Grassroots fear having party polls before GE15 will weaken Umno

Shakira Buang
·3-min read
Grassroots fear having party polls before GE15 will weaken Umno
Grassroots fear having party polls before GE15 will weaken Umno

There appear to be differences in opinion among Umno grassroots on whether the party election ought to be held before or after the 15th general election (GE15). This echoes the party’s upper echelons, who are also split on the issue.

When contacted, Federal Territories Umno Youth information chief Wan Agyl Wan Hassan (above) acknowledged the split. He shared that some members were concerned that holding the party election before GE15 would further fracture a divided Umno.

“Personally, I don’t reject those who call for party polls before the general election because some grassroots don’t have confidence in the existing leadership’s ability to face GE15.

“However, neither do I dismiss those who want the polls postponed until after GE15.

“For them, a leadership election will definitely hamper Umno in preparing our machinery for GE15. It could also bring about internal divisions especially for those who fail to defend their positions,” he said.

A fractured Umno would only benefit its electoral opponents, said Wan Agyl. He thus hoped the party’s supreme council would make the right decision.

“The Umno supreme council has been given a mandate by the grassroots and delegates to understand and determine the main issues causing internal turmoil within the party.

“They must also make decisions in the interest of the party, even if that means making hard and radical decisions.

“Most importantly, the supreme council must not be influenced by those with personal agendas when making decisions for Umno’s survival,” he elaborated.

Umno at risk

Meanwhile, Pasir Gudang Umno Youth chief Noor Azleen Ambros also acknowledged the dilemma.

Pasir Gudang Umno youth chief Noor Azleen Ambros
Pasir Gudang Umno youth chief Noor Azleen Ambros

Having party polls before GE15 will result in an untested leadership helming Umno into the next general election, he said.

“If this (party polls before GE15) happens, Umno will face several risks including the risk that many from the ‘minister cluster’ will lose their positions.

“Besides that, those who lose at different levels will be 'proposed to' or 'picked up' by Bersatu. This situation will eventually weaken Umno,” he added.

The “minister cluster” is said to refer to Umno leaders who are ministers in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) cabinet.

However, Azleen opined that holding party polls after GE15 also came with risks.

“The party polls can be held after the general election but the president (Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) must not be the prime minister candidate. I ask that the president be big-hearted to put the interests of the party above all else.

“Or else, if the president is Umno-BN’s prime minister candidate, we know we will lose even before contesting in the election.

“Umno needs to overcome this hurdle before it can design bigger strategies and tactics to face the election,” he said.

Umno must hold party polls once every three years. It is due for one this June.

Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan
Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan

Deputy president and party election committee chairperson Mohamad Hasan previously said party polls will proceed as scheduled only if GE15 is not called this year.

However, top Umno leaders such as Khairy Jamaluddin, Annuar Musa, and Reezal Merican Naina Merican - all PN ministers - have urged for party polls to be expedited as a way to resolve the internal chaos.

Umno is engaged in hostilities with PN and Bersatu despite having a stake in the PN administration.

Pekan Umno chief Najib Abdul Razak believes a pre-GE15 Umno election will split the party and cause defections to Bersatu.

Following an audio recording alleging Zahid as conspiring with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to undermine PN, some Umno leaders are now calling for the party president to resign.