The Asian Voice

Umno on the brink of collapse: Sin Chew Daily columnist

In his commentary, the writer says his view of the challenges facing Umno, Malaysia's longest ruling party which is now in opposition.

New party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has pledged to reinstate RM10,000 (S$3365.6) allocations for each of the 191 divisions nationwide as well as the three party wings.
New party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has pledged to reinstate RM10,000 (S$3365.6) allocations for each of the 191 divisions nationwide as well as the three party wings.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - If Umno is unable to take the blows that come one after another, the party will never be able to recover one day.

The first blow comes from the frozen bank accounts.

Umno has all these years been running on money. The entire organisation will be completely paralysed if the bank accounts remain frozen for more than two years.

New party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has pledged to reinstate RM10,000 (S$3365.6) allocations for each of the 191 divisions nationwide as well as the three party wings, but the party now has problem settling its RM one million monthly operating expenses as well as salaries for more than 300 employees.

If the ties with the voters crumble, it will be impossible for Umno to even think of staging a serious comeback anytime soon.

So freezing Umno's bank accounts is the biggest and most lethal blow the party is suffering now.

The second blow comes from leadership crisis.


The newly elected party president has been hauled up by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to assist in the investigation over fund misappropriation to the tune of RM800,000 to settle credit card arrears of him and his wife.

If he is charged in a court, will he resign and a re-election called?

Or will deputy president Mohamad Hasan just take over the baton to lead the party out of the current doldrums?

Well, Hasan may be capable of leading a small state, but to helm an entire party is a very different story altogether.

Even if Ahmad Zahid is eventually proven innocent in the court, his weaknesses have already been fully exposed to both Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and prime minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim, as he previously served under these two Pakatan leaders.

Moreover, given his close relationship with Najib, Ahmad Zahid may have to make a few more trips to the court in future.

Najib still has his influences in Umno, and his value system has penetrated deep into the party such that it is impossible for the new party leadership to break the shackles of corruption and move forward.

For instance, former Umno Youth chairman Khairy Jamaluddin who claimed he regretted to have defended Najib, and former information chief Annuar Musa who had advised Najib on behalf of some cabinet and Umno supreme council members over the 1MDB issue, were both defeated in the just concluded party elections.

A Merdeka Center study conducted in conjunction with Umno elections shows that only 1 per cent of interviewed party members think that honesty and integrity are prerequisites for party presidency.

This shows that Najib's "cash is king" mentality has distorted the moral perceptions of many in the party.

The third blow comes from the tide of exodus.

Umno won 54 parliamentary seats, but three elected MPs have since quit the party to become independents, namely Bagan Serai MP Noor Azmi Ghazali, Bukit Gantang MP Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz and Masjid Tanah MP Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, the former Puteri Umno chairperson who says she is disappointed with the party for not seizing the opportunity to change.

Elected reps aside, veterans also have exited the party, including Daim Zainuddin, Rafidah Aziz, Rais Yatim and Syed Hamid.

More have followed after GE14 and many more are expected do so after the party elections.

The fourth blow is confidence crisis.

Despite the fact Ahmad Zahid had the support of 99 divisions, he only managed to get 39,197 votes or 42.4 per cent of total, showing that there are many members who are inclined to change.

Khairy has accused that many delegates were instructed or threatened by the "warlords" to vote for Zahid, while Tengku Razaleigh alleges of mass vote-buying.

As if that is not enough, the election of Jamal Md Yunos as Sungai Besar divisional chief is set to spark a confidence crisis that could eventually lead to a split in the party.

BN component parties will also lose their faith in Umno, and a complete collapse of the coalition is a matter of time.

Even though Umno secured 35-40 per cent of Malay votes in GE14, without civil servants' support, coupled with the exodus of members and collapse of public network, Umno's Malay support could slip further to 20 per cent or below.

The latest survey shows that 70 per cent of Malays are happy with the performance of the new government, and this says a lot about the imminent demise of Umno.

Sin Chew Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media entities.