KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 ― Veteran Umno leader Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah proposed today 10 ways Umno and its political partners can change to stay relevant, amid heavy criticism from voters.
The Gua Musang MP since 1986 said his party used to be a strong political power that was a binding force representing a multicultural Malaysia, but has changed into a self-preserving vehicle.
“As I see it, the party has let down the public badly. It does not, now, work in the interest of the country. Now Umno protects the interest of its leaders,” the politician known as Ku Li said while launching a book titled The End of Umno? Essays on Malaysia’s Dominant Party.
“It is time Umno cleaned its act and, together with its partners, adopt the sort of strategies for it to remain relevant,” said Razaleigh, who later admitted to feeling like an “outsider” inside his own party.
Foremost on his proposed reform agenda is for Umno to uphold constitutional democracy and the separation of powers as a fundamental principle, and making the equality of citizenship one of its objectives.
Among others, Ku Li urged Umno to adhere to the objectives of public service and for its leaders to refrain themselves from getting tangled in the corporate world to ensure the separation of business from politics in addition to upholding and respecting the independence of the judiciary and the judicial process.
He also said Umno must ensure that political dialogues and statements do not create racial or religious animosity, and aim not to use racial and communal agitation for political ends.
Umno should also uphold the federal and state constitutions and their democratic intent and spirit, the rule of law, and the fundamental liberties as enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Umno needs to remain relevant and in doing so, the party must follow parameters acceptable to practising democracies. Most importantly, its struggle must be seen as being above board and within the law. It must not be accused of resorting to and justifying the practice of dirty, underhanded politics,” Razaleigh said earlier in his speech.
One of the writers of the essays in the book, Emeritus Prof Clive Kessler of the University of New South Wales, Australia, stressed that there can never be any change in Malaysia so long as that change is resisted by Umno.
“There can be no plausible and enduring change, nor change that has any prospect of enjoying broad acceptance and real effect that is not backed and supported, even promoted by Umno,” Kessler said.
“If change is to take hold, succeed and be generally accepted, then Umno must be part of its driving coalition. If not enthusiastically, even if reluctantly.”