KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — The elitism and arrogance of Umno’s leadership was a pivotal factor in turning urban-based youths from the rural areas against BN and cost it the GE14, said Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
The Umno stalwart explained that many of these youths worked in urban centres due to better employment opportunities, yet still retained a sense of identity of their rural origins.
“They still go back to their villages for the festive season, and more importantly remain registered to vote there as well,” he said during the launch of his book The End of Umno? New and Expanded Post-GE14 Edition.
Tengku Razaleigh, fondly known as Ku Li, said the past two general elections have seen considerable turnout of these youths returning home to vote.
“Living and working in the cities, they perceived Umno’s leaders as overbearing and elitist. In particular they are very angry at the lack of democracy in the party.
“They tend to feel that they are constantly dictated to (by the leaders) yet can never freely voice their thoughts and opinions at Umno-organised forums and events,” he said.
Due to this, he said the youths found other ways to express their dissatisfactions.
“Speaking for the East Coast, I can say many of them votes for PAS since they viewed the party as being more open (to criticism and speaking out),” said the parliamentarian for Gua Musang, Kelantan.
Unless Umno’s current crop of leaders change their ways, Tengku Razaleigh said this slide among youths will continue further.
The book’s editor Bridget Welsh said five core seats were identified as being Umno strongholds for the past five general elections.
“Over time you could see the erosion of political support (for the seats) was very acute, particularly in the last two general elections.
“A lot of this was due to defections from Umno’s own political base; cores who had for decades supported the party,” she said.
In contrast to the older generation of members, the number of younger Umno members leaving the party is more pronounced.
“Their levels are much higher, and such warning signals have been around for quite some time and not just immediately before the last general election,” Welsh said.