Ku Li warns Umno against playing down defection

By Adib Zalkapli (The Malaysian Insider)

Just days after Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Razak dismissed the possibility of more Barisan Nasional elected representatives crossing over to Pakatan Rakyat, Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said Umno's leadership must take seriously the defection of Perak state assemblyman Datuk Nasarudin Hashim to PKR.

"I do not think it is right for our leaders to play down the significance of our losing Nasarudin, or to belittle his intentions.

"That would be to make the same mistake as to play down the significance of our now being unable to win elections," said the Kelantan prince in his latest blog posting, adding that the action of the former Parit MP confirmed the suspicion that the Malay nationalist party continues to lose the people's support since the last general election.

"The results of the 12th general election were a blow, but what appears to have moved Dato' Nasarudin is what has happened, or rather has failed to happen, since then.

"The party continues to come apart and the government to lose support. Not a single effort at party reform has seen the light of day while tired leaders recycle tired formulas. Indeed the leadership is part of the problem," said Tengku Razaleigh.

He added that problems plaguing the party which led to the defection have transformed Umno beyond recognition.

"In a better day it was also a social movement inspired by ideals of service. As members we felt part of something larger than ourselves, part of a noble cause within which we formed many lasting friendships across the country.

"Today's party is barely recognisable to those who joined that party," said Tengku Razaleigh.

He urged Umno leaders to be open to ideas to institute change within the party.

"This is a painful process that can only be mediated by leaders of transparent character, who do not owe their authority to money," he said.

The defection of the Bota assemblyman to PKR just one week after BN's defeat in the Kuala Terengganu by-election has led to speculation that more lawmakers from the ruling coalition especially in Perak were crossing over to PR.

But many BN leaders have described Nasarudin's move as isolated and dismissed the possibility of more crossovers.