KUALA LUMPUR – June 26, 2018: TDatuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, the most senior elected Umno left to hold the fort after the heavy thumping of the Barisan Nasional in the May 9 general elections which saw the coalition booted out of the doors of power, has declared that it is his duty hold the fort of the bruised party.
“I can’t leave when the party is in a pinch. We did not have a deputy president and the only vice-presidents left were Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein and myself.
“Surely I cannot leave the party to the secretary-general (Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor,” quipped Zahid in an interview with The Mole.
Zahid is up against Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and two virtual unknowns in the contest to be Umno’s new president to be decided on Saturday after Datuk Seri Najib Razak quit his post after the polls.
Umno’s upper leadership line-up which was elected in the 2013 party election was essentially reduced to just Zahid and Hishamuddin after Datuk Seri Najib Razak stepped down from the Umno president’s post last month.
During the interview Zahid also addressed what he described as the fallacy in arguing that those who have a stint in the previous administration should not be contesting the party polls.
“We have to move forward and stop blaming others. No one is perfect. For example, there was this one leader who ruled Umno for two decades. Can anyone claim that there was not a single collateral damage under his watch?
“What we need now is unity because if we don’t have that, then the price we have to pay would be too costly, even more so when we are in need of drastic reforms,” said Zahid, Umno’s current acting president.
Replacing Barisan Nasional, which was formed by the late prime minister Tun Razak Hussein in 1973, with a slightly similar multi-racial coalition is among the revamps Zahid has given thought to.
“This is still being discussed with the higher ups in Umno and BN but as for now, the only certainty is that while BN uses a service-oriented approach, our future approach will be issue-oriented.
“We will keep a close watch on the present government’s ability to fulfil the first ten of their 100-day election promises,” said Zahid, adding that he was told certain sections of the community are experiencing voters’ remorse against Pakatan Harapan, now the ruling coalition.
The guilt, according to the feedback, stems from Pakatan’s failure to do away with the toll concessions, deferring student loan repayments and that prices of essential items have not decreased although the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been abolished.
However, the revamp which Zahid spoke with the most gusto was his plan to do a complete overhaul of Umno’s communications and cyberwarfare efforts.
“There is no unity of the mind among our teams as most worked in silos and they also tended to follow the whims of their political masters instead of doing what was right for the party.
“I want to solve this issue so that we can have a unified and formidable team. So I’m pleading to all delegates who will be voting this Saturday to help me realise the reforms I envisioned because I cannot fullfil them on my own,” he said.