Sunday, January 25, 2009


by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah @
January 25, 2009 at 6:06 am

I have long said that UMNO and the BN must change fundamentally or become irrelevant. That change cannot wait, as one General Election and two bye-elections have shown us. The proposals I made last year to democratize and clean up the party were opposed by its leadership. I called for the Party to hold an EGM to reflect together upon the meaning of its losses at the Election and I proposed that we remove quotas for nomination, and scrap the delegate system in favour of direct election to key positions. I said that the party needs to be democratised, after which key party positions should be separated from government office.

Yesterday, we heard from the Prime Minister, all the way from Dubai, about when he thinks the process of change will begin:

“Umno would institute changes and a renewal to strengthen the party after its new leadership takes over following the party elections in March….we will go ahead with the elections and let the new leadership institute the necessary changes”

We are told that all that has been done so far to effect change is to “compile all the proposals on renewal measures from an Umno retreat and several discussion sessions," that is to say, not much. It’s nice to compile ideas, but change requires hard decisions and leadership.

So the entire hope of change in Umno is now laid at the feet of the leadership that the party elections will yield at the end of March.

They shall carry all hope of Umno’s renewal.

* * *

But what if the leadership is the problem?

Suppose the party elections that are supposed to elect the saviours of the party is part of the problem– a process that our members no longer even pretend to believe is open, fair or clean?


Think about what the voters rejected at Kuala Terengganu.

It wasn’t the candidate. This wasn’t a referendum on the Prime Minister or his Deputy. This wasn’t about individuals at all.

It was Umno they rejected, with its methods, its assumptions and habits and ingrained ways, and the entire leadership that brought Umno to this state.

Now think who these voters are.

The Malay voters who swung to the Opposition, the Chinese and Indian voters who waved PAS flags, the young who now reflexively reject Umno and BN, and whose swelling numbers will decide the election in 2013.

And think forward and ask if it is possible to imagine that the March elections will give us the leadership we need for these extraordinary times.

If we care about this country we should be asking fundamental questions. ---Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah

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