Didn’t you amend Umno’s constitution twice, Shahril asks Dr M

Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had criticised Umno for amending its constitution on Sunday, was reminded today that he had made two amendments in the 1980s when he was party president.

(FMT) – Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan said Mahathir in 1987 had introduced bonus votes for the incumbent Umno president and deputy president when seeking re-election.

A year later, Mahathir introduced a quota system for elections to the party’s top leadership positions, Shahril said.

“Does this mean that at that time, the leadership did not respect the constitution?” he said in response to Mahathir’s claim that Umno members had shown disrespect for the party constitution by voting unanimously on Sunday on a constitutional amendment.

The amendment allows Umno to postpone party elections until after a general election.

Shahril said there was no need for Umno to justify its decision to a political rival. (Mahathir left Umno in 2016 to form Bersatu, and left Bersatu in 2020 to form Pejuang.)

He said a party’s constitution could be amended as and when the party chose to do so, as long as it did not contravene the party’s ideals.

Shahril said the Federal Constitution was amended 23 times during Mahathir’s first stint as prime minister (1981-2003), including controversial amendments about royal sovereignty which sparked a constitutional crisis.

During Mahathir’s second stint (2018-2020) the Federal Constitution was amended once, he said. “Does this mean he does not respect the country’s constitution?”

Shahril said making amendments to a party’s constitution was better than to have someone jumping ship numerous times, in an apparent jibe at Mahathir’s moves from Umno to Bersatu and then to Pejuang.

Umno’s recent constitutional amendment allows the party to postpone its elections for up to six months after a general election, or up to 18 months from the end of an election term, whichever comes later.

The bonus and quota system introduced by Mahathir were abolished by an Umno constitutional amendment in 2009. Under the current system, Umno divisions are able to vote directly for top leadership positions.

In an immediate response to Shahril’s remarks, a Pejuang leader acknowledged that amendments were made in the past but questioned Umno’s motive in making the current amendment.

Muhammad Rafique, the deputy chief for the Federal Territory, accused Umno of doing so to allow certain persons to remain in power.