A Youth’s Take – A weekly column by Zaidi Azmi
FOR reasons that should have been obvious to many, there was hardly anything new at this week’s Umno annual general assembly.
Everything was rather predictable, including party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s rhetoric in his winding up speech Saturday.
Like last year, Najib, after lampooning his ex-boss-cum-harshest-critic Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, called on members to stay united and intensify their campaigns for next year’s general elections.
The only thing that was a tad interesting was a seemingly vague political manoeuvring concerning the party’s top three posts.
“We have settled our leadership matters. Number 1, 2 and 3 everything is settled… Datuk Hisham (Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein) is number 3. Done deal,” said Najib.
Wait, what? Was not the sole agenda for this year’s meeting supposed to be about Umno’s preparations for the general elections?
Even more peculiar was the two-years-in-a-row declaration of absolute loyalty to Najib by party number two Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi.
Umno now has a “diva”
But alas, the most eyebrow-raising highlight of the five-day meeting was when flamboyant entertainer Mohamed Azwan Ali sashayed his way into Putra World Trade Centre, the venue of the assembly.
Donning his signature black framed oval shades and a figure-hugging red robe, Azwan, dubbed by fans as Diva AA dropped a bombshell – he has joined Umno.
Shortly after, he dropped another – he will contest against his older brother, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin of PKR in the latter’s state constituency of Bukit Antarabangsa.
The next day he got into a cat-fight with well-known singer of some years ago, Datuk Sheila Majid, in which he told her to go to hell after the latter tweeted about her disappointment with the Malaysian government.
A diva indeed…maybe.
“He’s our secret weapon against Azmin,” said Sungar Besar Umno division chief Datuk Seri Jamal Md. Yunos.
It may be true but it is highly unlikely that the amount of selfie requests, no matter how many one gets, denotes one’s political clout.
Besides, most social media-savvy youths knows that Diva AA is usually famous for all the wrong reasons.
Umno’s conundrum with the youths
Speaking of political clout among the youths, there seems to be mixed views on the effectiveness of Umno’s youth-wooing campaigns.
Where Wangsa Maju Puteri wing vice-president Zurfaedah Zulkifli spoke glowingly about the youths’ participation in the wing’s outdoor activities, Bentong Wanita member Rodziah Abdul Halim said the opposite.
“The way I see it, youths are more interested in their smartphones, social media and video games compared to futsal and volleyball matches,” said Rodziah, who claimed to be a part of her wing’s voter behaviour research team.
Rodziah’s worry may holds water as polling agency, Merdeka Centre, has pointed out that the youths disliked both the government and the opposition.
Plus, Umno’s wings of the young, Puteri and Pemuda, have a history in being out of touch with Malaysian youths.
For example, its Youth wing could have scored some brownie points had it protested against the indiscriminate blockade of an online video game bazaar simply because the Multimedia Communications and Multimedia Commission did not want Malaysians to purchase and play a Jesus-VS-Budha fighting game.
Why the commission didn’t contact the bazaar and request them to not sell it to Malaysian players due to religious sensitivities concerns, is as good as anybody’s guess.
If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.