Make sure you catch this Aliran Monthly cover story on the future of Umno by political scientist Johan Saravanamuttu.

Racial sentiments ran high, tears flowed, the rhetoric became warlike, 13th May’s ghost was resurrected and even God was invoked during the 66th United Malays National Organisation (Umno)’s convention which wound to its close on the first day of December 2012.

Gearing up for the ‘mother of all elections’ due to be held within months, Umno leaders were striking out a posture of solidarity and rallying the troops. However, belying the pomp, decibels and camaraderie was an undertone of the dominant political party of Malaysia losing much of its ‘mojo’ and somewhat in a survival mode.

Milling around the convention premises and listening to the emotionally charged speeches of delegates, one could not but palpably sense that Umno was a party under siege. Umno, as the political engineer of the unbroken 50-plus-year rule of the Barisan Nasional (BN), may indeed have been responsible for the loss of the ruling coalition’s customary two-thirds majority of seats in Parliament and five state governments in the 2008 general election, its worst electoral outing to date.

The fact that the Umno’s President Najib Razak, who is also the Prime Minister, has held back from calling a general election up until today suggests that Umno and its coalition partners continue to have doubts that their performance in the forthcoming election would be up to par. The window to call the election closes completely on 28 April 2013 by which time the government would have served out its maximum term of five years. The Election Commission would then have the option to hold the election within two months.

Catch the full story on the Aliran website.

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