UMNO is still clueless about its direction more than a year after it lost power in the last general election, said party veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
Although he was appointed as chairman of Umno’s council of advisers last July, the Gua Musang MP said he has not done anything.
“I haven’t done anything yet as I don’t know what is the direction Umno leaders want to set for the party.
“Everyone is going in different directions and there’s no certainty as to where the party should go. Some want to work with the opposition while others want to work with the government or Anwar Ibrahim or Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
But the 12-time MP said Umno still has a bright future despite losing power last year.
“I think Umno has a big future as the Malay population is growing exponentially. By 2025, it will be 70% or more.
“When they are 70% or more and they will demand for many things. So, if Umno is strong it will be able to take care of this problem,” he said.
Below are excerpts from the interview:
Q: What is your role as chairman of the council of advisers?
TR: I haven’t done anything yet as I don’t know what is the direction Umno leaders want to set for the party.
Everyone is going in different directions and there’s no certainty as to where the party should go. Some want to work with the opposition while others want to work with the government or Anwar Ibrahim or Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
I have no qualms about who they want to work with but what is the direction of the party? As such, it’s very hard for me and I haven’t even appointed other advisers.
Q: Has any leader asked for advice yet?
Q: Where does the problem lie as the new president (Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) has been in place for a year now?
TR: The problem is the thinking. As for the president, he has gone on leave.
Q: Is the problem due to an absent president?
TR: No, I think it’s the leadership. It is hard when we fell out of favour with the voters and we lost power. We lost everything.
We seem at a loss. That seems to be the impression people have about the so-called leadership. But the grassroots is still very strong and Bersatu can’t even persuade them to switch parties.
Q: What does Supreme Council need to do?
TR: I don’t know who they are. At least you know those people who led Umno previously were people of substance with commitment and prepared to sacrifice.
It was a great calling for all of them. Tunku Abdul Rahman gave up his job and sold his estate to finance the running of Umno. Abdul Razak gave up his job and came back to work for the party and the people. But what have we got now?
Everyone’s just out to protect the RM100-RM200 million. That’s not a struggle.
Q: What’s the difference between working with PAS now compared with the 1970s?
TR: We had power, position and influence then and the situation was different, too. Cultures have also changed.
As such, I want to ask whether our partnership with PAS is for ideology or just to win elections.
We fight for a purpose while elections are just a by-product. But we should go for a struggle. It’s immaterial whether we win or lose in elections.
Of course, we want power but we can consolidate power through our struggle which we must get to accept.
Q: Are there conversations going in Umno on where it wants to go? Where does the problem lie?
TR: There are conversations but they are not clear about what they want.
I’m afraid that they are not thinking it through. They need to think about what is good for the country and what’s good for the people they are leading, which are the Malays.
Q: Why are these conversations not happening?
TR: Probably, they are preoccupied with other things like their personal problems. I’m not sure.
When you talk about personal problems, the president is facing a lot of charges.
These are not simple charges and you could go to jail.
Q: Does Umno have a future?
TR: Umno have a great future no matter what you like. This country will always want to see (some people don’t agree with my term here), the sons of the soil – or Malays – should be protected and aligned with the national aspirations cause it’s their country.
This country was called Tanah Melayu and not Tanah Cina or Tanah India. The English changed it to Malaya like they changed Mesir to Egypt.
There’s no wrong in that.
I think Umno has a big future as the Malay population is growing exponentially. By 2025, it will be 70% or more. I’m not saying the Chinese shouldn’t grow but they are very clever and they want to keep their families small so that they can look after them properly in terms of education, etc. It’s very good for the country although not for the Chinese population.
The Malays live in the rural areas and are not very exposed and, therefore, they breed like anything. And you have this population explosion. Nobody’s to be blamed but it’s what happens.
Malays are going to be a problem for the country as it will be 70% or more and they will demand for many things. So, if Umno is strong it will be able to take care of this problem.
When they are faced with problems from their own race, they are not going to come up against the Chinese or others but have to solve those problems or they will be thrown out.
I think Umno is going to be more relevant in the future but Umno must be strong to tell the Malays what they are going to get or deserve and nothing more. And we are going to look after the minorities. We need a strong Umno.
Q: What’s your advice to Umno?
TR: Like what Tunku (Abdul Rahman) used to say, Umno needs to be mindful of others’ interests and look after they sensitivities. Don’t do what you don’t want others to do to you.
That’s basically what Tunku used to say and it’s a very good philosophy so that we can live together. There’s so much to share as this country is very rich.
That’s what I learnt when we started Petronas. And most of this money that Petronas has earned comes from oil exploration outside the country. Not from Sarawak or Terengganu, which is only a little bit but from Sudan, Iran, etc.
The bulk of Petronas’ RM90 billion comes from outside the country.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT