KUALA LUMPUR - Former Malaysian youth minister Khairy Jamaluddin who lost on Saturday (June 30) in his bid to become the next president of Umno has attacked the party's powerful 'warlords' for blocking its members' wish for change.
He claimed that the electoral-college voting system adopted by Umno favoured the 'warlords' - referring to the 191 division chiefs - who keep a tight grip on how members voted.
He said on his Twitter page on Sunday (July 1) that many voting delegates were "directed, threatened, forced to follow the warlords' choice", claims that could divide the already weakened party.
Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, 65, is the new Umno president after getting 99 out of the 191 divisional votes.
Mr Khairy was second with 61 and the third candidate.
Veteran MP Tengku Razaleigh, 81, received 30 votes. One division did not take part in the party elections.
Two other candidates for the president's post, low ranking party members, did not get any votes.
Some 150,000 delegates voted nationwide - except in Sarawak where Umno does not have representation - with each of the 191 divisions pick one candidate for presidency.
Mr Khairy said the actual tally of the votes showed big support for him.
He said he received 32,592 votes from the delegates, against Zahid's 39,197.
"Popular vote statistics show that majority of Umno members want change. But the ballot system is in favour of warlords who have a strong grip on their divisions," tweeted Khairy.
"Many were ordered, threatened, and forced to support the warlords' choice," the 42-year old claimed.
"The majority of members want change, but the warlords are still deaf to the voice of the people," he said, in direct reference to the powerful division chiefs.
The so-called warlords control Umno's political direction as well as its purse strings.
Mr Khairy said: "Thank you all who supported me. Although I accept this decision with an open heart, I wanted Umno to change."
Meanwhile, former chief the Puteri (Young Women) wing Mas Ermieyati Samsudin said she has quit the party as she is disappointed with Umno's failure to elect fresh faces for the party leadership.
Datuk Seri Mas in a statement said that she had hoped that Umno will be steered in a "new direction" in the party elections.
"I hoped to see Umno members choose at least 70 per cent of fresh faces as leaders, but that did not happen," she said.
"What sort of election is this, if the virus is left to spread and the medicine is too bitter to swallow," said Ms Mas on Sunday.
She said she will continue with her role as MP for a Melaka constituency.