I used to propose unalike opinion over the issue of UMNO membership in my regular UMNO Divisional Committee meetings years ago.
Every Division was asked to register as many Malays as possible to be members of UMNO in order to strengthen the party by the numbers.
The leaders believed that by having massive membership would make the party strong as the numbers alone can make the party walk tall in any election against the opposition with small party members.
I was strongly against the idea of having mammoth and massive membership for the party as it would bring more negative than positive consequences in the end.
As usual, ideas that came from me or anyone like me would be instantaneously brushed off.
BUT I still hold to that idea of smaller party membership, like 1.5 million is reasonable numbers. The big and gigantic membership list is part of the problems the party faces at this instant.
To my simple minded argument, having big membership, the Division has to set up many new branches and that would be stickier as it is hard to manage the idiosyncrasies of members at the branch level.
At that time, UMNO memberships had grown up to almost 3 million nationwide and that formed almost 40% of the Malays in the peninsular Malaysia.
If the party has 40% of the Malay population there is very great tendency that it has to spend too much time on managing the members than building up its reception to the voting public.
The more branches the party have, the more infighting at the branch level where most of the voters are and ultimately it injures the strong party’s support pattern which we used to enjoy long ago.
At the material time, there were already messy fights at the ground level fighting for branch heads.
The losing group would have the propensity to connive with the opposition in the General Election and that would add up the numbers supporting the opposition in the ballot box.
In 1999 General Election, Kuala Pilah had 24,000 UMNO members but BN candidate Dato’ Napsiah Omar secured only 16,000 votes. Out of the 16,000 votes, 10,000 came from the non-Malay votes as the Chinese and Indians were all out in support of BN then.
To summarize the figures Napsiah only managed to secure 6,000 Malay votes and that included Malays who were non-UMNO members and that was the clear voting pattern everywhere in the Peninsula.
The same situation happened in 2008 General Election when more than 80% UMNO members voted for the opposition in many constituencies.
In conclusion there is nothing to shout at if we have millions of members. The 8th March 2008 election was another proof that big size does not necessarily capable to outdo the small-sized party.
In simple analogy, a big size man may not necessarily be a healthy man, but more often than not the man with big size body are taxed with a lot of diseases some terminal in nature.
UMNO should just have a small numbers of memberships as what most important function of the party is to build up respect and reception of the party by the voters.
People want to see that every policy that is set by the party is likened by the public.
Consequentially the people want to see that all policies are implemented appropriately and accurately and the people have the feel of the implementation of those policies with comfort.
Labor Party of Britain has registered members of less than 180,000 but that party is almost completing its third term as the government of Britain. So do the Conservative which is expected to win in the coming General Election has less than 150,000 members.
I think UMNO leaders’ thinking should be bent and curved in with the changing time.
Malaysian voters, like in advance democracies, are speedily looking at the competence of the ruling party to unveil solid and acceptable policies and correct implementation of the policies.
The people are not tolerating anymore corrupt practices which UMNO is perceived to be synonymous to; people look at corruptors as heinous and not worth supporting.
Committing corruption is too big a sin and it is indistinguishable with acts of sodomy, rape, and day light robbery.
It is not an easy task for UMNO to erase that perception as it has been an entrenched and implanted culture to the party and the blame should go to leaders since 2 decades ago for not addressing the issue seriously and sincerely.
The image of the party is dependable on the image of the leadership. The party must be perceived to be led by congregations of clean and respectable personalities with impeccable and unsullied records of quantifiable deeds to the nation.
To leaders with corrupt and criminal image, they must be ready to resign before the party is voted out and shelved aside by the people.
To UMNO the public is telling the party ingenuously, change the image of the party or you will be replaced by another.
Bear in mind, the people have been waiting for the change far too long and they don’t have any reserve for patience anymore.
To the exasperated public, UMNO has always been taking friendliness of the people as weaknesses and they just commit moral and political offenses with no qualms and guilt.
Lastly let us remind UMNO and its leadership forthrightly; a huge membership doesn’t guarantee a win; it may instead be a betrayal.
We should now find means and ways to reincarnate and reawaken the old and trustworthy leadership which we used to cheer with.
We are in burning desire to have another reappearance of leaders who are not in the race with the rakyat in businesses, and like what we see today, it has already become a norm.
Leadership of pre-Mahathir’s can be a good reference and perfect testimony to reach to that goal.
Those kind of good leaders are already hard to find but I am sure there is at least one or two still living and kicking mingling among the confused leaders in the party.
It is natural that good ones are hard to find but we will be in good care if we are successful in putting up successful efforts to find one for the sake of the nation we dearly feel the affection for.
This great nation is inimitable and she needs good, honorable, upright and trustworthy leader who is not in the league of corrupt and undignified sort.
This country needs restructuring and shakeup in all turfs; it is imperative to find someone who have had the experiences in planning and managing intricacies of Malaysian politics and re-engineering of multiracial, ethnics, religions and social fabrics of the country.
Leave the long sufferings of being led by corrupt and unspeakable leaders behind us and let us create another clean and memorable history for the sake of saving this lovely nation.
Everyone knows who are corrupts and who are not. Permit me to quote our popular Malay adage; bangkai gajah masakan boleh ditutup dengan nyiru.
Official Secret Act (OSA) can only protect the corrupt acts by the Law but that act can’t cover that heinous act by peoples’ perception.
Ultimately the rakyat will know every single truth. To those who feel disquieted by my writing in this instant will in the end agree with me; maybe a decade from now…but that’s fine with me.