The UMNO leadership has reaffirmed that the party will field more new faces in the upcoming general elections. While the idea is good, I think the party leadership needs to satisfy these questions; though not exhaustive.
First, who are the new faces? I presume the word ‘new faces’ here do not reflect an age limit, but to mean that the candidate is of a suitable age and a ‘first timer’ to appear in the party hierarchy. I also think that these new faces are those that have been lingering at the ‘periphery’ of UMNO politics – often seen but seldom heard.
Second, how will the selection process be made? Deciding upon a process of selection I think will be tough, and it will be much tougher to implement that process. I suppose the party will have to establish a set of criteria or traits that a candidate need to have. I can list some based on what I observe of an UMNO politicians, as an outsider. For me, I view politicians as leaders; hence it is the leadership traits that are important, that should form the primary basis of selection, and there are many.
Third, how will the grass root members respond? This is a touchy issue. To ignore grass root support is to invite disaster, and to seek consensus all the time is a never ending process. How then will the party leaders circumvent or overcome this thriving issue will be their greatest challenge. In this regards, the party has learnt many bad lessons in the past, one of which is to choose and place a candidate in a constituency that is foreign to the candidate, especially so in a rural constituency. To prove my point, just try and place PM Najib; the party’s most winnable candidate so to speak, to contest in my kampong Ulu Langat and I can assure you that he may lose. Or have KJ instead; this so-called highly rated youth leader, he too is certain to lose.
UMNO is known as a party of patronage and this ‘culture’ is too difficult to eradicate now. I think the statement by PM Naijb to field new faces must have caused some concern within the party ranks, especially those that are comfortable and well entrenched in ranking position in the party. Even the post of a Ketua Bahagian which is a fiercely fought post, I am told comes with a number of perks, and is a step closer towards acquiring a ministerial position. How then could the leadership ignore such members that are already having some power of influence, and to choose someone that is outside the realm of the party leadership?
Based on the above analysis, I think the new faces referred to by the party leadership will eventually come from those that are already holding some position of influence within the party. Some have held their position for quite awhile, and it is only being human that they too aspire to advance up the political ladder. Such will be the group that will be slighted if they are ignored and are likely to sabotage the party, and the party has experience this before. And the spirit of volunteerism to appeal to individuals to leave on their own accord is never UMNO’s culture.
And taking the example of our previous PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, wasn’t he being forced out? In the case of Malacca Chief Minister Ali Rastum and Rembau parliamentarian KJ who both were found to have been involved in money politics (coincidently not a crime in UMNO, but morally wrong), did they voluntarily resign? You know the answer.
I don’t think UMNO lacks members that are qualified and make good future leaders. But the problem with the party (I am told) is that the ‘herd mentality’ is so strong that it is difficult ousting someone from a position although he/she is proven not to be performing or has done something wrong. I also believe that this ‘herd mentality’ had a defining role in putting back Isa Samad as the candidate for the Teluk Kemang by-election and subsequently appointed FELDA’s Chairman. His past wrong doing does not really matter to the party, and I think this is UMNO’s biggest sin.
Finally, I say this in no uncertain terms that a leader that is tarnished loses all morality to lead, and sadly UMNO has many such leaders. I am just too keen to see who these new faces are to contest in the upcoming GE, and my only hope is not those tarnished, recycled or reconditioned ones.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION