KOTA BARU: Umno is now perceived by many to be racist because its leaders cannot articulate effectively to the masses about the pre-Independance social contract, nor can they defeat abuses of the New Economic Policy (NEP).
Umno has lost its intellectual capacity to address misgivings among Malaysians and this has led to a perception that it is a racist party.
To further compound this, Umno leaders have lost credibility in the eyes of the public following the stunning losses in the March 8 general election, party veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said.
Speaking on Saturday at the opening of Kelantan’s People Action Council (MTRK) forum on Independance at the Grand Riverview Hotel, the Kelantan prince said it has now become common to see people define Umno as a racist party.
Why it has reached such a stage can be traced to three reasons, Tengku Razaleigh said.
The first is because parties with self-interests capitalise on the definitions of freedom and human rights to portray Umno as racist besides condoning a mischievous interpretation of the Federal Constitution.
The second is the complacency of Umno leaders who have allowed certain quarters to question the social contract and while rebuffing critics, Umno has not been able to shake off the stigma of been perceived as racist, he said.
Thirdly, there is no sincere effort to address the misgivings and misinterpretation over the definition of racism in the country.
Racism is where one race advocates hatred against the other and its actions underpin it, such as when the Nazis executed the Jews, explained Tengku Razaleigh.
''Umno advocates none of the above. It has never sought to close down any vernacular schools in the country. It knows how to co-exist with other races but yet, it is perceived to be racist,'' he said.
Umno needs to reinvent itself by upholding the social contract when studied through, is designed to be fair to all races, he said.
Tengku Razaleigh said many non-Malays believed that Umno or the Malays are the drivers of Malaysia.
''Of late, the Malays have become reckless and bad drivers until the Government is branded as inefficient,” he said.
Tengku Razaleigh said another step towards reinventing the party is to restore the moral credibility in the party.
''Is it too late? I hope not but Umno must come to terms about regaining the trust of the people. It must be seen as trustworthy.''
Corruption is an open secret in the country either through the public sector or within Umno until it has become a crisis to the party where only rich candidates would be voted while competency is ignored, he added.
Later, he said there is a need for stronger leadership in the country as it would prevent certain quarters from raising questionable issues which can further divide rather than mend relations among Malaysians.