Umno will be rejected again if it doesn't reform, says analyst
SHAH ALAM - Umno needs to allow all top posts, including the president and vice president positions, to be contested if they want to see prolific democratic practise in the largest Malay party.
Political analyst Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Wan Hashim Wan Teh stated that during his tenure as an Umno member since 1975, he has never witnessed a planned effort such as what current leaders have done to prevent the president and deputy positions from being contested.
According to the former Umno Gerik youth leader, competition for all positions is important because it has become a symbol of Umno's identity and promotes democratic practices.
"One of Umno's highest position competitions that I recall is the battle for the vice presidency between Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman and former Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.
"Even though Tun Dr Ismail sulked for a moment after losing the contest for the post of deputy president, he returned to Umno and joined the government.
He was appointed as the Domestic Affairs Minister after being persuaded to help Tun Abdul Razak deal with the problem of racial riots during the May 13, 1969 incident.
"One more event I can't forget is a 'suicidal' and surprising move by the former Umno information chief, Sulaiman Ahmad, or better known as 'Sulaiman Palestine' who challenged the prime minister, Tun Hussein Onn, to contest for the Umno president seat in the party election in 1978," he said when contacted by Sinar Premium.
He said this following Umno President Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's statement, which described the fight for the position of Umno vice president as a healthy practice.
However Zahid expressed a differing view in regards to the contest for the president and deputy president seats.
The most epic competition, according to Wan Hashim, occurred in 1987, when Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah challenged for the presidency, which was then held by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and Tun Ghafar Baba was competing against Tun Musa Hitam for the position of deputy president.
Commenting further, Wan Hashim stressed that the competition for all positions in the party, from the branch committee member level to the presidential level, should not be blocked because it is not Umno's tradition.
It also gives a choice to more than 160,000 members to determine who is most qualified to lead the 76-year-old party.
"All posts should be contested in Umno to be able to restore the confidence of members and voters of Umno after losing badly in the 15th General Election (GE15).
"If Umno continues to insist on refusing to allow competition for top posts, it is not impossible that they will be rejected again by voters," he added.
He also hopes that Umno will allow new and young members to lead the party.