Umno needs to explain decision to cleanse party of ' traitors' ahead of state elections - pol analysts

28 Jan 2023 09:39pm
Former Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin (left) who was sacked from Umno and Sembrong MP Hishammuddin Hussein who was suspended for six years from Umno - FILE PIX
Former Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin (left) who was sacked from Umno and Sembrong MP Hishammuddin Hussein who was suspended for six years from Umno - FILE PIX
SHAH ALAM - While suspension and sacking is not new to Umno, it needs to communicate effectively with its grassroot leaders regarding its recent decisions ahead of state elections, says Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Political Sciences senior lecturer, Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian.

Reflecting on the party's long history of sacking firebrand leaders from Tengku Razaleigh to Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Siva said that the current crisis within the party needs to be handled properly so that it will not lead to a decline in support towards the party.

"The decline in support for Umno has been critical since the last general election, since the leaders who had been sacked and suspended from the party undeniably have their own supporters within the party itself the question is will they continue to put up a fight against the party?

"Without a doubt these current events will have an impact in the upcoming state elections as the sacked and suspended leaders will be capable of bringing about protest votes from inside Umno itself.

"What matters now that the decision had been made, Umno's communication with its branch, division and grassroots leaders needs to be effective, this is crucial prior to the state elections in order to avoid a huge void and gap between the top leadership and party members," he told Sinar Daily today

Dr Siva elaborated the effect from the sacking and suspension of the party's well known and well loved members might bring about dissent within the party that needed to be quelled before the next state elections.

"It matters now what actions those who are suspended and sacked wii take, some might probably appeal, or criticise from outside the party, or join any other party, or form their own party, or just take a rest for a while to let things cool down before coming back with a plan.

"That's why I said immediate action needs to be taken by the Umno top leadership to remove the tension so that the impact can be reduced or minimised." he said

Meanwhile, Head of Heritage and Sociocultural History Cluster of the National Professors Council (MPN), Prof Datuk Dr Zainal Kling found that the recent move by Umno's top leadership to purge the party has sealed the party's image as being undemocratic.
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"It more or less will probably weaken Umno from a voters point of view, yet to the party top leadership it solidifies their positions as they perceive anyone who threatens their position as 'traitors'.s

"What was done by these group of leaders that have been sacked or suspended was to voice their dissatisfaction towards what they saw as a flawed leadership. However this was seen as a betrayal instead and this is the flaw in the party's political culture," Zainal said.

Zainal added that if leaders cannot be criticised in Umno, this will lead to the party's further decline in the eyes of the younger generation who are not fond of such an undemocratic environment.

He said for the party to survive it needs to be more democratic, open, flexible and tolerant.

"If its members' opinions are only taken as a betrayal or something negative, many will not be happy about it

"Those who had been sacked or suspended will continuously criticise Umno, which will weaken the party.

"These people are bright young politicians, so they will receive offers from other parties such as Bersatu, so they will keep fighting in the political arena either in a different party or as an outsider," he elaborated.

Zainal added that removing these members was also a dangerous move on Umno's part as its former members will probably expose the negative inner workings of the party.

"If the upcoming state election is going to be contested by many young candidates, Umno needs to formulate a strong strategy to face its gloomy future, clean its name and fix its image," he added.

As for Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) Politics and International Relations lecturer, Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, he said while cleansing the party may not be a popular decision, he believed that it was a necessary action to strengthen Umno.

"Since there were always factions and leaders who openly questioned the leadership and the party itself, it was a necessary thing to to avoid dissent so near to the state elections.

Commenting on the members who were sacked and suspended, Azizuddin said that they may appeal, and if they are able to show loyalty to Umno and support for its leaders and direction, the elimination and suspension can be retracted.

" These things have happened before, its not a court case set in stone rather it is like a disagreement with siblings

"I think Umno's door is still open if they want to stick with the party and fight for the party. For the upcoming state elections, Negeri Sembilan may not have much trouble as there is a PH-BN coalition, whereas a northern state such as Kedah may see some consequences."

Azizuddin said that the sacked and suspended leaders do have their own followers but he felt that the recent move by Umno will not bring much impact to the state elections.

."These people are leaders who have followers. Although, I think the impact is going to be quite minimal to PH and BN, unless they joined PN ( Perikatan Nasional ) which definitely wants them join in to strengthen the party."