• I/O

UMNO, We Have A Problem...

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a moulder of consensus.” - MLK


UMNO leaders and members alike know they have a leadership problem, but will they be brave enough to effect the required changes to propel the party back to Putrajaya?

Is UMNO ready for a total revamp of its leadership?

UMNO, like all parties, have many problems.


But when you speak to the normal members and the party's supporters, they will tell you that most of these problems could easily be addressed internally.


Personally, if I were to pinpoint the biggest problem UMNO currently has, it is its leadership, hands down.


It is not that they don’t have good - even great – and capable leaders, but the truth is, most of them shy away from voicing out for fear of reprisal from the upper echelons of the party. They know the party has a leadership problem; majority of the leaders and the grassroots know that, even their supporters know that, and even its biggest detractors and critics know that.


A change in the top would address the leadership problem that they currently have. But will it solve all the party’s problems? Of course not. But once the biggest problem is addressed, I truly believe that the other problems plaguing the party will be easily addressed.


It pains me to say this, and I say this with all due respect, but with the current leadership, I doubt they will win in the next GE. It is nothing personal against the current leadership, but some perceptions, true or otherwise, just couldn’t be changed no matter what they do. And this is one of them.


As aforementioned, they have good and capable leaders, so the issue of better alternatives to the current president and other positions does not arise. UMNO members are actually spoiled for choice in the forthcoming party elections.


But what the party wants is immaterial, is it not? In the end, they are servants of the people, it is the people who matter the most, it is they who decide whether UMNO win or become the dominant party once again in the next election.

In my honest opinion, the expectations for the incoming president and other leaders are simple: clear directions on what the party intends to do, inspire the members to unite and work as one, and have a clear and robust strategies to face the GE, when it comes.


The core party supporters are still stolidly behind them and want them to recapture Putrajaya again. But just like most of the UMNO members, they also want to see clear directions and able leadership.


Those who traditionally voted for UMNO and BN but swung to PH in the last GE have realized their mistakes and are going back to the party's fold. Their frustrations and perceived betrayal of their trusts and votes by the PH Government are what’s driving them back to the party. But in order to fully recapture them, UMNO needs to fix the core issues they have, and this particular group also wants to see UMNO fix the issues - perceived or otherwise - they have.


It is given that the party wants to be the dominant party again. UMNO and BN's experiences in governance are unparalleled. There is no party – and no coalition like BN – who could claim they know how to govern better than UMNO.


But what the party wants is immaterial, is it not? In the end, they are servants of the people, it is the people who matter the most, it is they who decide whether UMNO win or become the dominant party once again in the next election.


While there are still fundamental and important issues and changes that the party needs to undertake and go through, contrary to what is propagated out there, the party has gone through a lot of actual changes:


Humbled by the collective power of the rakyat, they are now cognizant of the fact that actual power lies in the hands of the general public. While some from both sides of the political divide are busy politicking, UMNO members have been reaching out to, and serving, the rakyat. And because the online portals are predominantly pro-PH, coupled with UMNO's lack of Communication knowledge and strategies, not many know that. But the people on the ground do, and that's what matters in the grand scheme of things.


Unlike before, the UMNO grassroots have become more vocal in what they want to see from the central leadership. This is evidenced by the recent call by majority of the Bahagians to end ties with PPBM. In some ways, the party is no longer a party of yes men, they have regained their voices and will speak out when required. When was the last time you heard of such changes within the party?


It is heartening to note that they are slowly but surely becoming the UMNO that the founding founders envisioned; a party that belongs to the grassroots and not the leadership alone. Once the leadership fully comprehends this, I truly believe that they will do the right thing.


The political landscape in the country has changed immensely. And when you add the new first-time voters to the mix, especially the 18 years old, it will be a totally different political landscape.


Humbled by the collective power of the rakyat, they are now cognizant of the fact that actual power lies in the hands of the general public.

One of the reasons for their loss in GE14 that is often unmentioned or set aside was their inability to capture the youths. If you were to look at data on this particular demographic, it is evident that UMNO and BN failed to attract the youths and/or lost their trust and confidence, and with it, their votes. This is one of the things that they have to focus on and prepare for. With more youths voting in the coming GE, UMNO and BN need to have clear strategies on how to attract them and effectively communicate why they should choose the coalition that built the country.


I have said this many, many times; UMNO also needs to improve its communications. The party needs to strategically look at new ways to counter the propaganda against them. Preaching to the already converted is nothing but plain shiok-sendiriness. They need to pro-actively counter whatever that are negatively and unfoundedly spewed against them. They should learn from other parties on how best to propagate their messages and/or counter the lies that are being told against the party.

UMNO has a lot of capable leaders from amongst its Youth ranks, but will they be given the chance?

UMNO also needs to make way for new talents, and refresh its candidates for the coming GE. I know this is easier said than done; power, after all, is an extremely addictive aphrodisiac, but this is why leadership is extremely crucial.


If the incoming leadership looks at the future and field more young, fresh and capable candidates, what could the old guards do? Sabotage the party? If so, this is why going to the ground and engaging the rakyat, especially the youths, become crucial.


Again, if there is one thing UMNO and BN have learned in GE14, it is that true power lies not with the old guards and traditional war lords, but with the people.




Note: This was co-written by my brother, Wan Agyl.