PETALING JAYA: Grassroot Umno leaders have been urged to buck up and face the political reality of having to appeal to middle-class voters in urban seats, especially in Malay-dominant areas.
Umno vice-president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, speaking at the Shah Alam Umno assembly today, pointed to Umno’s loss of the parliamentary constituency in the state capital as an example of Umno’s current problem.
He said there must be something wrong in the party if it could not win in Shah Alam, an urban seat with significant Malay-majority.
Umno’s candidates had never won in urban seats with a Chinese-majority electorate, “maybe only in Johor Baru and Pulai”, he said. However, Shah Alam was in a Malay-belt area “but Umno still lost. That means there is something wrong somewhere within us”.
Khalid Samad, then of PAS, was re-elected by more than 10,000 votes in Shah Alam in 2013 for a second term. Khalid is now with Parti Amanah Negara.
Johor Baru has elected Umno candidates since 1974. Khalid’s outspoken brother, Shahrir Samad, the current MP, has served for seven terms since 1978, including one term as an independent, with Mohd Khaled Nordin holding the seat for three terms in between.
Zahid said party leaders should make themselves relevant to middle-class voters, Malaysiakini reported.
He acknowledged that politicians rarely admit their faults, but all leaders and members should shoulder the responsibility to correct the situation, rather than just pointing fingers at the ones in power.
“We see that this is the political reality which we must now face,” he was quoted as saying, and that Barisan Nasional must deal with similar issues in all urban seats.
Zahid had earlier come under an implied criticism from the division’s, Zahari Shaari, who had broached the controversial issue of foreign workers as an example of Umno’s perception problem. He said “flip-flop” policies created the impression of a “toothless government” which succumbed to pressure.
Zahari was also reported to have said that Shah Alam Umno would request that local candidates be fielded at the next general election in Shah Alam and the three state seats within the parliamentary constituency.