08
Jun
09

Nasharuddin’s Victory: Is it good? by Sakmongkol AK47

It’s bad for UMNO. It will stultify the much needed internal changes shouted about.

Nasharudin Mat Isa’s victory over Husam Musa, showed two things:-

  1. UMNO is really scared of Anwar Ibrahim. Hence the defeat of Anwar’s chief ally in PAS, Husam Musa is hailed all around.
  2. That victory will further induce UMNO’s paralysis. It actually does not want to change. The Nasharudin victory is seen as a much needed life support machine to UMNO.

What is happening now is while the base on which UMNO derives its support has undergone tremendous changes, the top or superstructure has lagged behind. UMNO simply does not get it. More Malays did not vote for them during the last elections and they still refuse to change. The party becomes the lid which can longer contain the build up of internal pressures. The leadership stubbornly resists changes and welcomes any excuses that can justify its obstinacy.

What is it that UMNO needs now to ensure its longevity and continued relevance? What it must do after the disastrous performance in the 12th GE and amidst the party’s declining credibility and with it, its legitimacy, is to undertake invasive surgery upon itself. Yes, that would be in line with the avowed declarations that UMNO must change radically. Who said that is now no longer important.

One simple glitch that could dampen the already not serious intention is a sudden feeling of false security. This could come in the form of thinking and feeling that the victors in the recently concluded PAS elections are sympathetic to UMNO’s agenda.

This is why I see Nasharudin Mat Isa’s victory is not good for UMNO. It will prevent UMNO from undertaking its own internal re-engineering. It will provide the flimsiest excuse for UMNO not to undertake its own reforms. Because of that, UMNO is just prolonging its inevitable demise. The prematurely ejaculated enthusiastic responses from UMNO people serve only to betray the true unwillingness to change. How could we expect those with vested interests to sign away their privileges?

Let us use some simple concepts in economics to analyse why this is so. If the euphoria from UMNO supporters to the Nasharudin win is an indication, then PAS under the stewardship of Hadi Awang and Nasharudin places the party and UMNO in the context of substitute goods.

In economics, a good or service is a substitute good in so far as the two goods can be consumed or used in place of one another. It is an either/or choice which makes no difference as whichever one we eventually chose. Hence, if we vote for PAS, it makes no difference not to vote for UMNO because our decision serves the same purpose.

This is what the Nasharudin Isa’s win makes PAS. It makes the party an almost perfect substitute for this thing called UMNO. Then UMNO is the BUTTER to PAS’s MARGARINE or UMNO is the PETROLEUM to PAS’s NATURAL GAS. The last two goods are used for heating or electricity and it does not make difference whichever good we use for the purpose we have in hand.

The notable economic effect of these two goods being almost perfect substitutes is that the demand for one good is tied tot the other god. Hence customers can TRADE OFF one good for the other if it becomes advantageous to do so.

Therefore, if now I feel it is advantageous to choose PAS because it’s an almost perfect substitute for UMNO, then I will tell myself why not? I am not losing out on anything. PAS can deliver the same things as UMNO can.

The danger is this- if UMNO makes itself more expensive such as by portraying itself as all round obnoxious entity, then people will gravitate towards PAS. This follows from the principle that an increase in price of good A will result in an increase in demand for its substitute. For example an increase in the price of timber for home construction will result in increased business in concrete.

Now, PAS under Nasharudin and Hadi Awang is a perfect substitute for UMNO because PAS can deliver the same things UMNO can. Theoretically speaking, in case of a price difference, there would be no demand for the more expensive good.

Imagine now, UMNO makes itself more expensive in a number of ways. Its leadership is bereft with riffraff, nondescripts and low quality leadership. Its culture of personal aggrandizements is pervasive and destroying any residual idealism. It is haughty and its image is revolting. The sum total of these, make UMNO ‘expensive’ and that makes PAS more appealing.

The danger of treating Nasharudin’s win as welcoming, is to relegate UMNO and PAS as good substitutes. In economics when we speak of good substitution, we mean two goods are of comparable value. We can argue the two are different, but as we have seen, if the price of UMNO goes up, people will buy PAS. We can argue that Ford pickup trucks are different from Nissan trucks, but if the price of Ford trucks goes up, I will buy a Nissan truck.

Therefore, Nasharudin’s win is not good for UMNO. His victory must be treated with more circumspect.


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