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No one can save Umno!

  • Umno's elected reps and support base will eventually drift towards PH. Wresting back Putrajaya in GE15? Fat hope! Photo courtesy: Bernama

Sin Chew Daily

Umno grassroots have wrongly elected Ahmad Zahid as their new chief because he has all this while been a good follower but lacks what it takes to be a leader.

He does not have macroscopic views and big ambitions, and is no match for Mahathir or Anwar.

When he was Umno Youth chairman in the 1990s, he was a supporter of Anwar. He criticized Mahathir's cronyism, and was once detained under ISA after Anwar was sacked.

After Mahathir stepped down from office, he followed Abdullah and Najib, and made steady progress in the party by means of rightist gestures.

He went to see Mahathir after the 14th general elections, and it was said that he was seeking advice on managing Umno. He even allowed Najib to forward his question on the KL-Singapore high speed rail project at Dewan Rakyat, as if he had no idea how to be lead the country's largest opposition party.

Four months after GE14, he has yet to come up with a plan to reform Umno but has instead opted to walk down Najib's old path of collaborating with PAS, albeit openly this time.

Meanwhile, he still hopes to tie up with PPBM and PKR in hope of securing a short-cut approach to Putrajaya. His appearance at PAS general assembly sparked protest among the party's moderates, and hence a new wave of exodus from party.

Former international trade and industry minister Mustapa Mohamed has been working very hard for the past two decades to fight PAS in Kelantan, but his party now decides to forge a closer relationship with the Islamist party.

Hailing from the state of Sabah, former foreign minister Anifah Aman has also found himself unable to betray his people who are strongly against PAS.

Prior to this, there were already three Umno MPs quitting the party, namely Bagan Serai MP Noor Azmi Ghazali, Bukit Gantang MP Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz and Masjid Tanah MP Mas Ermieyati.

Former Puteri Umno chief Mas Ermieyati left Umno after the party elections, claiming that she was utterly disappointed with the party for lack of willpower to change.

As a matter of fact, the seed of Umno's crisis was sowed long ago during Mahathir's time, when a leader was found bribing the grassroots to get elected as divisional chief. It became worse during Najib's time, when cash was openly distributed. It is money politics that eats into the party's fighting spirit.

The poor showing in GE13 prompted Najib to tilt towards the right, expediting the departure of more liberal leaders within the party, including former deputy higher education minister Saifuddin Abdullah who left Umno in 2015 over 1MDB and RM2.6 billion donation scandals and joined PKR. Saifuddin was appointed foreign minister after winning the Indera Mahkota parliamentary seat in the May 9 elections.

Umno should have moved back to centrism after losing the elections, but unfortunately Ahmad Zahid does not seem to see this, While Najib made use of Jamal Yunus to create havoc, Zahid is now making use of supreme council member Lokman Adam to stage street protests. Lokman has earlier suggested to transform BN into a Malay-centric coalition that should include also PAS.

Ahmad Zahid has alleged that Mustapa and Anifah left the party out of their own agendas without reflecting on himself what he has done to revive the party.

He says Umno members must be sincere, and must have noble fighting spirit. The thing is: does Umno still have any fighting spirit at all?

Secretary-general Annuar Musa has predicted that PH can only rule for two and a half years at most, but has failed to foresee the crisis right within his own party.

Judging from the current developments, Umno's elected reps and support base will eventually drift towards PH. Wresting back Putrajaya in GE15? Fat hope!

Thanks to a whole string of negativities, including 25 new charges slapped on Najib, Umno's decline is almost an irreversible fact now. Umno reps and members will abandon their party even if PH does nothing to sabotage it.

Following the crisis encountered by Umno, opposition parties have no choice but to institute painful reforms and restructuring leading to a brand new opposition alliance to compete with PH.

A weak opposition may not be a good thing for PH. If the ruling coalition is relieved of the sense of crisis, it may slow down its reform process, and may even kickstart the dangerous power game.



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