PETALING JAYA,Mar 27: Umno has seen its greatest days in the 70s and 80s and probably its worst days in the past few years, but one thing is certain for the 74-year-old party – it cannot afford to be stuck in the past.
Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan knows that well and he has a vision for Umno to be an ideas-based party and one that embraces new knowledge.
In an interview with FMT, Mohamad said Umno was a party that must evolve with the times.
“I want Umno to be an ideas-based party, a party that welcomes knowledge, and people with knowledge, not a party stuck in the 1970s and 1980s.
“Umno needs experts, people with expertise so we can take the party to greater heights,” he said when asked about reforms he would like to see in Umno.
Mohamad, commonly known as Tok Mat, was elected deputy president after Umno’s fall from power in 2018.
He said the party has gone through a lot of reform in the past three years, including drastic amendments to its constitution.
One key reform was the removal of numerous impediments to anyone wanting to contest the presidency, including the requirement that the candidate be a Supreme Council member and have the support of 30% of divisions.
“That was not a good restriction for the party. Now, anyone who wants to contest can do so. Just fill a form, name your supporter and seconder.”
He said another key reform was the opening up of the voting for top posts to grassroot members instead of limiting it to just seven leaders from each division.
“That (rule) exposed Umno to bad habits, money politics became widespread.”
Now more than 200,000 delegates will get a say on the leadership they want.
Another reform is the decentralisation of power from the party’s headquarters to state chapters, including disciplinary issues.
He also said that in the case of Sabah Umno, the chapter had been given autonomy in administrative matters, including the decision on the candidates for last year’s state election and in the formation of the state government.
On calls for fresh faces in the party’s hierarchy, Mohamad said that Umno did add value by bringing in new leaders from time to time.
With the party set to hold elections this year, Mohamad said he hoped more young leaders would contest.
“Don’t run, step into the ring. Offer yourself now that it’s easy to contest at any level,” he told the youth in the party. “People like me will pass down leadership to younger people. However, if there are none, who will we give it to?”
He said he did not want to see a situation where there was a lack of leadership. In the past, he said, the country had many old leaders and some very young ones, but few in between.
“Sometimes, there were promising young leaders but they were sidelined. Now, we don’t have such practices.”