KUALA LUMPUR – November 29, 2016: Members of Wanita Umno have had to shift their campaign approach ever since the Pribumi Bersatu party entered the political fray a couple of months ago, with the task of countering ever move by the latter described as very challenging.
The changing political environment is now seen as requiring a more relevant, pragmatic and mature approach, with the opposition party formed by former Umno president Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said to be quite popular.
“It would be a mistake to assume that Pribumi Bersatu has little impact on Umno,” cautioned Mazmudah Mahmood of the Simpang Renggam Wanita wing when met at the Putra World Trade Centre today.
The 54-year-old seamstress who is attending the ongoing Umno general assembly has observed that some of Umno’s supporters have turned into fence-sitters with the existence of Pribumi Bersatu.
“We realise that the usual rhetoric is not going to win Umno massive support this time,” she said. “This time the opposition’s propaganda has been working well.”
She also observed that unlike in the past, the opposition’s propaganda is now being spread by former Umno members who have switched camps.
To win back support of the fence-sitters, especially in the rural areas, Mazmudah and another Wanita member from Jerai in Kedah, Norizan Abu Bakar, have had to rely on hard facts and figures.
“We did a lot of homework and it was hard. We started asking our wing and divisional leaders on how to effectively counter the frequently aired accusations made against Barisan Nasional, Umno and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak,” said Norizan.
Claiming that she is a self-proclaimed expert in her village on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad controversy, Norizan, who is a housewife, says that she no longer imposes her beliefs onto the fence-sitters.
“If I know I’m speaking to a neutral person then I will only lay out all the facts and let them think for themselves. It’s difficult but it works.”
Mazmudah and Norizan however cautioned those who want to follow this approach to be strong-willed, as they may face heavy criticisms from fellow party members.
“At first some leaders and members were quite cynical of me for asking a lot of tough questions that are usually asked by those in the opposition,” Mazmudah said, adding that some Wanita members had initially thought she was in cahoots with party rebels.
“If we shut our mouths then how are we supposed to explain to the people if they raised similar queries?” Norizan rhetorically asked.
“They have Tun Mahathir on their side and everyone in Umno knows that you cannot beat Tun with rhetoric alone,” she added.
Others who talked to The Mole today concurred with Mazmudah and Norizan that Umno members campaigning for the party need to employ the same approach to win back support from those who have turned neutral.
They also agree that it is harder but not impossible to do so as they believe that by being persistent they will be able to convince their target audience that Umno is still the best choice for the Malays and the rest of the country.