The party is never at fault. It is the leaders who destroy it.
Those were the words of Anhdeer Supardy Lazuardi.
The 36-year-old Umno member is frustrated. He spent the past five years serving Batu constituents, even going door to door weeks before the 14th general election.
“Instead, a 22-year-old boy who was unheard of won to become Batu MP. Why? Because people just hated Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN),” said Anhdeer.
With the win, independent candidate P. Prabakaran became the country’s youngest MP. The law student was endorsed as a PKR candidate after incumbent Tian Chua was disqualified from contesting.
The hatred among the people was so obvious that Umno-led BN crumbled on May 9, allowing Pakatan Harapan to take over Putrajaya.
But that has not driven Anhdeer to quit Umno. In fact, he is contesting for the Pemuda Batu vice-president’s post in the upcoming party elections.
Elections for Wanita, Pemuda and Puteri leaders at division and national levels will be on June 23 while key party positions will be decided on June 30.
Anhdeer is up against Nor Aqkmal Ramly. Both are Pemuda Batu committee members.
But why represent a failed party that many continue to ridicule?
“I believe in Umno. It’s a proven party. Umno, through BN, has been serving the people for over 60 years.”
“This is the time for Umno to change its approach. In the past, Umno and BN leaders always wanted to know numbers (of people who will attend programmes). It’s not about showing numbers but providing substance.
“You can have 10 people at your event but if they get the message and believe in your cause, it will go a long way. But we have been spending hundreds of thousands, if not millions of ringgit, on programmes and they have failed to convince the voters.”
So what is Anhdeer’s motivation? Money? Projects? Power?
“I’ve never received any projects or contracts as an Umno member. This is the best time to evaluate who are true Umno members. We will know in the next five years who are the loyalists and who aren’t.”
Other faces eager to serve Umno include Ikmal Hazlan Ikmal Hisham (contesting for the Pemuda exco and Tanah Merah division vice-president post) and Noor Azleen Ambros (Pasir Gudang division Pemuda chief).
Anhdeer said new faces are good but warned some of them could be opportunists.
“They are just trying their luck. They have not been serving the constituents. Umno should not fall into the same trap.”
He said the best person to lead Umno is Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
“Ku Li is the longest serving MP, has no scandals and has fought Tun Dr Mahathir (Mohamad). He knows Dr Mahathir well enough,” said Anhdeer.
“Umno needs an experienced leader. As for Khairy Jamaluddin and Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi … they have yet to reach Dr Mahathir’s level.”
Andheer admitted questions are being raised as to why those who failed to convince voters including the youths, despite mammoth programmes leading up to GE14, are still eyeing key positions.
“Right now, Umno’s main task is to be a good opposition (party). And to do that we need good leaders.
“Umno must start from the grassroots … convincing its members and the community it is eager to change.”
Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, who is eyeing for the Umno vice-president’s post, stressed many still recognised Umno’s contribution.
The former Finance Minister II said the fresh faces were a “positive sign”.
“Those days the members had to face warlords within the party … but what’s the point of being warlords when you don’t have power. Now we see more individuals coming out to offer themselves,” said Johari.
“Many still love Umno … but they want real changes, real transformation.”
He said Umno must set high standards in moving forward and that stern action must be taken without fear or favour against those who crossed the line.
“Umno is not a party to find money, projects or (attain) power. This party is to serve the people.”
Asked about the president’s post, he said there were only three real contenders – Tengku Razaleigh, Zahid and Khairy. He believes there is no such thing as a perfect candidate and the trio have a fair chance of leading a wounded Umno.
He said Umno lost its motive and direction, adding that leaders holding government positions were not sensitive towards other races.
“They forget by being ministers, deputy ministers or division heads they are not only representing Umno but BN.
“Perhaps the leaders got over-confident and thought they were always right despite the various constant noises made by people from the outside.”
Will this Umno elections be different?
“We will only see the difference once the results are out,” said Johari.
“If the results more or less favour the same faces, then there’s no new Umno.”