11 May, 2008

Umno has to reform to be relevant ?

Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat: "Umno has to reform to be relevant"

The Umno anniversary today will not be a happy occasion.

Behind the flag-raising, the honour guard, the prayers and the speeches at the party headquarters, Umno members are either dispirited, disconsolate, demoralised or in denial after the shocking results of Election 2008.

While the leaders delay the inevitable, the grassroots want answers. They want heads to roll. They want change. They want reform. In order to be relevant, to be in power.

Twenty years ago, Umno did that. It reformed in the image of the president when we were made illegal, forming Umno Baru to succeed the old Umno which I became a member in 1963 and later elected to Parliament in 1969.

The dates hold special significance.

In 1969, in the aftermath of May 13, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wrote a letter criticising then UMNO president Tunku Abdul Rahman.

In 1988, a challenge against Dr Mahathir made Umno illegal.

In 2008, Dr Mahathir's criticisms helped unseat Barisan Nasional and by extension Umno, from four states.

So Umno crises happen every 20 years or so. And ironically thus far, all have involved Dr Mahathir.

But Dr Mahathir has been a great leader. I know as I have worked with him despite being fired by him twice. I accept that. We have to work with the leadership to achieve the aims of developing Malaysia. There can be no other aim.

Today, we do not see this happening. The current leadership is working at cross-purposes and are not united behind the party president. In fact, some leaders have become too powerful, assuming powers that they don't even have under the party constitution and running roughshod over the grassroots.

Umno's power is from the grassroots and we have to reform to be relevant for them and the people. The party president can do a few things to achieve relevance with the grassroots and the people.

Firstly, the president has to listen to the grassroots. The branches. The divisions. Without filtering and sanitisation by the state liaison chiefs. The liaison chiefs are just that. Liaison chiefs with no power to decide and to censor the voice and aspirations of the rank and file.

For too long they have been a power unto themselves and it is time Umno streamlines its organisational chart to prevent a top-down leadership.

Secondly, the president has to do away with the 30 percent quota for nominations. That quota was put there to ensure no challenges for Dr Mahathir. It is not democratic. It is time it is eliminated from Umno's election rules.

Thirdly, Umno should have term limits for office bearers. The party needs a system that allows potential leaders to move up the rank and file instead of creating congestion at the top and keeping demoralising potential leaders who will have nowhere to go. Perhaps two terms for the presidency and other key office bearers.

The old ways won't work anymore. We have been independent for 50 years with one ruling coalition that has Umno as its backbone. That is a long time and we have been working the same way since then.

But if Umno does not reform, it will go the way of the Liberal Democrat Party in Japan, the Congress Party in India, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Mexico and other grand old parties that overstayed their welcome because of inflexibility.

Umno has to reform to be relevant.

(Malaysian Insider)

Why BN and Umno performed miserably

(by Dr Mahathir Mohamad - Sun2Surf)

DATUK Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the president of Umno, chairman of the Barisan Nasional and Prime Minister of Malaysia has blamed everyone else except himself for the miserable performance of the coalition in the 12th general election.

He has blamed the whole electorate for not wanting him to get a two-thirds majority; BN members and Umno members in Kedah and Perak for sabotage; Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for BN’s defeat in Kelantan and myself for speaking against him and his government.

He is not too far wrong. There is a lot of truth in what he says. I know that many Umno members voted for the Opposition. I admit that what I said may have influenced some of them into doing the unthinkable
But the more important question is why did they do this. Umno members had always been loyal to the party. They would never vote for the Opposition, particularly PAS and DAP. Yet they did in the 2008 general election. How else could the Opposition parties win if they did not get the votes of BN supporters? The reduction in the votes for BN candidates very nearly matches the increase in votes for the opposition parties.

In the last 50 years and 11 general elections Umno members and the average Malaysian had never failed to support Umno or the Alliance/BN. Except for 1969 when the Chinese withdrew their support, the Alliance and the BN had won a two-thirds majority every time.....more



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