Commentary Politics

Umno 2018 election: Not entirely business as usual

The new faces of Umno: (left) Khaidirah Abu Zahar (Supreme Council member), Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki (Umno Youth chief), Datuk Zahida Zarik Khan (Umno Puteri chief), Datuk Dr. Noraini Ahmad (Umno Wanita chief), Suraya Yaakob (Supreme Council member), Shahril Hamdan (Umno Youth deputy chief).

The new faces of Umno: (left) Khaidirah Abu Zahar (Supreme Council member), Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki (Umno Youth chief), Datuk Zahida Zarik Khan (Umno Puteri chief), Datuk Dr. Noraini Ahmad (Umno Wanita chief), Suraya Yaakob (Supreme Council member), Shahril Hamdan (Umno Youth deputy chief).

July 4 2018

WHEN Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was announced the new Umno president, critics believed that the party will not be able to undergo a much needed change.

The reason? It was a mixture of Zahid’s high-ranking stint with the previous leadership line-up and the defeat of his leading contender, the relatively young and savvy Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar at the June 30 party polls.

Umno’s seeming resistance to change was further reinforced after Khairy took to twitter in claiming the warlords in the party had played a decisive role in the outcome of the party polls.

“People are free to give their own views but we have to respect the delegates who voted. They were the ones who made the choices,” said the new head of Umno’s Women wing, Datuk Noraini Ahmad.

“Zahid has always been there for Umno. He was incarcerated  under the ISA (Internal Security Act) but he never left Umno and when we lost the election for the first time, he continued to stay with Umno,” she added.

While the fact that two of Umno’s newly-minted vice-presidents are essentially senior leaders seemed to lend credence to Khairy’s claim, those who sift through the overall results of the party polls would beg to differ.

For starters, 48 per cent of the newly-elected 23 members of Umno’s supreme council are mostly new faces who never held high-ranking posts in previous Umno leadership line-up.

Number of Seats

Previous Supreme Council Members

New Supreme Council Members

1.     

Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed

Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed

2.     

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir

3.     

Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom

Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom

4.     

Datuk Seri Idris Haron

Datuk Lokman Noor Adam

5.     

Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh

Datuk Md Alwi Che Ahmad

6.     

Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek

Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek

7.     

Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim

Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim

8.     

Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan

Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan

9.     

Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim

Tan Sri Noh Omar

10. 

Datuk Seri Hasan Malek

Fathul Bari Mat Jahya

11. 

Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan

Azian Osman

12. 

Datuk Razali Ibrahim

Datuk Razali Ibrahim

13. 

Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid

Khaidirah Abu Zahar

14. 

Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin

Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin

15. 

Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman

Datuk Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub

16. 

Datuk Puad Zarkashi

Jalaluddin Alias

17. 

Datuk Seri Azalina Othman

Datuk Seri Azalina Othman

18. 

Datuk Seri Abdul Latiff Ahmad

Hasni Mohammad

19. 

Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah

Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah

20. 

Datuk Seri Bung Mokhtar Radin

Datuk Seri Bung Mokhtar Radin

21. 

Datuk Ab. Aziz Kaprawi

Zahidi Zainul Abidin

22. 

Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican

Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican

23. 

Datuk Sohamimi Shahadan

Datuk Suraya Yaacob

(The names in bold and italic are new members of the Supreme Council)

With the exception of Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim and Datuk Seri Bung Mokhtar Radin, those who retained their seats in the council were mostly leaders who were not known to stir up any notable controversies.

And while his stint with the supreme council since 2009 may qualify Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed as an Umno warlord, surely no one – be it inside or outside of Umno– would complain about his recent tenure in the council.

“You cannot just replace every senior leader with newer ones. There must a balanced continuity. The changes are coming through but it cannot be done abruptly,” said newly-minted supreme council member Datuk Suraya Yaakob.

The rise of new faces in Umno’s leadership was even more telling with the new line-up of Umno’s Youth, Puteri and Women’s wing where those who have won their respective wings’ top posts were nationally unfamiliar figures.

For example, the Youth’s newly-elected deputy chief is Shahril Hamdan, who only became an overnight sensation after his epic debate with newly-minted Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman last year.

It is still anybody’s guess whether having a greater representation of new faces on the lower-end of the party’s upper echelon will enable Umno to turn over a new leaf.

And while critics on social media were mostly disappointed with result of the party polls, at least the new faces who won the post were optimistic over the prospect of Umno’s much needed changes.

“I don’t think the leaders can afford to not listen to the grassroots this time. The last time they did that we ended up losing the general election,” said newly-elected Umno Puteri wing executive committee member Puteri Farhana Megat Ahmad Shahrani.

“This time there will be changes because the leadership line-up is being filled with new faces from top to bottom. It is unfair to use Zahid’s presidency as the sole reason to claim that Umno will not be able change,” she added.

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Zaidi Azmi and Ahirul Ahirudin