PETALING JAYA: In the current political scenario where some Umno members have chosen to join the victorious Pakatan Harapan (PH), Sofia Ahmad has decided to stay and help rebuild the party.
Knowing that being in a position of power will help her play a better role in rebuilding Umno, she has decided to contest a post in the Puteri Umno executive council.
The 34-year-old wants to not only help rebuild her party but also speak up for working mothers.
“I feel it is important to fight for the rights of working mothers in the country. These are the real superwomen in the country.
“A happy household, whether a single or dual parent unit, is key to ensuring that children grow up in a stable environment and become functioning members of society,” she said.
The Puteri Umno Entrepreneur Icon 2016 said in an interview that the Puteri wing had always been the voice of Umno’s female youths and that she hoped to be a “voice of renewed vigour” for young women in the country.
Admitting it would be a challenge to rebuild Umno given that it must now function as an opposition party for the first time in six decades, she said: “It does not feel the same as before, but it will not be unfamiliar territory, because at the end of the day, the people’s concerns need to be addressed.
“We live in a different era now, and Umno needs to adapt to this new era. I truly believe I can bring this to the table by presenting different perspectives compared with previous Puteri wing leaderships.
“I joined the party four years ago, but I have been quiet all this while, being more of a political observer. I believe the time is ripe for me to take up the challenge to help make a difference.
“I believe that with my experience as an entrepreneur who managed to build a business from scratch, I can represent the voice of the people because I will be able to help those who are struggling to make a break in the entrepreneurial sector,” the KLCC Puteri Umno branch chief said.
Sofia won the Puteri Umno Entrepreneur Icon 2016 award for being able to successfully set up a network of 13 stockists, including in Brunei and Singapore, that sold her self-designed headscarves.
Asked why she chose Umno over PH component parties, she said: “I believe Umno represents more than just a party. Repressed as it is, to me personally, it represents an ideology for the betterment of Malays that has worked for decades, despite its weaknesses.
“Barisan Nasional (BN) has effectively represented Malaysians of all races and creeds for decades. PH, however, does not represent the same view I have for what the country needs.
“PKR and DAP are ‘family-held’ consortiums. Amanah does not have the strong conviction of a national party and PPBM is being held together by a thread by Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” she said.
She added that it had only been over a month since PH won the election, but there were already rumours of infighting within the coalition.
“The Cabinet ministers have yet to be decided and several of its 100-days promises have been ‘shelved’.”
The 100-days promises by PH that Sofia was likely referring to are the targeted petrol subsidies for cars and motorcycles, Employees Provident Fund contribution for housewives, raising the minimum wage, delaying the repayment period for National Higher Education Fund Corporation loans, and expanding the Selangor government’s Skim Peduli Sihat nationwide.
Sofia said she had never even thought about joining another party, adding that to do so would be akin to committing blasphemy as she came from a strong Umno-supporting family.
Her father-in-law Mohd Sarit Yusoh is a former two-term Semantan (Pahang) assemblyman (1990 to 1999) and a two-term Temerloh MP (1999 to 2004).
She said her parents and her parents-in-law had given her their blessings to seek a seat in the Puteri Umno exco.
“Although this is the first time that Umno has become an opposition party, it is by no means unprecedented elsewhere.
“The Liberal Democrat Party (LDP) in Japan was in power for 48 years continuously before it lost in 1993. But it managed to regain power and has since been led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“Some ‘rewiring’ needs to be done to Umno and BN, and both need to be reinvented in tandem. I admit that there are also some pockets of bickering in the Puteri wing, but it is time for us to take a deep look at ourselves and see what our strengths are that we can depend on during this testing time.
“Only this way, can BN be an effective opposition.”
Sofia added that the Puteri wing was in need of quality leaders.
“The Puteri wing desperately needs young leaders who can compete and debate on the same level as the likes of PPBM Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Rafizi Ramli, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Hannah Yeoh and more,” she said.