Democracy is dead in UMNO: Anwar urged to make ‘friendly’ intervention

THE motion to exclude election for party president and deputy president from the upcoming UMNO elections is tantamount to democracy is dead in the party and will have a direct impact on the leadership of the Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Universiti Malaya’s senior lecturer at the Faculty of Economics and Administration Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub stressed the need to have political will to open up the space for democracy in UMNO lest the party will be seen as closing the space just to protect the interests of its leaders.

As such, Anwar should intervene by advising Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi without the intention of interfering in the party’s affairs but solely in the capacity of maintaining the PM’s image as a staunch supporter of democracy through the reform agenda.

“Personally speaking, this can to some extent tarnishes Anwar’s image because UMNO is part of the current government. In fact, anything related to the coalition component will also have an impact on Anwar’s leadership as PM,” he pointed out in a media statement.

“This is because UMNO’s action will have a direct impact on Anwar’s image. As anything involving the principle of coalition parties in the unity government will have an impact on the PM and the outcome of the state election, all political parties in the government need to carefully manage their respective parties.”

Added Tawfik who is a reputable political analyst: “The component parties of the Federal government will contest in several state polls. If this UMNO-related issue is not dealt with properly, it will have a negative impact on the outcome of the next state election for Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) itself.”

For the record, UMNO Rembau division representative Mohd Shukri Shamsudin had submitted an additional motion of no competition for the position of president and deputy president be approved at the 2022 UMNO general assembly before the winding up session in accordance with Clause 30 of the UMNO Constitution and Article 10 of the Conference Rules.

Other delegates present at the Kuala Lumpur’s World Trade Centre’s (WTC) Dewan Merdeka had allegedly jeered the representative on Friday (Jan 13) for proposing the motion.

The contest for the two top UMNO posts has become a hot topic recently with several leaders including Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Khairy Jamaluddin as well as several other big names expressing interest to vie for both positions.

Moreover, the Johor and Federal Territories UMNO have rejected the motion that the positions of president and deputy president should stay uncontested in the upcoming party elections.

The Malaysian Insight cited their spokesman Zainal Abidin Mohd Rafique as saying that such motion if approved would cast a negative light on the party.

UMNO vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has also expressed concern that the motion of no-contest for the top two posts in the upcoming party polls in May could have violated the party’s constitution.

The Bera MP and former PM highlighted two schools of thought on the interpretation of the motion not to contest the posts of president and deputy president that was passed during UMNO’s general assembly yesterday (Jan 14).

He further questioned whether the assembly had the power to pass such a resolution. In his view, the party constitution, specifically states that the selection of office bearers shall be done through an election.

“The word is ‘shall’ which means it is a must (compulsory),” he told a press conference at the conclusion of the general assembly. “If the word is ‘may’, then an option exists,” he justified.

Article 8(1) of the party’s constitution states that the general assembly is the party’s highest authority, and the party’s direction would be determined based on its powers and orders, subject to the constitution and other rules.

He suggested that the matter should be referred to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) although he himself will not take up such task. – Jan 15, 2023

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