow a pair or otherwise Umno might soon decide that it is capable of outgrowing dynastic politics.