7:03pm 16/01/2023
Bleak future for Umno’s democracy
By:Sin Chew Daily

Gone were the days when Umno was the overwhelming political force in this country.

Umno’s electoral defeat has been extended further in the 15th general election, with the number of seats won almost halved from 54 to only 26.

In 2013, when Umno won 88 seats, the voters already issued a warning to the party that it was the last chance for BN to do something or risk getting marginalized eventually.

But in the following five years, the most abhorred corruption issue continued to spread within the BN administration, including the 1MDB scandal, causing the coalition to fall from grace sooner than expected.

Unfortunately, the top leaders of Umno appear to have not learned a lesson until this day.

Ahmad Zahid was the one almost single-handedly controlled the election time, Umno’s choice of candidates and BN’s election strategy and manifesto for GE15.

He fielded his loyalists and took out the dissidents, including several ministers close to then PM Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The discord within the party’s leadership further weakened it on the eve of the election.

The landslide victories in Melaka and Johor had infinitely boosted Ahmad Zahid’s confidence, so much so that he believed he could handle the general election rather effortlessly, without realizing the growth of its biggest rivals, PH and PN.

By right Ahmad Zahid must be held responsible for Umno’s humiliating defeat in the election and should have resigned as party president.

He did not, but was instead more concerned about how to consolidate his position in Anwar’s unity government. In order to put up a strong government, there was no reason for Anwar to reject him!

Thanks to the president’s selfishness, Umno is destined to fall even lower in the foreseeable future in the absence of true reform.

While a new successor may not even be better, at least this can manifest the party’s determination to institute democratic reform.

Last Saturday, the Umno central delegates ignored the call of former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin and voted with a show of hands to support the motion of not opening up the top two party posts to election with the excuse that the party must stay united in order to focus on the upcoming six state elections and restore Umno to its former glory.

Outsiders like us have no way of criticizing Umno for not opening the top two party posts for contest. But when Ahmad Zahid still managed to get the support of majority of party delegates for not having to take responsibility for the party’s lackluster performance in the general election, it only shows one thing, that Umno’s double standard on party democracy has rendered its reform agenda a completely hopeless dream.

With the president having all the powers in his hands, the show of hands in support of him was only a distortion of dictatorship in the guise of democracy.

Umno is not a party that knows how to reflect on its own failures. When Ahmad Zahid was addressing the Umno assembly on the stage last week, he failed to conduct deep postmortem on the party’s thumping electoral defeat.

Even if he desired to stay in power, at least he must seriously deliberate the reasons for the defeat, and then fine tune the party’s strategy in order to rise from the ashes again.

No, he never did that. In its stead, he said he couldn’t forget about the ten BN MPs signing statutory declarations in support of Muhyiddin as PM, and vowed to take actions against these “traitors.”

He said while he could forgive these people, he couldn’t forget it. What kind of logic is that? What a crude art of talking!

Prior to this, he hinted that four of the ten “traitors” were from Johor, and that not all were from Umno.

Hishammuddin admitted that he did sign the SD, but had subsequently withdrawn it, and he shouldn’t therefore be labeled as a traitor, arguing that calling other people traitors would only enrage party members who did not support the president, who should have kept his feelings to himself and not make them public.

Did Ahmad Zahid ever think who had caused Umno’s downfall? If Umno had won more than 26 seats, would he be so humble to beg for government posts for his party and willingly play second fiddle to PH in the government?

From the country’s biggest party before the 2018 election, Umno is today only the fifth largest, behind PAS (43 seats), DAP (40), PKR and Bersatu (31 each). Who should be held responsible for all this?

Even up till this day Umno is still basking in its past glory without realizing that only 16.29% of the party’s die-hard fans from the last election are still with the party today.

Be it the upcoming six state elections or the next general election five years later, one thing for sure is that no single party or coalition can rule alone without having to forge new alliances with others.

Umno is in no position to dominate in any negotiation in forging an alliance. It has been reduced to a party that other parties will try to win over to their sides.

Gone were the days when Umno was the overwhelming political force in this country. If the party fails to implement reforms and continues with its self exhaustion, the road to its ultimate recovery is nowhere in sight!


Ahmad Zahid


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