Zahid’s DNAA not a victory for Umno, says party man

Wan Agyl Wan Hassan says the party needs to undergo comprehensive reforms if it wants to regain the rakyat’s support.

(FMT) – An Umno Youth leader has cautioned the party’s members against viewing Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s conditional discharge from a graft case he was facing as a “win” for the Barisan Nasional lynchpin.

On Monday, Zahid was granted a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) over 47 charges of corruption, criminal breach of trust and money laundering in his Yayasan Akalbudi case.

However, Umno Youth permanent chairman Wan Agyl Wan Hassan said that while some members may see the outcome of the case as a boost for the party, the reality is that Umno has yet to undergo any meaningful reform.

“Our setbacks in GE14, GE15 and the recent six state elections are stark reminders of how much support we’ve lost,” he told FMT.

“We all know what the public perception of Umno was in 2018 when we lost power. Can we say five years on that those perceptions have changed for the better?

“Recent election results tell us a lot about how the public views Umno. We have to be honest. Umno these days is not seen in a good light and Zahid’s DNAA does nothing to change that,” said Wan Agyl.

Zahid, the deputy prime minister, had been accused of embezzling millions of ringgit from his foundation, Yayasan Akalbudi, and accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as the home minister between 2013 and 2018.

The application for the DNAA was made by the prosecution despite the High Court ruling in January last year that there was a prima facie case against him.

That has seen the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) coming under a barrage of criticism from both sides of the political divide, activists, political commentators and members of the general public and renewed calls for reform of the legal system.

“But Umno cannot champion those reforms without first reforming itself. People are disillusioned, and support at the grassroots level is waning,” said Wan Agyl.

“We are growing weaker at an alarming rate but where is the accountability? Where is the soul searching? Grassroots leaders are raising important issues, but they are being ignored.”

Wan Agyl said if Umno continues in its current trajectory, the party may cease to be relevant and will soon only exist in the history books.

He said the party must address the core issues affecting its perception among the public.

“The narrative that people should vote for Umno because it secured independence or that it oversaw decades of prosperity is no longer relevant.

“We have to stop acting like everything is fine in the party. We are not in government because we won but because nobody won enough seats to form the government independently.”