KUALA LUMPUR: A political analyst has predicted that Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s election as Umno president may make the party more combative, less committed to reforms and lose many members.
Wong Chin Huat, a fellow at the Penang Institute, said he expected Zahid to rally members towards an effort to oust the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government and to largely ignore the call for fundamental changes in the party’s political practice.
Members with a different cast of mind would defect, he added.
“Because it hopes to bring down the PH government soonest,” he said, “Umno will see PAS as a natural partner and they may team up to jointly attack PH over Islam and Malay rights.”
He said Umno would make it unacceptable for non-Malays and anyone from Sabah or Sarawak to helm the government.
He also said Zahid’s victory could prove to be a gift for PH because the subsequent exodus from Umno would indeed make it a sinking ship.
Yesterday, former Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin, who was one of the contenders for the party presidency, alleged that warlords had used threats against delegates who voted in the election to ensure support for their choices.
In a message on Twitter, he said the popular vote in the polls showed that most members wanted change but the electoral college system favoured the warlords.
“Many were ordered, threatened, and forced to support the choices of the warlords,” he said.
He claimed that the tally showed there was big support for him. He said he received 32,592 votes from the delegates against Zahid’s 39,197.
Khairy won in 61 divisions against Zahid’s 99 divisions. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, another candidate, won in 30 divisions with more than 20,000 votes.