Contest Umno presidency or form new party, analysts tell Ku Li

Analysts believe Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah should either run for the Umno presidency or form a new party instead of aiming to revive the “old 1946 Umno”.

(NST) – Given that it is unlikely Tengku Razaleigh would raise a 1988 case on the legality of Umno in court today, political pundits see his plan to revive the original Umno simply as the formation of a new party.

“Since there is no legal way to resurrect the old Umno, it sounds like his plan is to form a new party as he did in 1989. It is more like him trying to create a Semangat 46 2.0.

“Instead of devising such a plan, he could just challenge the current president (Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) or form a new party like he did with Semangat 46,” Professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia said.

Umno was declared illegal in 1988 and the then party president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad quickly registered a new party calling it Umno Baru. The word “Baru” was removed in September 1997 during a special Umno general assembly.

Geostrategist Professor Dr Azmi Hassan believed that any attempt to revisit history may open old wounds, which could prevent Umno from making the changes and progress that it needs.

“Whether it is old Umno, new Umno, or the current Umno, the members and the spirit remain the same.

“Although the leadership changes, the Umno spirit is still there, and creating new wounds won’t do anyone any good.

“To argue whether or not the High Court’s decision in 1988 (to declare Umno illegal) was valid is very academic right now, so he might as well challenge for the presidency if he is not satisfied with the leadership,” Azmi said.

Sivamurugan noted that while Tengku Razaleigh’s intention of getting Umno members to revisit its history to rejuvenate the party was noble, Umno needed to move forward to remain relevant in mainstream politics.

“The political ecosystem has changed a lot. Post-2018 showed us that Umno cannot use its traditional political tools to remain in power in the present time.

“But since Tengku Razaleigh is one of the few names that will be brought up whenever there is a national crisis, it is understandable why he is planning on doing something new to guarantee his position in mainstream politics.

“He does have sort of a legitimate authority in Malaysian politics and he is frustrated with the way things are because he has a vision of where Umno should be.

“Maybe he wants to overhaul the party, but Umno cannot win on its own. Umno needs to form collaborations in order to remain in the government,” he said.

On Tuesday, Tengku Razaleigh said that the original 1946 Umno, which the whole country thought was long gone, is still a legitimate party and that he is keen on reviving it.

Although legal experts said there was no way for him to bring the matter up to either the courts or the Registrar of Societies, Tengku Razaleigh said that he would meet the media soon to disclose more details of his plan after seeking his lawyers’ advice.