'Fresh' formula for UmnoDIANA AZIS FARAH SHAZWANI ALI
SHAH ALAM - The new Umno lineup comprising Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki and Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said as Umno secretary-general and information chief respectively is a fresh formula to make the Malay party popular again.
Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) Politics and International Relations senior lecturer Professor Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said the duo were liked by the community and held good records.
He said he was of the view that both of the leaders could play a significant role in bringing back Umno's "voice" and acting as an intermediary between the party and the people.
"Asyraf is popular among the youths while Azalina is popular among all races. Both of them could play a unique role and whatever they spoke about would be heard and people would pay attention to it.
"I see that Asyraf's experience leading the Umno Youth would help him in this new role. It would be a shame for such a capable leader like him not to be included in the leadership.
"Azalina is loved by all races and able to attract attention of many especially when she speaks about Umno issues. She has experience as a spokesperson although it was in her field and portfolio, but now it is for Umno," he told Sinar Harian, yesterday.
Azizuddin praised Umno's brave move to place a youth as the party's secretary general.
He also said Asyraf was seen as capable of performing his role to replace Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan.
"Umno is still popular among the Malays, just that some internal arguments made them seem like they were disunited.
"However, after the general election now comes their preparations to face the state elections," he said.
Meanwhile, the appointment of several new faces as state Umno chairmen was described as not strong enough to lead the party in facing the upcoming state elections.
Universiti Malaya (UM) Political Science, Public Administration and Development Studies Department senior lecturer Dr Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub viewed the current strategy by Umno as weak especially when dealing with aggressive parties like Perikatan Nasional (PN) in several states.
"Some state chairman appointments lacked the strength to play an outstanding role as a war chief to face the state elections primarily in Kedah and Negeri Sembilan," he said when contacted.
Tawfik said the appointment of certain "favourites" from the party leaders could potentially invite conflict among leaders at the state level.
"Let alone him (referring to former Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid) who was previously seen close to Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob's camp that was strong and dominant.
"However, after the election, he placed himself in the president's camp," he said.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Razak Prime Central Faculty political analyst Dr Mazlan Ali said Umno no longer had a choice following the sudden changes in the party.
He said Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's decision to place certain individuals to lead a state was based on their previous track record.
"There are leaders who were suspended, sacked and such. Surely it would not remain the same as before, thus Umno must work harder to win the states in the upcoming state elections.
"The president wanted to place those who he believed in to lead the states, become (his) eyes and ears and those whom were chosen would be competent enough," he said.