PENANG: Umno leaders here and in Kedah have told the party management committee that the leadership needs to be changed in order to save the party. The 250 division, Wanita, Youth and Puteri leaders in Kedah at a meeting held in Sungai Petani even went as far as to suggest who should take over as the party’s number one and number two.
“Umno is running out of time and a change is needed soon,” said a party member who was at the closed-door meeting yesterday.
The three-hour meeting was conducted by the party’s management committee headed by Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. It is part of a post-mortem exercise undertaken by the party after the poor showing in the March 8 general election.Another division chief said it was a free-for-all session and the committee told them to speak frankly. Some leaders also called on party leaders to stop “attacking” Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and for the committee to end the “expose” against the former Prime Minister in the media.
Later at a similar meeting at the Penang Umno building, the management committee was also told of the unhappiness of members there with the current leadership. The leaders from the 13 divisions told the committee that the Barisan did badly because the people, especially the Malays, had swung to the Opposition as they felt that Umno leaders had lost touch with the grassroots.
“The divisional leaders called for new blood in the leadership and that the party needed someone who could bring back the Malay support. “Most division leaders wanted the leadership to be transparent and to consult the divisions when choosing candidates in the election. They did not want 'parachute' candidates.“The management committee only came to meet us when damage had already been done,” said one leader.
A state leader said the local leaders also wanted the leadership to take PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim seriously. “It is a serious matter when PKR said it could form the government within six months,” he said.
Another leader also questioned why the leadership wanted to take action against members for alleged sabotage because party grassroots had actually worked hard during the elections.
“The people rejected Umno,” he said. “It is better for our leaders to close ranks than go on a witch hunt.”">(The Star :Friday April 11, 2008)