Zahid a liability to BN-PH, should step down, says analyst

Kartini Aboo Talib of UKM believes Umno supporters want the party to rise again, but do not like Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s leadership style.

(FMT) – Ahmad Zahid Hamidi should step down as the Umno president as he is a liability to Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan, says a political analyst.

Kartini Aboo Talib of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said internal conflicts within Umno over Zahid led to party grassroots voting for Perikatan Nasional in the six state elections on Saturday.

This led to BN’s dismal performance at the polls, winning only 19 of the 108 seats it contested in all six states.

Kartini Aboo Talib.

Kartini told FMT that Zahid must be the “bigger man” and willing to step down honourably to restore Umno’s standing among its supporters and voters.

“Umno needs to eliminate the ‘toxins’ within the party, be ready to implement internal reforms and give new leaders the chance to lead the party,” she said.

She said Sembrong MP Hishammuddin Hussein could take on the mammoth task of leading the party.

Hishammuddin, the former BN treasurer-general, is among several Umno leaders who have been suspended from Umno for six years for breaching party discipline.

Kartini said she does not think Umno is approaching its demise despite predictions, adding that the BN lynchpin still had three million members “waiting for the party’s resurgence”.

“The reality is that many of its members are disappointed with the current party leadership. But they still want Umno to rise again and return to its roots,” she said.

Hisommudin Bakar.

Meanwhile, Ilham Centre executive director Hisommudin Bakar said Umno will struggle to come back stronger with Zahid still at the helm. He said there is a “crisis of confidence” in Zahid’s leadership style.

He said the think tank found a swing in support from BN to PN because of Zahid, describing it as a “changing of hands in Malay political power”.

“This is the reality that Umno needs to accept. Umno and the other parties in the government only managed to garner 25% of Malay votes, with most of that coming from Negeri Sembilan and the urban parts of Selangor,” he said.

Hisommudin said that moving forward, Umno has no choice but to work hard to regain Malay support. Failure to do so would mean that it will suffer the same fate as MCA and MIC in being rejected by the communities they represent.