COMMENT: Umno’s split decision to postpone party polls until the next general election (which must be held by mid-2018) is telling indeed.
Yes, the party constitution allows it. And yes, two previous party presidents and prime ministers did the same. But that still does not make it right or proper for a party that practises democracy.
Thirty-one of the 190 divisions certainly think the party polls, to elect the youth, wanita, puteri and central committee officials, including vice-presidents, deputy president and president, should go on. Therein lies Umno’s dilemma.
As a democratic party, as affirmed by party chief Najib Razak when he announced the decision on Friday night, Umno should embrace dissent and healthy opposition. A party of yes-men and women will lead to ruin.
If one is confident of one’s policies, direction, conduct and leadership, there is no reason members or delegates will not give their support. Thus, regular party elections are one way for competent, responsible and accountable leaders to seek a new mandate.
If you’ve done a good job and the process is clean and proper, you win. But if you have failed in your job or is just plain incompetent, good luck.
But politicians being politicians, they will use all the tricks up their sleeves and in the book to prolong their hold on power.
A popular tactic is to engineer compromises, for instance proposing no-contests for top posts, to maintain one’s position in the party (and by extension in the government). What is a leader without grassroots support and a mandate to rule?
So, it appears the current crop of party leaders has been given an extension of their contract. A reprieve from having to face members’ judgment until after GE14. But you can never tell. After all, it’s Umno. Even if you did your best for party, King and country, you may still be asked to step down before your tenure ends. It’s happened before, most recently after the 2008 general election.
The decision gives the impression that party leaders have their backs to the wall and are on fractured ground. What are ordinary members to think when their leaders dare not seek a new mandate from members? It gives credence to rumours that dissident senior party officials will soon be chopped to consolidate power at the very top.
Those who have been agitating for change, with an eye on scheduled polls next year, have been outflanked, the rug pulled from under their feet. Between now and the next general election, they are expected to toe the line, rally behind the leadership or be cut off. Chiefs of the 31 divisions which did not agree to put off the party polls are on the chopping block. Their patrons will be similarly watched.
Interestingly, Umno Number Two Muhyiddin Yassin had this to say last November, when opening the joint assembly of the party’s youth, wanita and puteri wings:
“If Umno wants to be the party of the future, Umno’s image should match the souls of the young Malays, Malay professionals and the entire young generation in urban and rural areas.
“They are the future of our party.”
He also proposed to Umno to consider party polls be carried out as stated in the party’s constitution, and not postponed until after the next general election.
“I believe Umno will not break if election is called. Umno leaders must be matured enough to face it. I will personally stand by our president (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) to ensure the changes and rejuvenation of our party will materialise,” the Daily Express reported him as saying.
One can’t help but wonder what Muhyiddin has to say now that the polls is postponed. Did he support the decision? – The Ant Daily