ARE the recent suspensions and sackings in UMNO routine forms of disciplinary actions or political purges? I don’t think they were routine in nature nor were they purges.
The UMNO leadership might have been forced to act as there were open challenges to the leadership from members including leaders and elected representatives.
So in this respect, the sackings and suspension do not the fit the concept of a purge. It is more of a systematic attempt to clean the party of those bent on challenging the leadership.
Deep seated insecurity might have fuelled the sackings and suspensions. As a beleaguered party that has lost considerable Malay support in the last federal elections, UMNO was not in a position to procrastinate.
Either the leadership took the necessary actions or allow the internal dissension to maul the progress of the party.
UMNO’s support for the unity government was something crucial for without it, there might not be a unity government in the first place.
I am not saying the disciplinary actions were not important, but the timing might have been problematic.
But the leadership might have been in dilemma of whether to proceed with the disciplinary measures or not.
The decision to proceed with these measures was probably based on the political calculation that the timing of the decision was appropriate. If there is any delay on the part of the leadership, the performance of the party in the coming state elections might be impaired.
After all, UMNO’s support of the unity government is crucial. Further unchecked dissensions in UMNO had the potential to wreck not UMNO but the stability of the unity government.
The decision was a political gamble to cleanse the party of its dissidents before they did more damage to the party. In the ultimate sense, the party had to take the decisive step and deal with the effects of suspensions and sacking.
I don’t think that the UMNO leadership can anticipate and deal with the opposition as they emerge.
Some have argued that UMNO might be further divided as result of these actions. To start off, UMNO was already divided even before the last general elections.
Splits and divisions in UMNO are common and might be even widespread. If these dissenters were allowed to roam freely, they might have damaged the party further.
Some of the principal voices of dissent came from leaders who merely vied for political power. The opposition to the leadership was not predicated on the need to bring far reaching changes to UMNO.
Rather dissent was aimed at replacing the party’s president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi more than anything else. Beyond this, there was no indication to introduce far reaching changes to the party.
Khairy Jamaludin or Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein were not Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim or even Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had the pull attraction.
While Khairy was not systematic in his attempt to remove Zahid, Hishammuddin was clearly attempting to subvert UMNO by his close and clandestine ties with Bersatu.
Maybe UMNO was not strong before the recent actions, but I seriously doubt the removal of Khairy or the suspension of Hishammuddin would affect the performance of UMNO in a big way. – Jan 30, 2023
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.