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COMMENTARY, March 29 — Umno has already lost the war as shown in its just concluded annual general assembly (AGM), which ended the doubts of some delegates and observers outside the great hall of Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), the iconic party building.
The assembly did not conclude in anything new and left all issues dangling, with the party’s political enemies smiling as they already know what the biggest Malay party will be doing and when.
Umno or in short its commander-in-chief who is the party president failed to create fear in the hearts and minds of its present arch enemy, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), under whose umbrella it is taking shelter.
Umno failed to take the element of surprise that is the most crucial in any war, failed to act swiftly to take the enemy off-balance, failed to get rid of its so-called traitors from within and who will give the enemy all the secrets needed, created more enemies than just focusing on one and making friends with the rest, failed to rally all party leaders to act as one force, and more.
Umno’s inaction or slow action in its attempt to return into the country’s political mainstream with a big bang in the coming general election may cost it more than it has planned to achieve.
In short, Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is not meticulous in his war strategy, does not listen to his generals and does not read Sun Szu’s Art of War.
The party’s assembly, the last before the coming general election, was supposed to detail every strategy it needs and strike immediately to have the mileage and attract the would-be voters, in particular the Malays, but it failed to do just that.
The party deputy president, Datuk Seri Mohammad Hassan, had set the tone and pace on the first day when he launched the Youth, Women and Puteri wings’ assemblies but Zahid failed to further fuel the already built momentum.
Popularly known as Tok Mat, Mohammad had used an analogy of the famous silat pulut, a Malay art of self defence displayed at wedding events to create excitement for the marriage but in which no one will be hurt.
He also put up an analogy of elephants that, when angry, will not exhibit their power but run amok and destroy whatever was in their path, which the party president failed to pick up on.
Tok Mat had also called for immediate action against the so-called traitors from within who will undermine the party’s strength given the time.
Instead of adding fuel, Zahid set a timeline for action, August that is some five months away, which gives Bersatu and now PAS time to prepare for any “attack” as the element of surprise is already lost.
The worst part is some of Umno’s “generals” are under the “shelter” of Bersatu’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) and they are vulnerable to any influence while in the Cabinet rather than acting as spies for Zahid.
The delayed action gives time for Bersatu and PAS to build up their defences and plan attacks on Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) although the latter is known to have the largest political “army”.
Zahid also failed to act against those he labelled as traitors in the party and who are influential in their ways and can further influence more supporters from within which will erode the party’s strength.
Zahid failed to cut ties with PAS as he still attempted to pull PAS to Umno’s side,which indirectly created another enemy aside from Bersatu.
From within, the debate showed not all states followed his mind to disassociate or cut ties with Bersatu as the liaison chiefs voiced the need to work together to win the war, not just for Umno but for PN.
In short, the assembly did not achieve anything if the objective is war but instead it showed that Umno is not ready unless the party changes its president to someone who is action oriented and not just a leader who fears or is hesitant to act.