Reforms in Umno can lead to stable new govt, say analysts

PETALING JAYA: The first step to the formation of a more stable government after the next general election starts with Umno reforming itself, according to a political analyst.

Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Pawi said a reformed Umno led by leaders with integrity would make Pakatan Harapan more willing to work with the party post-GE15.

Awang Azman added that an Umno-DAP government would be good for the nation as it would reflect the reality of Malaysia’s multiracial society, with no race left out in the formation of the government.

“Hence, the government will be much more stable and strong,” he told FMT.

Commenting on Umno elections director Tajuddin Abdul Rahman saying his party could work with DAP if it adopted a “more moderate” approach, Awang Azman said Umno should be the one to reform itself first.

“Reforming the party is the joint responsibility of all Umno members, from normal members to the top leadership. Starting off the process of reform in Umno isn’t just dependent on certain leaders,” he said.

He added that there were no lasting friends or enemies in politics, but what mattered in political cooperation was that both sides should have a “common interest”.

“As long as they have the common interest of being in power and forming the government, then PH would be willing to work with a reformed Umno, especially after GE15.”

Political scientist Wong Chin Huat said an Umno-DAP tie-up must be based on reforms as any cooperation without a common issue to bridge both parties would invite backlash from their grassroots.

He told FMT that the two parties could test the waters by jointly championing a reform-related issue, such as the reopening of Parliament.

“The change of government in Perak last December with a confidence and supply agreement is a successful example,” he said, referring to how Umno took over the state’s menteri besar post from PPBM with the help of PH assemblymen.

He said leaders who wanted to be the face of Umno’s campaign for reforms should be free of court cases while possessing the vision and will to bring the party from “narrow nationalism” to pragmatic policymaking.

The best leaders to forge the path include Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan, Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said, information chief Shahril Hamdan and Johor menteri besar Hasni Mohammad, he said.

Wong said an Umno-DAP alliance would almost guarantee short-term stability in the government due to the absence of clashes for seats, with both parties vying for different voter bases.

But he said the key issue determining long-term benefits to the nation would depend on whether they kept politics open and competitive.

In a webinar yesterday, several Umno leaders said the current political crisis was an opportunity for their party to revamp its image and lead the fight for political reforms.

Umno Supreme Council member Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the current political chaos was a “tipping point” for the party to include some serious political reforms in its manifesto for GE15.

Wong, who was also part of the forum, had said it was a “good sign” that mainstream Umno leaders were now talking about political reforms, when it used to only come from splinter parties like Semangat 46, PKR and PPBM.


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