KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa asserted that his party is embarking on serious reforms following its 14th general election defeat.
But he said the party’s “bad habits” were not disappearing, claiming that the rival Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) was picking up negative practices the Malay nationalist party was trying to discard.
He claimed this was because PPBM largely comprised former Umno leaders who left prior to this supposed renewal.
“Now that they are the party in power, the appetite has come back, you see. So I can see that the culture in Bersatu is going to be very bad,” the Ketereh MP told Malay Mail in a recent interview.
PPBM vice-president Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman had demonstrated this during the party’s annual assembly in December, when he called for government contracts to be allocated to division leaders.
The former Election Commission chairman said it was “stupid” to not do so and insisted the party must win elections “by any means necessary”; PPBM chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad later dismissed these as Rashid’s personal opinion.
While Annuar accepted that such “bad habits” had been rife in Umno before, he insisted that his party now knows the cost in terms of public perception.
The former minister added that Umno must genuinely rid itself of these abuses and not pay only lip service to reforms.
Umno must realise that such habits had caused it to lose “everything” after over six decades of power and that it was now “just like any other small political party”, he explained.
Both the party and the larger Barisan Nasional must also courageously confront these problems and embrace true change.
“For example, people perceive Umno as one that practises money politics, warlord politics, corruption. This we must really clean up,” Annuar added.
However, Annuar stressed that meaningful reforms were not instantaneous and would take both time and political will.
Until these reforms take root, he said the party would still undergo the normal renewal take occurs during internal polls.
“One of the ways is the natural process of party election, and we hope the members choose leaders at different levels, with a new set of value system,” he said.
Umno elected former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to replace Datuk Seri Najib Razak as president after the latter resigned following the general election defeat.
Zahid has temporarily stepped aside to hand control of the party to acting president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.