KUALA LUMPUR: Party veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said it is time for Umno and its partners to clean up their acts and adopt new strategies to remain relevant to the Malaysian public.
Among other things, he said Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) must uphold constitutional democracy and the separation of powers as a fundamental principle.
“Umno must take note of what happened to the LDP of Japan and Congress Party of India, lest it suffers the same fate as these two giants of Asian politics,” he said at the launch of the book, “The End of Umno? Essays on Malaysia’s Dominant Party” at a private club here.
Both LDP and Congress were ousted at one time but regained the mandate to rule due to a fragmented Opposition.
The former finance minister said Umno must follow parameters acceptable for the practice of democracy.
“Most importantly, its struggle must be seen as being above board and within the law.
“It must not be accused of resorting to or justifying the practice of dirty, underhand politics.”
Razaleigh said Umno members must be wary of their political leaders and drew attention to the saying about “a fish rotting from the head”.
“This quite often signals the start of nepotism and cronyism. This ultimately develops into corruption,” he said, adding that this culture would then be copied by society.
Razaleigh, popularly known as Ku Li, said the party’s future depended on the members who must regulate and discipline their leaders.
He said the time was now opportune for members to put their collective foot down and tell party leaders to pull themselves up by their bootstraps “and move the country in the manner envisaged by the founding fathers”.
Razaleigh said Umno had been perceived as a party that had let down the rakyat and did not work in the interest of the nation.
“Now it has been alleged that Umno protects the interests of its leaders.”
He said the situation was worsened by a judiciary that was seen to be emasculated by the executive and a Parliament that did not quite function in a constitutional democracy.
Later, to a question from the floor, he said the BN would fight tooth and nail in the coming general election to remain in power.
“I doubt the Opposition can unseat them. There is only a possibility of a hung Parliament,” he said, adding that the power of incumbency and government machiney worked for the BN.