As Umno heads into its first election as an Opposition party, the party’s presidential candidates today outlined their plans for the next three years. Umno presidential candidate, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, who is also acting president after the resignation of Najib Razak as President, said he wants to move Umno forward in what he dubbed, a “New Deal” for party members while maintaining the party’s status quo.
“We want to rejuvenate Umno into Umno 3.0, but at the same time, rebrand Barisan Nasional (BN) into a new coalition. “The party needs to return to its foundation and strengthen its spirit in fighting for Malay special rights, the royal institution, Bahasa Melayu and religion,” he said during a “live” debate between the Umno presidential candidates hosted by Astro Awani. As for Umno veteran leader Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, he outlined the need for the party to change within three years should he be appointed party president. “For the past 20 years, Umno’s top leadership has been controlled by a select few until those underneath cannot voice their opinion. “We want the voice of the people down below to influence the voice of the people sitting on top,” he said.
In contrast to the other two candidates, Khairy Jamaluddin apologised and admitted the mistakes of the party’s leadership for their GE14 defeat. “We must make do with the insulated president culture and immediate action must be taken to attract new young talents to Umno so that we can prepare ourselves for a generation shift in the party,” he said. Khairy Jamaluddin does not discount the possibility that he would invite other parties to join Barisan Nasional or form collaborations with civil society organisations to rebuild the party if he wins in the Umno elections tomorrow. He said this was one of the ways to restructure BN following its disastrous showing at the 14th general election recently. “If I win, I will sit down with MIC and MCA, because these are the only parties we have, to come up with a new formula for BN. “The BN (component) parties are waiting for the results tomorrow to see who will become Umno president before they make a decision,” he said after attending a gathering in Alor Star today.
Following BN’s loss in GE14, its component parties, including those in Sabah and Sarawak, left the coalition, with the latest being Gerakan, which announced it was leaving last Saturday.