KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — The public’s perception of UMNO, especially towards the party leaders, needs to be improved to regain the people’s trust ahead of the 15th General Election (GE15), said UMNO vice-president Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.
He said the people knew UMNO’s track record in administering and developing the country, but many of them still had issues of trust in supporting the party.
“We (UMNO leaders) have to be seen that we have learned from what happened in GE14,” he told Bernama here.
May 9, 2018 was the day that witnessed Pakatan Harapan (PH) winning the GE14, thus ending the 61-year rule of Barisan Nasional (BN), which UMNO is the backbone party.
Asked about the debate among party members on party leaders facing charges in court which could hamper efforts to rebuild UMNO, Mahdzir said the matter should be handled rationally and wisely to avoid causing a split in the party.
He said UMNO had gone through various crises since its establishment nearly 75 years ago, including the deregistration of the party in 1988, establishment of the UMNO’s splinter Semangat 46 and the dismissal of the party’s deputy president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who later formed Parti Keadilan Rakyat ( PKR).
Hence, he said UMNO leaders and members should return to the basics of the party struggle in preserving the interests of the nation, as well as consultation to overcome current crisis.
He said the UMNO General Assembly on March 27 and 28 would be a platform for leaders and members to show their solidarity in setting the party’s direction in preparation for GE15, including on its cooperation with PAS and Bersatu.
Apart from that, he said UMNO should also offer a ‘new deal’ to the people who longed for change in line with current needs.
For example, he said, the country’s digitalisation effort was an important agenda that should be implemented comprehensively because quality internet access was now a necessity for the people.
“We have to convince the people that UMNO can do what they want and there is a new deal for them,” he added.
The Padang Terap Member of Parliament regarded the political pendulum as now swinging back to UMNO and BN after being rejected by the majority of the people in GE14.
“I don’t see in GE15 that the people will reject UMNO, but we want to see how strong the pendulum swings to UMNO and BN,” he added.
UMNO found its momentum again after winning seven of the 12 by-elections which were held after GE14, with the four early ones won by PH.
BN only got the winning streak after winning in the fifth by-election, which was for the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat in January 2019.