Umno must change itself before it can govern again, says Youth delegate

Azril Annuar
A general view during the opening of the Woman, Youth and Puteri wings during the 2019 Umno General Assembly at the PWTC in Kuala Lumpur December 4, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — Umno must be willing to transform into a party worthy of the people’s support before it can set its eyes on Putrajaya again, said a Youth delegate at the youth wing’s annual assembly today.

Umno Youth Selangor deputy chief Amin Mohd Shukor said that the reality on the ground behind their historical defeat in the 14th general election (GE14) lies, not due to the strength of the opposition or their manifesto, but also in the weaknesses by the party itself.

In his opening address, the Youth Chief said, “We must go back to basics. The basis of Umno is that it is the people’s party. We must head back to that position. We speak today, before the 15th general election, on how we can retake the government.

“We haven’t even change, but we dream of becoming the government. We must self-reflect and look in the mirror. Many of our mistakes was not because our rivals were strong but because of the party’s weakness.

“We lost in GE14 partially due to the mistakes of our leaders. It wasn’t national issues. The folks in the kampung don’t care about it. But they take note of our leader’s lifestyle. They were disgusted by the leader’s lifestyle.

“After 61 years of being in power, we forgot (our basics) and there were leaders that didn’t bother going down to the ground to meet the people. We must accept reality, look into the mirror, we were defeated not because of our opponents but because of our own weaknesses,” said Amin.

He reminded the delegates that leaders come from every segment of society instead of the elitist approach found even during the party’s annual assemblies.

The Damansara Youth chief pointed out that Umno prefers those who are academically successful, but leaders come from all walks of life and by having such a preference, it has alienated the leaders from rural communities and those who are not as educated.

Amin observed that after its defeat last year, the ones who remained steadfastly loyal to Umno was not the party leaders or its top executives or even the ones placed upon a silver platter but instead the less educated and impoverished rural folks.

“I want to propose to the Umno Youth Malaysia, we have a diverse engagement approach. We must remember, votes are not exclusive to those with academic achievement — those with masters and so on — but there are those without a doctorate degree who remain loyal to us.

“When we faced a lot of trouble, don’t tell me we only give opportunity to those who have climbed the ivory towers? What about those in rural areas? Diversity means we care about those who are not as educated, to those who live in rural areas instead of just in urban areas.

“Voters from Damansara are different from those in Jerai. Those in Jerai are different from the ones in Sungai Buloh. Engaging the diverse demographics and psychographics is critical. If we fail to engage with them, these youths will not know us and their votes will be in the pocket of our opponents,” said Amin to a thunderous applause from the delegates,” he added.

At the same time, he also blasted party leaders who were foolish enough to air their grievances against each other on social and digital media.

He recalled the difficulty faced by the youth machinery during elections when it had to do double work and explain the situation to the voters who question them over the public airing of bad laundry.

Amin reiterated his statement that the negative perception on the party leaders had cost them the last election and if this does not stop, they will face a steep hill to overcome in the next general election.

“Umno members must be party-centric instead of leader-centric. We must love Umno more than our leaders. When you are so obsessed with our leaders — teams will be formed. And in the end, these teams will destroy the party.

“Who’s behind it? The leaders. They set the example,” said Amin.

He then proposed to establish a centre of excellence involving youths from all walks of life and from various communities to create new leaders of the party and the nation.

Amin said that leadership is not the right of the elite and the educated but the poor and those from the rural areas must also be granted their opportunity and right to be trained as leaders.

The centre can also train Umno members on how to handle the press, strengthen the party image and promote youth leaders while involving those from other races as well.

At the same time, Amin also proposed the creation of an e-directory for Umno’s entrepreneurs to make it easy for the business-minded in the party to network with one another.

He added that he has proposed the idea to Umno’s Economic Bureau. However, he came to the conclusion that the bureau ignored his recommendations as there was “no profit in it”.