Commentary Politics

Umno GA: Zahid’s tight ship and the elephant the party refuses to see

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

December 7, 2019

A commentary by Zaidi Azmi

UNLIKE in 2018, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had it easy at this year’s assembly as there was no visible enmity or dissatisfaction being acted against him by delegates.

It was a stark contrast to last year’s flurry of tacit salvos hurled at him over a controversial proposal for a unity government with Pakatan Harapan that he mooted in the run-up to the annual get-together.

And this year, Zahid did the exact same thing as his then-detractors.

In his policy speech yesterday, Zahid needled on certain people in Umno who had been engaging Pakatan leaders to enact a backdoor deal in a bid to strengthen the position of Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

Today, in his keynote address he vowed this: “God willing…we [the leaders of Umno] have unanimously agreed that we will only use the front door to form a government.”

Ah, perhaps Zahid had really learnt his lesson last year.

Buoyed by support and glee from winning four of five by-elections this year, morale among Umno members and leaders is high, which in turn is good for Zahid’s presidency.

To be seen that he is in total control — the undisputed captain of Umno to be precise — is crucial for Zahid, given his ongoing court case that critics deem to be heavily unfavourable to him.

But as to what should Umno do with him, in the event he is found guilty, is an elephant which delegates just simply refused to see. 

The closest to what can be construed as a gentle rejoinder, from a prominent party leader, on how Umno needs to be seen as a dignified party, free from encumbrances, was remarked by number two Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

“A prosperous country and race must be led by leaders with impeccable moral. It must not be led, even for a second, by those with questionable morality. Malaysia deserves a Malay leadership that is just, humble and pious,” said Mohamad when he opened the Youth and Wanita assemblies on Wednesday.

One could argue that behind closed doors is where such a sensitive matter should be discussed but to show the public that Umno delegates are not oblivious to matters that could further impair its already-dented image would surely negate the notion that the party is still trapped in its own echo chamber.

After all, politics is also a game of optics.

The poser on what should Umno do with Zahid was posed to many high-ranking party leaders at the foyer of the PWTC. None was willing to spare their two cents, even under anonymity.

Those in the know however said the party is still in a precarious state and that many are unwilling to do or be seen as doing anything that could potentially upset its newfound equilibrium.

“They don’t want to rock the boat,” said a division member from a state up north.

Oh my, what an interesting position to adopt.

As it is, Umno is still lucky, as the largest party in Pakatan, PKR, is currently facing an even damning drama; that of betrayal, political ambition and carnal desires.

But the off-putting aspect of luck is that it tends to eventually run out.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

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