PETALING JAYA – An academic has criticised the motion for the two top posts in Umno to go uncontested at the next party polls, that had received the approval of delegates at the general assembly today.
Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) said such an action was not in line with talk of a political transformation “to democratise Umno”.
He was commenting on the motion brought by Umno Youth for Umno president Najib Razak and his number two Ahmad Zahid Hamidi not to be challenged at the next party polls.
Umno permanent chairman Badruddin Amiruddin said the motion was passed unanimously, at the end of the morning session of the annual Umno general assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre here today.
“In the spirit of unity, we have decided in this assembly that the post of president and deputy president will not be contested,” Badruddin said.
The proposal was made on Wednesday by Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, adding that Umno Youth gave its fullest support to Najib and Zahid to continue helming the party.
Kamarul, who is director of UUM’s Malaysian Institute for Political Studies, said the motion is absurd because it does not fit the criticisms made by Umno leaders on the autocratic way of former party president Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“The move for the post of president and Umno deputy president to be uncontested is one of the many legacies of Mahathir when he led the party because of his fear that he would be challenged after almost losing in the 1987 Umno election.
“With Najib saying that Mahathir would only set the country back to his autocratic ways, this motion today should not have been made in the first place.
“It gives the impression that Najib and Zahid are afraid of facing a challenge,” he said.
Kamarul added that such a motion was also uncalled for as there are no leaders in the party who could muster a challenge to Najib for the post of president.
“However, for the post of deputy president, the post is vacant and so, should be open to being contested,” he said, referring to the post previously filled by Muhyiddin Yassin who was sacked by the party last year.
Zahid was elevated to the Umno number two post as a result, but remains a vice-president who is officially performing the duties of deputy president.
Referring to the “political transformation” remarks, Kamarul cited Najib’s policy speech yesterday which stated how the party is now more democratic than it has ever been.
“The Umno general assembly in 2009 had approved seven constitutional amendments to provide space for the party’s election to be carried out openly, with over 150,000 members participating.
“This to ensure Umno remains dynamic, inclusive and relevant,” Kamarul said making the comparison with how only the 3,000 delegates would make the decisions.
He then urged both Najib and Zahid to reject the motion and allow for Umno divisions to nominate anyone for the two top posts, even though this motion had been approved.