Analyst: Candidate list bad for Umno’s future

Political analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi says too many old faces in Umno’s candidate list for its Supreme Council is unhealthy for the party.

GEORGE TOWN: A political analyst has described the list of candidates for the Umno polls as dismaying, saying it does not adequately reflect the party’s determination to reinvent itself.

Awang Azman Awang Pawi, an associate professor at Universiti Malaya, said many of the candidates going for Supreme Council seats were old timers and included those who lost in the recent general election.

“This is not good,” he told FMT. “It is not healthy. They should be replaced by younger candidates.”

He said the council, being the party’s think tank, needed a good proportion of young members because they were more likely to have fresh ideas for the party’s rejuvenation and to have followers among youths. This was important, he added, because young voters currently outnumbered the old.

He said younger candidates would usually have better academic qualifications, “but more importantly, they are seen as having more integrity, and are not entangled in scandals”.

“If they are already entangled, how are they going to be a symbol and example to grassroots members?”

According to news reports, 124 party members have submitted their nomination papers for the contest for Supreme Council seats in the June 30 polls. They include familiar faces like Shahidan Kassim, Razali Ibrahim, Idris Haron, Zambry Abdul Kadir, Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, Jamil Khir Baharom, Mohamad Khir Toyo, Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Reezal Naina Merican, Azalina Othman Said, Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, Puad Zarkashi, Hamim Samuri, Noh Omar and Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

Azman said the ideal situation would be to have youths making up 70% of the candidates.

“You need to give young people a chance,” he said. “They are the voices of the grassroots and the voices of youths. They will be good for Umno as it seeks to rebrand and reform itself.

“For far too long, the younger generation has not been given enough attention. They lack chances and are not given room to become leaders. This is because the culture in Umno is such that, when someone is seen as having potential, there is a high possibility he or she will be cut off very early on.”

With so many old faces contesting, he said, Umno might end up unchanged.

“These old timers may have experience, but their mindsets are old mindsets. It will be hard for them to reinvent themselves.”

He also said Umno needed to learn from PPBM and PKR, noting that both had an appreciable proportion of young candidates in last month’s polls.