KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has called on Umno delegates to be critical and speak their minds at the general assembly which begins today if the party is to survive and move forward.
He said Umno members must be brave in openly criticising their leaders, including their presidents, said Dr Mahathir, who was at one time the party’s longest serving president.
“Everyone knows that Umno now is not as popular as before. There are those who say Umno is not relevant. If Umno is defeated and wiped off the face of the earth, its leaders and members cannot deny that they had contributed to the downfall of the party that has done a lot for the Malays and Malaysia,” said Dr Mahathir in a posting in his blog chedet.cc.
Dr Mahathir has staunchly criticised Umno members in the past and has gone on record withdrawing his support for party president and prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. He said he did this after his recommendations to Najib fell on deaf ears.
Dr Mahathir’s most recent criticism was aimed at Najib’s policy of giving out cash transfers such as the People’s Aid Scheme and his management of debt-ridden sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd. In calling for Umno members to be critical, Dr Mahathir said he himself had been openly criticised and even came close to losing the presidency.
The same, he said, happened to Umno’s first president Tunku Abdul Rahman, and his successors, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Hussein Onn.
“Without criticism, leaders will believe everything they do is correct. But in reality, it may be wrong.”
Dr Mahathir also said the “warlord culture” among Umno branch and division leaders corrupted the party to the point where bright and talented members got sidelined.
This has led to the party’s grassroots structure being dominated by mediocre leaders, he said.
“Umno only accepts new members who do not threaten the position of their leaders at all levels. Branches do not accept those who can challenge the position of branch leaders. This is because there are rewards for being branch leaders.
“These branch leaders are then only replaced by weaker and mediocre successors as they are the only type of people the leadership accepts.
“That is why when the question crops up, ‘Who will be Selangor menteri besar if Barisan Nasional wins?; there is no answer ... even though Selangor is full of educated and talented Malays who do not have to use Umno to enrich themselves.
“These people are barred from entering Umno. Those who make it in are barred from climbing up as leaders.
“Because of this disappointment, those who have talent are going into other parties. Umno will fade and this sacred party will fade away.” — The Malaysian Insider
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 26, 2014.