Umno party polls to be held by April 2019

Former ruling party Umno has until April 2019 to hold its Supreme Council elections but there are already dissenting voices on whether the top three posts in Malaysia's largest party should be contested.

Following the shocking defeat of the Umno-led coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) in the May 9 elections, former premier Najib Razak resigned from his posts as president of Umno and chairman of BN.

Umno is now helmed by acting president and former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, with former defence minister Hishamuddin Hussein as acting deputy president.

Former Melaka chief minister Ali Rustam said yesterday that the party's top three posts should not be contested next April.

He said Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid and Datuk Seri Hishamuddin should be confirmed as president and deputy president respectively. Former youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin should automatically take one of the three vice-president posts available, he added.

"At the national level, we should endorse these three names as we need to strengthen our party and be more mature to act as an effective opposition," he told reporters at the party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

However, Mr Khairy, who is Umno youth chief, said that no seat should be considered sacred, attributing Umno's election defeat to this practice.

"I think this no-contest business is one of the reasons why people lost faith in us in the first place. It looked like we don't provide the democratic space for our members. We better stop this nonsense of no-contest business," Mr Khairy was quoted as saying by The Malay Mail news site.

Yesterday, Umno announced that the Registrar of Societies had granted it an extension to hold the Umno Supreme Council polls, originally due in 2017, to April 19 next year. Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said in a statement: "... the Registrar of Societies does not have any objections to allow the election of Umno's Supreme Council to be held no later than April 19, 2019."

Last month, some Umno members filed a legal suit asking for the party to be declared illegal because it had not held internal polls for nearly five years. The suit was dismissed by the High Court.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 20, 2018, with the headline 'Umno party polls to be held by April 2019'. Print Edition | Subscribe