Muhyiddin: We have lost the ‘wow’ factor

(Bernama) — In a frank analysis of what ails Umno in the wake of Barisan Nasional's (BN) defeat in the Kuala Terengganu by-election, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the party has lost the "wow" factor that would pull people to the coalition's backbone party.

Muhyiddin, the international trade and industry minister and Umno vice-president, said there was a need to bring it back because having the wow factor would mean that people would sit up and take notice of something new and interesting that the party was conveying.

"Currently, in Umno, what's the wow factor? There is no wow factor. We have lost the wow factor that would make people say 'I really want to listen to what the leaders are saying'," he told Malaysian journalists when asked to comment on the by-election on Saturday, in which Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut of PAS beat BN's Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh by 2,631 votes.

Muhyiddin stressed the necessity for Umno and BN to reinvent themselves to fulfil the people's aspirations without sacrificing Umno's principles and struggle.

"Party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his designated successor, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, would need to institute a radical change, a political surgery, if you will," he said.

He said it would be well and good to conduct a post-mortem to ascertain weaknesses that contributed to the electoral defeat in Kuala Terengganu but what was more important was to dig deeper into the minds of voters.

"There are bound to be weaknesses in any by-election despite the party machinery having gone full throttle. But maybe this is a signal that must be taken seriously," he said.

"Does it mean that the people still find it hard to accept the BN after we lost in the last general election because they don't feel that there has been any change or reform as promised?"

Muhyiddin said that for this reason, the BN and Umno especially should not take too long to implement the reforms that they had promised.

The important thing was for Umno and the BN to tackle certain perceptions in the voters' minds.

"Mention Umno or the BN and that's the perception the people have, and this is twisted by the opposition parties," he said.

"We also cannot discount the possibility that our citizens now have a better grasp of things, are more sensitive and are able to make assessments from all angles.

"Maybe we are seen as not being ready to accommodate what they think is good."

He said Umno and the BN should be willing to act more radically in implementing the necessary changes.

Muhyiddin stressed that certain statements had to be made so that the people would understand the reforms that Umno and the BN intended to bring.

"Otherwise, they will regard our statements as rhetoric. I'm more inclined to analyse the by-election results from a more holistic perspective although we can identify the cause of the defeat the normal way, like ineffective election machinery despite the hard work, the choice of candidate and the issues raised by the Opposition," he said. — The Sun