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Change, or be wiped out completely

  • The key to such a change will very much lie with the party elections later this month.

Sin Chew Daily

Following the thumping defeat of Umno in the general elections, the upcoming party elections will see the largest number of contestants due to the lifting of restrictions, with 612 vying for party posts, and seven for the presidency alone.

By comparison, Umno Youth chairman Khairy Jamaluddin makes a better Umno president than acting chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi or party veteran Tengku Razaliegh Hamzah. And this is not just about his age, but also the way he thinks.

Ahmad Zahid is too close to Najib, and was the person carrying out many of Najib's plans, albeit the bad ones. He even endorsed RUU355 amendment prior to GE14, describing PAS as a new friend of Umno.

After the 14th general elections, he failed to settle many of the party's problems such as the exit of BN component parties and the Perlis MB farce. If he were to take over the baton, he would likely take the easy way out by forming an official tie-up with PAS, and this is going to expedite the party's demise.

Ku Li, meanwhile, is a very senior leader who nevertheless lacks good leadership and powerful resolution. His Semangat 46 formed after the 1987 party infighting did not last too long beyond the general elections.

He recently said Umno should not open itself to non-Malays and should not fire Najib. This shows he is somewhat detached from the political reality.

After GE14, Khairy confessed he was remorseful for not speaking the truth in order to defend Najib. He also called for an Umno open to all Malaysians irrespective of race. He was also against the no-contest rule for the top two party posts.

Umno's electoral defeat could be largely attributed to the utter disappointment of the voters, who believed the party would never change.

Now that Umno is an opposition party, it will have to change itself or experience continued decline or even vanish into history.

Whether the party will transform itself and change will decide the prospect of Barisan Nasional.

The four BN component parties in Sarawak have quit the coalition to form a new local political alliance GPS, with only five out of the original 13 component parties still remaining in the coalition today.

Racist politics is a venom, and parties like Umno and MCA must transform themselves into multiracial parties. MCA should merge with Gerakan Rakyat to pool their resources together and restructure themselves in order to play a more active role as opposition parties.

In the meantime, Umno should not rush into attacking the new PH government but should instead prioritize its reform agenda. How is it going to monitor the new government if it refuses to change?

Another thing Umno must do is to sever itself from Najib and the party's unglamorous past. The party must show remorse and apologize for the iniquities by the Najib administration so that it can start all over again.

The key to such a change will lie with the party elections later this month. Umno is still very much in the grips of the conservative rightists and it is not easy for Khairy to convince these people. Even if Khairy eventually wins, he still needs to put in a lot of effort to tune back an antiquated party machine.

While Umno is struggling to rebuild itself, the PH government must promptly clean up the mess left behind by the previous BN administration so as to put the country back on the right track again as soon as possible.

Thanks to the reminders from the public as well as his own colleagues, PM Mahathir has managed to rectify the mistakes he almost made, such as giving up the education ministerial portfolio, abolishing the Anti-Fake News Act and letting the private sector implement the new national car project.

It is good for the PH component parties to criticize the government so that it will not commit the same mistakes BN once did.

PH must set itself apart from BN so that it can continue to run this country for many more years to come. It must wipe out corruption and racism, implement liberal policies and stimulate the national economy to retain the support of voters and to fend off any imminent threat from a revived Umno.


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