Business as usual likely in Umno polls

Zainal Epi
Umno is now even more the lynchpin of BN, after most remaining components failed to deliver in GE14. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PETALING JAYA, May 21 — No contest is expected for Umno’s top two posts as the party seeks to stabilise and unite Barisan Nasional (BN) following the 14th general election defeat.

Party grassroots appear to accept that this may be necessary to minimise the infighting that normally accompanies such contest, and the need for unity as this crucial juncture.

However, they feel that there should be contests for all positions below that, from the vice presidencies to the entire supreme council, in order for them to choose the team that will help the president and his deputy rebuild.

Umno is now even more the lynchpin of BN, after most remaining components failed to deliver in GE14.

While Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) stood strong in Sarawak, non-Umno components in the peninsula were hammered by the voter backlash on May 9.

Umno is now attempting to soldier through the dissent and discontent to prepare for the next general election.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin seems tipped for the presidency, but his elevation would go against the seniority of both acting president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and sole remaining VP, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

While his selection would appease public sentiment, some members are calling for “sanity to prevail”, essentially an appeal for the status quo.

“The grassroots who are mostly more than 40 years old and above seem to think that there is no point in changing the whole leadership line-up without knowing which direction we are heading.

“They think it is best to allow Zahid and Hishammuddin to steer the ship for the next three years with help from the young and new leaders in the supreme council.

“In short, they want contest or new line up in the leadership positions for vice-presidents and supreme councils as these are the positions that guide the leadership to new ideas and approaches.

“Of course, one of the vice-presidents will be Khairy from what I gather from them.

“They feel three years is sufficient to see any positive development and if there are none, then they can be changed in the next party election which is still before the next general election,” said veteran Umno member Datuk Suhaimi Abdul Rahman who is closed to the grassroots and also the present top leaders.

Suhaimi said that by end of Ramadan, Umno grassroots would have forgotten their anger and things would return to normal once the time divisions hold their annual meetings where nominations and voting would begin after June.

While Umno seems to be moving towards a recovery, other component parties still appear directionless.

MCA continues to point fingers but has yet to convene a meeting to take stock of party and draw up plans for its next move and Gerakan is “nursing its injuries”.

Observers say both the parties should merge as their separate existence was now irrelevant, particularly with the Chinese community firmly behind DAP in the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

Many Umno grassroots would love to scapegoat MCA and Gerakan for failing to deliver the Chinese votes, but are choosing to put Umno’s house in order first, before “firing at other targets”, said Suhaimi.

“Even now we are taking stock of our own members — how many of the three million are still with us because we cannot deny that there are a lot of Umno members who quietly ran over to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he jumped into the battlefield with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi).

“We have to accept the fact this is politics even if the top party leadership may deny such things happened,” he said with a big laugh.