KOTA KINABALU: Umno should grant autonomy to all its state chapters, and not just Sabah, if the party is serious to spring back from its doldrums, says an analyst.
Rahezzal Shah Abd Karim of UiTM Sabah said other state Umno chapters might seek a similar arrangement following party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s support for greater autonomy for Sabah Umno.
And this, he told FMT, will be Zahid’s biggest challenge.
“I think it leaves Zahid with no options but to reform Umno,” said Rahezzal.
He admitted that any move to give more freedom to the state Umno leadership to chart their course could undermine the president’s power.
“But it could also send a signal to party members and voters that Umno is serious about reforms.
“At the end of the day there is no point being in control of your party if the masses reject Umno,” he said.
“Yes, perhaps Zahid will lose some but the party will gain more overall. Perhaps it could strengthen the states.”
Rahezzal said Sabah Umno could start the empowerment process by appointing its own liaison chairman.
“By giving the state Umno the freedom to elect their own chief, it can at least dispel the notion that state Umno leaders are subservient to the central leadership,” he said.
Rahezzal said other political parties too should take steps to empower their state-level leadership.