Umno assembly to unite members, woo young voters, machinery, invoke past glory, say pundits

05 Jun 2023 04:47pm
From left: UiTM's Dr Abdul Aziz Azizam, UPM's Prof Dr Jayum Anak Jawan and IIUM's Associate Prof Dr Syaza Shukri
From left: UiTM's Dr Abdul Aziz Azizam, UPM's Prof Dr Jayum Anak Jawan and IIUM's Associate Prof Dr Syaza Shukri

SHAH ALAM - The upcoming 2023 Umno General Assembly presents a significant challenge for the party to restore values and confidence among the Malay community.

Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) political analyst Dr Abdul Aziz Azizam said the general assembly was significantly different from previous ones as the "soul" of the party has changed.

“Before the 1Malaysian Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal in 2015, the general assembly served as a platform to express aspirations of the Malay community and Malay unity.

"However, after that, the direction of the gathering became less clearer with more focus placed on the positions and stability of leaders rather than focusing on advancing the Malay agenda itself.

“Some argue that in order to champion the Malay agenda, the positions of leaders need to be strengthened during the general assembly while others believe that the Malay agenda should take precedence over the interests of any individual or party leaders,” he told Sinar Daily.

Umno secretary-general Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki had said the general assembly is scheduled to be held at the Kuala Lumpur World Trade Centre (WTCKL) from June 7 to June 10.

Aziz further said during past general assemblies, party president Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi had said to "No Bersatu, No Anwar, No DAP" which resonated within the members, however, the current direction of the party seems to have moved away from the slogan.

“What is happening now is quite different," he added.

Aziz said this shows the slogans chanted at the assembly no longer hold any real value.

"Instead, they are seen as empty rhetoric and superficial gestures aimed at pleasing coalition partners. This is seen as an attempt by Umno to portray itself as still being relevant and worthy of its position within the government” Aziz added.

Meanwhile, political analyst Datuk Prof Dr Jayum Anak Jawan from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) said the upcoming assembly will likely to focus on reinforcing the structure of the Malay party amid state elections.

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Jayum further said with state general elections anticipated in six states in Penang, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Negeri Sembilan, the assembly is expected to focus on strengthening the party machinery in preparation for state elections.

He further added that the gathering will focus on maintaining party unity among various branches, including Wanita, Pemuda, and Puteri.

Jayum said for the old grand party to make a potential comeback to the position of power it once held at both national and state levels, it is crucial to revive the sentiments of nostalgia during the state elections.

"By evoking past glory and reminding the electorate of the party's historical significance, Umno may strengthen its appeal and regain its previous standing in the political landscape," he said.

However, he said intense debate on how to go about rejuvenating Umno that had fallen since 2018 is also expected to be held,” he stressed.

Political analyst Associate Prof Dr Syaza Shukri from International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) agreed with Jayum's perspective. She said Umno may focus on the upcoming state elections, specifically drawing effective strategies and plans that would benefit both the party and the unity government.

The focus would be on maximising Umno's performance and ensuring in achieving goals of the coalition government.

“They will also be focus on how to mobilise the grassroot, especially the youth and first time voters. I also think the topic of supporting the other 18 parties in the unity government will come up too,” Syaza added.