PETALING JAYA: Youths will turn away from Umno if it decides against allowing a contest for the top two posts, says a political analyst.
“Contests are important as they prove that Umno appreciates and practises democracy, even if only in its most rudimentary form of allowing elections for all its posts,” Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid told FMT.
He was commenting on former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin’s call for the posts of party president and deputy president to be contested in the upcoming party elections.
Yesterday, a group of Umno divisional leaders urged party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi not to allow any contests for the top two posts.
The leaders said the party needed to be strengthened in view of the coming elections in six states.
Ahmad Fauzi said Umno will be damaging itself if it does not allow Zahid and his deputy, Mohamad Hasan, to be challenged.
“(It will be) repelling potential support from the youth. Disallowing contests legitimises the efforts of incumbents from the older generation to hold on to power and positions for as long as possible.
“Umno’s prospects will be dim,” he said, adding the party was now occupying a “junior position” in government after experiencing a decline since 2008.
“It (Umno) lacks understanding of the reformist brand of politics that has gripped younger sections of the population for 20 years now, and who handed Umno defeats in the 2018 and 2022 general elections,” he said.
Council of Professors fellow Jeniri Amir said contests for the top posts are vital for Umno as its image and Zahid’s are tarnished because of his court cases.
“In fact, one of the reasons for Umno’s downfall is its leadership. To move forward, it needs to change the captain of the ship. It cannot be in denial.
“The results of the general election (GE15), in which Umno only won 26 seats, are an indictment of the public’s perception of Umno and its top leadership,” he told FMT.
He said if Umno does not allow the top posts to be contested, it will only be sending the signal that it is unable and unwilling to change to appease its current leadership.