COMMENTARY, Nov 13 — Umno seems to have lost its shine in Kedah as PAS gains ground tremendously which may cost the oldest Malay party to lose 13 of the 15 parliamentary seats being contested in the 15th general election unless it has an injection of a new booster.
The party which is the backbone of Barisan Nasional (BN) is struggling to bring back its old shine but it seems the Malay who make up the majority in the state have made up their minds to stick to the present PAS rule.
Even in the parliamentary seat of Langkawi, incumbent MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad may retain his seat contrary to several analysts who predict that the former Prime Minister may be defeated.
Kedah has been a PAS bastion all the while where its support is not enough to make up the numbers to win the state but this time with a little help from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), PAS has the numbers to stay on top of Umno.
The battle of Malay supremacy in the Malay heartland of Kedah reflects badly on Umno which now seems to be leaderless and lacks direction as the party undergoing a leadership crisis and lack of speakers to rebut attacks by not just PAS but other Malay parties such as Bersatu, Pejuang and several others.
From the very start, Umno went into the political war handicapped – the party has weakened with former president Datuk Seri Najib Razak in jail and with the sitting president Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi making a sudden change of guards without discussing with the party leadership.
This is also the case in Kedah when the state liaison chief was changed from Datuk Seri Mahathir Khalid to Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, the latter who is not influential in the state Umno and Kedahans.
Kedah Umno has no leader who can rally the party members and members of the public at present which puts them in a vulnerable position.
There is no leader going around the state to rally and inject the fighting spirit while other parties have their leaders rally support such as Dr Mahathir who even made a walk-about in Jerlun where his son Datuk Seri Mukhrizniw contesting, PAS has got its Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor speaking daily in various constituencies while PKR has Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim making his rounds.
Umno has lost its spirit thus losing ground and is struggling to again position itself on the state political map in the absence of Najib who played at an important role in Melaka and Johor state elections.
Kedah if Umno is to lose the state which looks likely has only itself to blame as several contenders said.