Analysts: Zahid’s charges may end up being a liability to UMNO

Zahid’s comeback may not allow Umno to rise up again. His charges may end up being a liability to Umno. Source (pic): TTF Files

Umno needs to manage the return of Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as party president tactfully. 

There are also worries that his return could ruin whatever positive development the party has undergone since the 14th General Election (GE14) as well as lead to further split in the Barisan Nasional coalition member.

On June 30, Zahid announced his return from garden leave to take charge of Umno after a seven-month hiatus.

Zahid is currently facing 87 charges related to money launder.


KUALA LUMPUR: Umno needs to manage the return of Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as party president tactfully.

There are worries that the 87 court charges faced by the Bagan Datuk Member of Parliament may prevent him from fully providing the necessary latitude in rebuilding the 72-year old party.

There are also worries that his return could ruin whatever positive development the party has undergone since the 14th General Election (GE14) as well as lead to further split in the Barisan Nasional coalition member.


Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said Zahid should pass the baton as Umno needs a leader to project the right image.

“The party could divide further into factions if this issue is not handled properly.

“The Supreme Council should instead ask Zahid to consider officially passing the baton because acting president doesn’t have full authority or power to act. For the sake of the party (regardless he’s guilty or not), Umno needs a leader who can project the right image for the party for now,” Sivamurugan told the New Straits Times.

He said though Zahid’s return to lead the party was welcomed by his supporters, those outside the party and fence-sitters might have a different view.

“Umno should think of what is the best for the party and not what is the best for personalities involved.”

Sivamurugan said that party deputy president Mohamad Hassan, better known as Tok Mat, had proven himself in leading the party.

This could be seen from the way he handled the last three by-elections, which also includes defending his own Rantau state constituency by carrying it with a bigger majority.

He said that Tok Mat has the “aura” and the ability to “mediate” the party’s trust and confidence and manage crisis or conflicts.

Sivamurugan said Umno now needs a leader who would be able to show the way forward for the party in a “clean” manner, someone upholding integrity.

“He (Zahid) will have to face charges and might spend more time handling his cases. Therefore, he should consider passing the leadership baton in a smooth manner to avoid further internal crisis which Umno cannot face at this point of time, unless the Supreme Council feels that he’s their choice.

“Morale issue is also important for voters and this may cost votes if his cases prolong until next general election.

“Moral legitimacy is at stake and the party leaders must decide what is best for the party to remain relevant,” said Sivamurugan.

Universiti Malaya sociopolitical analyst Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said Zahid should have in place a strategy to ensure his comeback would not lead to losses to Umno.

He said Zahid’s seven month break as the party’s president should have given him adequate time to prove that he was still relevant in leading Umno.

“He should focus on handling the party’s grassroots and also in re-branding Umno as a progressive, changed party, which would eventually be the people’s choice.

“He needs to prove that he is a president who has changed for better,” he said.

However, Azman believes that party members were of the view that Zahid should take a break to focus on the 87 charges he currently faces.

“They (Umno members) are worried that Zahid’s comeback may not allow Umno to rise up again and that his charges may end up being a liability to Umno,” he said.

Azman said though Tok Mat has the credibility to restore the Malay votes back to Umno, the only downside was that the former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar (Tok Mat) was not a parliament member.

“But if he is given the opportunity and more time to gain back the trust and confidence of the party members, Umno could rise again,” he said.

On June 30, Zahid announced his return from garden leave to take charge of Umno after a seven-month hiatus.

Zahid is currently facing 87 charges related to money launder

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