Dismissing, suspending leaders just adds to Umno’s woes, say grassroots

Mohd Farhan Darwis

An Umno branch leader who declined to be identified says that lower-level members are fed up with the party’s endless internal crisis. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, January 30, 2023.

UMNO has only added more problems for itself with the sacking and suspension of a handful of party members and leaders, grassroots leaders said.

The party they said was not addressing its demons but merely getting rid of those who held a different view from its leadership.

They felt with the purge in the party, it was unlikely to do well in the coming six state elections even if they had struck a deal with Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Seputeh Umno Youth Leader Wan Agyl Wan Hassan, 40, said the party leadership failed to realise the main problem the party was facing was the issue of integrity.

“The problem with the party is a problem of integrity, the leadership in the party is no longer of quality and the party does not have a clear vision and direction.

“Umno has not changed with the times but still practices politics like it did in the 80s and 90s,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

The Federal Territories Umno Youth information chief said Umno leadership failed to realise the people have shown clear signals in two general elections that they reject the party.

“Finally, we cannot face the people when we fail to change according to the flow and needs of the times,” he added.

The disciplinary action against party leaders showed that Umno took the easy way out to manage their internal problems, he said.

“It created more crises than resolving the problems. The party never tried to solve the main issue which has gotten worse. So, they then take the easy way out by throwing people out.

“We should sit together and discuss. Mistakes are made at all levels, from the resident to grassroot members, but we only punish some people.

“What signal are we sending the people? The people rejected us in the 14th general election (GE14), the Malays rejected us in the 15th general election (GE15).

“Will we get their support with these kinds of actions? he asked.

Wan Agyl felt Umno will not have a good chance in the upcoming six state elections due to the party’s internal crisis.

“I don’t see Umno being able to win significant seats in the upcoming state elections. The Malays now have choices but Umno as a party are expecting the Malays to vote for them.

“In the recent GE, the Malays had a choice. We still haven’t solved our internal problems, but made it worse when the leadership fired and suspended members. This has caused various reactions from the grassroots,” he said.

In fact, he suggested Umno to refrain from participating in the six state elections.

“How are we going to face the state elections? Our party is still not strong, in the eyes of the people we still haven’t solved our problems.

“How do we win? We haven’t even agreed to the sharing of seats with PH.

“if we have to pull the ‘hand brake’ from joining the state elections, then we have to do it. We need to get close to the people and understand what they need,” he added.

On Friday night, Umno sacked Khairy Jamaluddin and Noh Omar, both veteran leaders, for allegedly working against the interests of the party.   

At the same time, Sembrong MP Hishammuddin Hussein and incumbent deputy Umno Youth chief Shahril Hamdan were suspended for six years.   

Also suspended were former Jempol MP Mohd Salim Shariff and former Tiram assemblyman Maulizan Bujang.  

Besides Khairy and Noh, 42 other party members were also expelled – nine from the Putrajaya division, five from the Pasir Gudang division, two from the Tanjung Karang division, and 26 from Pahang.

Wan Agyl said that the act of punishing members who are rebellious will certainly strengthen the position of the president. At the same time, it will also affect the party’s position in the eyes of ordinary people.

“Politically, the position of the president is strong, but what is the state of our party in the eyes of the public with such decisions?

“Do we want the president to strengthen his power or the party to be accepted by the people?

“If we strengthen the president by sacrificing the party, we will not be accepted by the people,” he said.

Umno Student and Youth Education Committee member Syed Mohd Syed Nasir says the party does not have a clear vision and direction. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, January 30, 2023.

Umno Student and Youth Education Committee member Syed Mohd Syed Nasir, 27, said the grassroots seemed unable to accept the leadership’s actions which he said was a violation of democracy and members’ rights.

Their actions, he said, also risked Umno in the state elections that will take place in Negri Sembilan, Penang, Selangor, Kedah, Terengganu, and Kelantan.

“The act of sacking and suspending can affect Umno and may cause it to lose the upcoming state elections or even the16th general election.

“We have voiced our concerns but Umno President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Umno’s Supreme Working Council did not listen until we lost in the recent GE,” he said.

For that defeat, the Umno Muar division member said, the party needs to change its structure and stop abusing its power and accept the reality that the people have rejected them.

“I cannot accept the violation of democracy and the right as an Umno member to express views for the betterment of the party.

“It is necessary to immediately change the party structure, stop the misuse of power, cease firing and suspending members and accept the reality of the people rejecting Zahid. Start again like the original Umno,” he said.

An Umno branch leader who declined to be identified said that lower-level members are fed up with the party’s endless internal crisis.

So much so that he said, some members of the party are thinking of not holding a branch meeting so that the branch will be deregistered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

“We are confused by what is happening, Umno is one, but why is the leadership divided to this extent.

“There are a few of us who are thinking of not holding meetings so that ROS will dissolve the branch as they are angry,” he said.

He also said that members would remain loyal to Umno even if disciplinary action was imposed on a group of party leaders.

“Every leadership has followers, some follow the leader and some follow the party, maybe some of their members will be lost if any of the leaders who are suspended or expelled join another party.

“But the number is not large, members still love the party, they just don’t agree with their leaders actions,” he said.

However, he said, Umno needs to realise that party members will not always be loyal if their voices are often marginalised.

“The leadership has to listen to the opinion of the grassroots, lest the grassroots feel that the party no longer has values and principles,” he stressed. –  January 30, 2023.

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