Change in Umno leadership demanded, says analyst

KUALA LUMPUR: A change in Umno’s leadership is being demanded since the party is still moving without a clear direction, about three years after Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi took over the presidency, analysts said.

National Professors Council chairman Professor Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin said Umno should not be treated as a pawn in a game of fulfilling the interests of certain personalities in the party.

He was referring to several Umno leaders who are currently facing corruption charges, known as the “court cluster” in the party.

After Barisan Nasional’s defeat during 2018’s 14th General Election (GE14), Shamsul said “Umno’s destruction” is nigh and warned that without a change in leadership, the party will lose whatever power and support it still has now.

According to Shamsul, many Umno grassroots are not confident with Zahid’s ability to steer the party out of its current mess. Party leaders, too, have voiced their opinion against Zahid.

Umno’s Khairy Jamaluddin, who is science, technology and innovation minister, also aadmitted he has issues with Zahid.

On Aug 6, Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and a group of Barisan Nasional MPs pledged their support for Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

This occurred three days after Zahid and a group of Umno supreme council members announced their withdrawal of support for Muhyiddin and PN.

Shamsul said: “Umno has no more central core – its supreme council is now powerless since most of them are not even the cabinet. Even Zahid has realised he does not have much power now.

“When Zahid went on garden leave in 2018 for his corruption charges, (Umno deputy president) Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan took over as acting president and that’s when Umno grassroots saw good leadership.

“After GE14, Umno was directionless and even after Zahid took over the presidency, he could not help the party find its direction again until today which is why a change in leadership is important for Umno’s survival,” Shamsul told the New Straits Times on Sunday.

Several Umno MPs are currently facing criminal charges and Zahid alone is facing a total of 47 charges.

However, Shamsul said the current crisis within Umno is probably what the party needs to rejuvenate. He said the situation could force its leaders and grassroots to work towards change.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya’s Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the best way to resolve Umno’s leadership crisis was for it to hold its party polls soons.

“Umno’s election should be expedited. DAP did its party polls during the pandemic recently. Of course, it will not be easy but it can be done,” he said. -NST ONLINE

 by ARFA YUNUS and HANA NAZ HARUN

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