KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — Holding party elections for Umno to choose its leadership before the 15th general elections (GE15) could cause the political party to weaken and lose members to other political parties, former party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
Najib said those who lost in party polls could instead be poached by other political parties to act as candidates in GE15.
“There are pros and cons to us having (party) elections. One of the effects of elections is party pecahan (splitting) and those who lose will be stolen by others to be their candidates.
“So if there are other parties who want to weaken Umno, they will wait for Umno’s election so that splinters from those who lost will be invited or persuaded or offered to enter their party. So Umno will split up from that aspect, so we have to have an in-depth study,” he told reporters after speaking at the Malaysia Democracy Forum.
Najib added that it would not be fair to have elections for Umno’s leadership positions if contenders with positions in government do not give up such posts.
“And if we have a (party) election, if a contest is intended, we must contest on a level playing field. So if all in government quit their positions and contest, then only there will be a level playing field.
“Because when they are in government, they will make all sorts of offers, using government allocations and so on, so it’s not fair to those without positions. So if (you) want to contest, there must be a level playing field,” he said in a video clip carried by news outlet Malaysia Gazette on the latter’s Facebook page.
Najib was responding to a comment by Umno politician Khairy Jamaluddin today.
Earlier today, Khairy — who is also science, technology and innovation minister — had on social media called for Umno to hold its party elections this year to resolve the party’s internal issues and to expedite such internal elections, instead of holding it after GE15.
Khairy said this two days after Umno held its general assembly, where it was decided that the party would cut ties with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and where its party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said all Umno ministers in the current Perikatan Nasional (PN) Cabinet would step down from their positions if called to do so at any time.
Khairy was formerly an Umno Youth chief up until 2018. Khairy had in the 2018 Umno elections contested for the presidential post but had lost to Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Separately, Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said the tenure of Umno leaders was due to end this year, but said the issue of holding party elections should be left to the Umno supreme council to discuss on before any decision is made.
“But if we wish to expedite it, I think the best way is to have all ministers and deputy ministers in the Cabinet to step down from the Cabinet to ensure a level playing field, so that all can contest without any position.
“We are afraid that there will be people who play up issues or slander using government machinery, using positions for the election.
“So as Umno Youth chief, I think to avoid Umno from continuing to become a victim of tohmahan (accusations), I agree we expedite with the condition that all ministers and deputy ministers withdraw themselves from government, so that there is no accusation towards Umno that we use positions to contest in elections,” he told reporters after speaking at the Malaysia Democracy Forum. A video clip of his comments was posted by news outlet Malaysia Gazette.
GE15 must be held in 2023 at the latest, but can be held earlier.
State elections and general elections have however been suspended under the current Emergency that is scheduled to end on August 1 unless lifted earlier.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had previously pledged to hold general elections after the nationwide Emergency is lifted.`
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