Umno on the brink of falling further apart as factions squabble

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Six Umno MP’s are said to be on the way out and are supporting former Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to form a new political party.

The breakaway group is said to include other former ministers, said a Facebook post related to the Pakatan Harapan.

While the rumours cannot be confirmed due to the chaos that has emerged within the Umno after its stunning defeat in the last General Elections (GE14), it is, however, certain that the party is going through tougher times.

Ill-prepared to function as an opposition party, abandoned by most of the component parties that formed the Barisan Nasional or BN that was under the tight grip of the Umno, the party seems to driverless. There is a complete absence of leadership.

However, one can sense that ex-PM Najib Razak is still the man pulling the strings in the party. He has outgrown the traditional ‘warlords’, say analysts, who mention the fact that Zahid Hamidi is the new party president as evidence of Najib’s clout in the Umno of today.

However, many among the party are denying claims they form part of the famous ‘warlords’ who runs the affairs of the party.

The warlords are said to be powerful enough to decide who should be the leader or who should hold positions within the Malay party. Najib is still wanted by Umno members, and talks of getting rid of those who spoke against him after the desastrous elections in May are rife within the party corridors.

But the fact remains that over the years, some of the long-serving Umno division leaders and the strong men who gyrated within the corridors of power at the government house in Kuala Lumpur or Putrajaya, are de-facto known as ‘warlords’.

A recent article in Today’s paper said division chiefs have denied that they control their members with an iron fist or that they held sway during the recent party polls.

But Monday’s event at the Parliament is a crude example of how the ‘warlords’ operate and who they answer to.

It is possible that the new Umno chief Zahid Hamidi is still kowtowing to Najib who holds a lot of sway among party members.

But the party has never been that fragmented.

During the Anwar Ibrahim days as the firebrand Umno leader under PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the party was divided between both iconic leaders with Former PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi emerging as a potential leader.

There were ramifications within the party, with Anwar’s supporters ganging against Abdullah’s supporters and disagreements were sometimes settled in an unconventional manner.

Anwar’s moves as Minister of Finance was at times ridiculed by Abdullah’s supporters and it was clear that a tug-of-war for power was playing out between both camps.

When the time came to choose, the Abdullah camp voted with the Mahathir camp to oust Anwar from the party and from the government. That was the start of the ‘reformasi’ movement in Malaysia.

While the Umno missed out on the real reforms needed in Malaysia, the party is now crumbling apart with Khairy leading his own group and Najib controlling the base.

The rest of the party is basically headless, albeit for the group that still believe in failed presidential candidate Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Khairy is however leading an opposition force within the party. This is not well viewed by the current leadership, used to their non-opposed stint when the party was in power.

There are still those who believe a fresh face should lead the party, but they are in the minority though they weighed in favour of Khairy during the Umno polls where the latter was narrowly defeated by Zahid.

The party is also divided at the state level. The leaders of the party in each and every states in peninsula Malaysia does not necessarily see eye-to-eye nor do they automatically support Najib.

Khairy is on a mission, but the mission is stuck in division among the party on its next move to rehabilitate its lost glory while it is still licking its wounds.He has called on delegates to throw away the current Umno leadership. He has also called the members to get rid of the entrenched “warlords”.

But the warlords and the leadership is battling hard to keep him at ground zero.
They do not want his influence on the party members, though he is growing in respect among party supporters for not joining the party’s MP’s in the Monday’s walkout from the August Parliament.