Fragmented Umno needs to cleanse itself or its days are numbered

Battle lines were drawn at last weekend’s Umno general assembly as leaders fought for the survival not just of their political careers, but their party’s as well.

This is the opinion of Associate Professor Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk, who predicts contests for the top posts if and when Umno decides to hold party polls.

Umno’s elections are due this year but could be postponed to after the 15th general election – which might be held within a year.

Umno adopted a resolution at the general assembly to sever ties with the Perikatan Nasional government and called for Umno leaders to resign from the Cabinet and government-linked companies.

Leading the call was party president and former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“Zahid and many of his ‘people’ are not in the government. Some are, but not all,” said Azeem, who is Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Policy Research and International Studies director.

“There is also uneasiness as people like Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (Foreign Minister) and Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba (Health Minister) hold important posts, but are not even Umno supreme council members.

“Zahid wants Umno ministers to stop working with the prime minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin). The problem is Muhyiddin has spoken to them and they have pledged to continue working with his government for the time being.

“And (Science, Technology and Innovation Minister) Khairy Jamaluddin has even asked Zahid to expedite party polls so ‘clean’ leaders run the party.”

Azeem said this was a necessity as Umno is fighting for survival with several of its members facing criminal charges.

“Umno’s days are numbered but its leaders are not willing to admit it. It has to change to survive,” said Azeem.

Former president Datuk Seri Najib Razak was found guilty by the High Court of seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering concerning RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd.

“Najib has been convicted by the courts. He may think he is popular (on social media) and is appealing his sentence, but he has other charges hanging over him. Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, too, has been found guilty of graft,” said Azeem.

“Zahid himself is facing 47 charges for criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering. Several other Umno leaders are facing criminal charges and their verdicts might be soon.

“Umno needs clean leaders.

“That is why I feel Muhyiddin is a smart operator. He knows the likelihood of the Umno leaders who are facing charges would be found guilty. He can play a waiting game.”

Azeem said he would not be surprised if there are contests for all the top posts when party elections are held.

“Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and (Senior Minister) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob could go for the No 1 and No 2 posts,” said Azeem.

“Khairy and Hishammuddin could contest for vice-president posts.”

For the record, Umno has three vice-presidents.

Azeem said Khairy would unlikely go for the top post again after losing in the 2018 party elections.

Back then, it was a five-cornered fight to replace Najib with Zahid emerging top, followed by Khairy, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and two dark horses – Mohamed Iqbal Maricair and Mohd Yusof Musa @ Jamaluddin.

“He (Khairy) lost three years ago and may not want to risk it this time. He is still young (45 years old) and time is on his side.”

With Umno unlikely to make much headway in GE15, Azeem added the smart move would be for Khairy to bide his time and make his move before GE16 as Umno could, by then, be a stronger force with “clean” leaders in place.

Here’s the news round-up of The News Normal.

DON’T GET INVOLVED WITH ANTI-VAXXERS, CIVIL SERVANTS TOLD

Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali has reminded civil servants not to be involved with anti-vaccine groups.

The Chief Secretary to the Government said this includes making or publishing statements, rumours or news on anti-vaccine with the intention of causing fear.

He also called on civil servants to sign up for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

HISHAMMUDDIN, BLINKEN DISCUSS MYANMAR COUP, SOUTH CHINA SEA

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke this morning as they reflected on shared interests between both nations and discussed their desire to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

The two leaders also expressed deep concern over the military coup in Myanmar.

Blinken underscored the importance of promoting freedom of navigation, overflight and other lawful uses of the sea, including in the South China Sea.

RTM TURNS 75

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin urged Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) to be bold in making changes to ensure its services remain fresh and relevant.

Delivering his speech virtually during RTM’s 75th anniversary celebrations in Wisma Angkasapuri this morning, Muhyiddin said RTM has been a catalyst of the nation’s creative industry, especially in media development, broadcasting and communication technologies.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah congratulated RTM on its role in helping to build a national identity for the country and welcomed RTM’s commitment to ensure persons with disabilities are not left behind with its plans of having more sign interpreters for its main programmes.

During the celebrations, RTM also launched TV Sukan – a 24-7 sports channel. It can viewed online [https://rtmklik.rtm.gov.my/tv/4] or via myFreeview (channel 111).

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HEIN HTET AUNG’S THREE-FINGER SALUTE AND MALAYSIA BANNING ISRAEL FROM COMPETING IN KUCHING?

Hein Htet Aung’s three-finger salute during a football match early last month cost him a one-match ban.

The action by the Myanmar footballer, who plays for Selangor FC II, may be easily brushed off by fans with the FA of Malaysia being forced to step in as to not condone unsportsmanlike behaviour.

However, policies by the decision makers seem to stray from the spirit of fair play.

Sports should be pure, colour blind and viewed without any political affiliation or bias.

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