The Umno general assembly now being held from December 5 to 9 is the last before GE14. Consequently, the “warring” mood dominates this year’s event.
The entire general assembly has revolved around the general election as delegates are urged to stay united against their enemies and fight for voters’ support.
No disagreement nor signs of division, the assembly showcases a powerful air of unity. The minor cracks that emerged soon after the departure of Mahathir and Muhyiddin appear to have healed.
The party leadership has banked on the assembly to remarkably lift the morale of members and prepare them for the impending election war. The unprecedented solidarity shows that prime minister and Umno president Najib is firmly in control.
Now that the party has succeeded in appeasing the dissident voices from within, it has to set its targets unambiguously in the run-up to the election, while trying to convey the messages of goodwill to win the hearts of more voters, in particular non-bumiputras.
DPM cum Umno vice president Ahmad Zahid has earlier urged party members to embrace the country’s unique diversity and not to overlook the interests of other ethnic communities, as they defend Islam, Malays as well as national interests.
During his policy speech, Najib has reminded party members to fight for the support of swing voters through a variety of campaigns. He insists that Umno is not an anti-Chinese party.
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Even as the Malay society remains solid vote bank for Umno, to seal BN’s victory it is absolutely necessary for Umno to fight hard for every single vote up for grabs. As such, Umno must display a more liberal approach so as not to jeopardize the winning chances of other component parties.
GE14 is going to be a really tough challenge for both Umno and BN.
The country’s political landscape began to experience dramatic changes after the 2008 general elections. Although the opposition failed to wrestle the federal administration from the grips of BN, it managed to deny the ruling coalition of its two-thirds majority in Parliament and to prove that it was strong enough to fight for dominance against the BN.
During the 2013 general elections, Pakatan Rakyat won the popular votes for the first time. And with Mahathir now taking stand on the opposite site, the fight is going to be real tough this time and GE14 is poised to be a crucial battle for both camps.
While we have yet to know when the prime minister will actually dissolve the Parliament to pave way for election, from the various signs released during this year’s assembly, it is obvious Umno is off to the battle mode.