Academic: Umno believes reform possible even with old faces

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (third from right) with deputy president Mohamad Hasan and other party leaders after the Umno elections on Sunday. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Although Umno’s top leadership line-up may appear to comprise “the same old faces” following its party elections, an academic says its members’ view of reforms may differ from those held by the general public.

Awang Azman Awang Pawi.

Speaking to FMT, Awang Azman Awang Pawi from Universiti Malaya said Umno members believed their newly elected leaders would be able to bring about reforms.

“This is a reflection of a tradition among Malays that they are willing to forgive and forget, and they believe that these leaders, if given a chance, will be able to bring reforms.

“Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s successful bid for the party’s presidency showed that the grassroots trusted him to ensure that the party would continue to champion the interests of the Malays in the country.”

Awang Azman said Umno had always emphasised loyalty to its leaders, giving the example of Zahid whom he said was loyal to the previous party president.

“But after what happened on May 9, they have to start paying attention to the reality portrayed by the general election results.

“They need to start accepting that if they ignore these results, it will bring the party nowhere.”

Former Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin, who failed in his bid for the party’s presidency, had claimed that warlords used threats against delegates who voted in the election to ensure support for their preferred candidates.

In a Twitter message, he said the popular vote showed that most members wanted change, but the electoral system favoured the warlords.

Awang Azman acknowledged that many had seen Khairy as a more progressive candidate who would be able to bring about reforms in the party. However, he added that he did not quite agree with them.

“Don’t forget that it was Umno Youth that moved the motion calling for a non-contest for the top two posts in the last Umno general assembly. How is that being progressive?”

He said Khairy would not likely leave the party as he still believed he could bring about change in Umno.

“Just that he will need some time to get used to his situation now,” he added.

Khairy won in 61 divisions compared to Zahid’s 99 divisions. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah won in 30 divisions with over 20,000 votes.