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A bigger defeat is all it takes to bring some senses to Umno

  • There is little prospect for Umno to reform itself within the next five years, for the party has not been defeated badly enough. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

Sin Chew Daily

It might be a little too late, but Gerakan Rakyat has opted to pull out from BN, which is a good decision. And this shows that there are no signs Umno is going to change any time soon and there is no chance for Gerakan to stage a comeback if it chooses to stay in BN.

The party president will be the key to whether a reform is imminent within Umno. However, judging from the results of the divisional, Youth, Wanita and Puteri elections last weekend, acting president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi stands a very strong chance of elected the new party president.

From his recent remarks, it can be concluded that; Ahmad Zahid will unlikely initiate the change, and will continue to stick to his conservative approach.

The former DPM blamed Pakatan Harapan's focused attacks on one single individual and the adoption of a single logo in GE14 were the primary seasons for BN's defeat. He fell short of mentioning corruption, fund misappropriation by 1MDB or the RM2.6 billion found inside Najib's personal bank accounts. Putting all the blame on PH's electoral strategy shows that he has failed to see Umno's mistakes and weaknesses.

As for Khairy's proposal to open up Umno to non-Malays, Zahid reminded him that the party's founder Onn Jaafar had to leave the party because he lost the faith of party members for proposing to open up Umno to non-Malays in 1951.

That was 67 years ago, when nationalism was powerful in Malaya.

Umno leaders at all levels have failed to touch on how to rejuvenate the party but have instead opted to attack Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng over a Mandarin statement in a bid to fish votes in the run-up to party elections.

Consequently, I see no prospects for Umno to transform within the next five years, for the party has not been defeated badly enough, and its leaders are believed to continue to bask in their own comfort zones.

Ahmad Zahid insists that 46% of Malay voters will continue to vote for Umno, thus the party's superior position in the Malay community remains intact. He seems to hint that Umno has nothing to fear, with or without any change.

I personally believe Umno's support will continue to thin out due to the following:

1. The party's image will suffer a further blow following the widely anticipated prosecution of Najib, who is still a party member and Pekan divisional chairman, and the 1MDB scandal will have a major impact on the party.

Moreover, with more revelations made in the court, whether other Umno leaders have been lying will immediately become clear, especially over the RM2.6 billion political donations.

A worried Khairy feels that Umno should draw a clear line between itself and 1MDB, and that Najib should bear his own responsibility if proven guilty in court instead of bringing down Umno with him.

The thing is, will Najib take all the responsibility upon his shoulders?

2. For so many years Umno has been operating on money politics. With political resources now out of its access, how is the party going to maintain its links with the general public?

Umno used to thrive on the overwhelming support of Felda settlers who benefit from the party's generous monetary input. With the money now gone, such cohesion is poised to collapse.

Umno now rules only in two relatively resource-scarce states of Pahang and Perlis, and this is not enough to support its nationwide campaigns.

3. The party's bumi-sponsoring role will now be taken over by PH, and many will turn to support the new ruling coalition under the influences of Tun Mahathir.

Meanwhile, more and more Umno members will walk out from the party, including Bagan Serai MP Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali who is now an independent rep eyeing to join PPBM.

4. Umno will continue to be a racist party and will continue to fall out of favor among non-Malay, urban and young voters. This in turn will force the party to go more aggressive and conservative. It is a matter of time MCA and MIC will follow Gerakan's footsteps.

Ahmad Zahid plans to form a new political alliance to take the place of BN, but with old friends fleeing from it, I doubt the party can gain any new friend.

Although Umno remains the single largest political party in the Parliament, it will not stay this way for too long given its antiquated beliefs and value system. PH and PAS will gradually eat into its support base.

The party elections this time offers an excellent opportunity for party reforms. If they miss it, party leaders will very soon forget about the pain of election defeat and will fantasize the next victory in GE15.

Not even Khairy understand his party well enough. It looks like the party needs another thumping defeat to rid itself of the scourge of warlords and money politics.


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