Umno-Nomics a must-read
Writer: Wan Saiful Wan Jan
Published: Fri, 03 Aug 2012
Let us be clear right from the beginning. This book is partisan. The authors, Teh Chi-Chang and Johnny Ong, are not trying to be neutral.
Their dislike of Umno policies is evident, and the purpose of this book is to convince readers why Pakatan Rakyat, the coalition that they obviously support, is better.
Yet the publication of this book must be welcomed because it sets a different tone for political differences. Too often in our country, partisan politics is associated with blind loyalty and the belief that “my party is always right” and “your party is always wrong”.
The reasoning behind these claims rarely matter.
I personally disagree with this rigid approach because I believe that Pakatan is not an angel and Umno is not the devil.
Big groupings like political parties are bound to have a mix of angels and devils side-by-side.
I also believe that when it comes to political parties, no one side has a monopoly on wisdom or the truth. For example, I, for one, am quite fond of the economic vision of Prime Minister Najib Razak, especially the economic liberalisation spirit contained in the New Economic Model.
But the great weakness of Barisan Nasional is in the implementation of this noble vision. The parties in the coalition, and in fact even Umno itself, seem to not subscribe fully to Najib’s vision and this leads to discrepancies in the implementation.
Even though the vision is correct, the implementation is wrong.
There is a lot that Umno and BN still need to do to bring rhetoric to reality.
Nevertheless, only very rarely do we ever discuss differences in real policies.
Many choose sides despite policies.
Blind loyalty and absurd politicking still prevail and this trend is most unhealthy.
We must move towards a society that makes partisan choices founded on well-argued, policy-based reasoning.
This book is a brilliant step towards that aspiration as it explains rationally why the authors feel Pakatan is better than Barisan.
It doesn’t simply say “anything but Umno”.
Instead it helps readers to finish the sentence “anything but Umno because….”.
The book is another good step towards the standard of politics that we must aspire to.
Pakatan supporters must read this book so that they have more cogent arguments for their allegiance beyond “because Umno is wrong”.
And those who support Umno or BN must read it to understand why the other side is so upset with them.
In any political battle, it always help to know what the other side is thinking.
If we can have more authors following the footsteps of Chi-Chang and Johnny, writing about complex socio-economic issues in such a simple, readable and fun way, the Malaysian political scene would surely
become more dynamic.
In a way, this book is also a challenge to those in Umno to find better ways to explain their policies to the masses.
Wan Saiful Wan Jan is chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (www.IDEAS.org.my)