KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Najib Razak thinks having the Umno elections early may divide and weaken the party further, as those who lose may be enticed away by rival parties.
The idea for early party elections was pushed for by science, technology and innovation minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who said today that the elections which are set to be held this year should be expedited so the party’s internal conflicts can be settled before the next general election.
Speaking to reporters after delivering his keynote speech at the Malaysia Democracy Forum, the Pekan MP said to hold early party elections risks causing a rift between factions, as there would invariably be winners and losers.
“If there is another party that wants to weaken Umno, they will wait for the election and invite or persuade those who lost to join them.”
In addition, he said it would be difficult to create a level playing field, as Umno members with ministerial roles would be able to use government machinery to enhance their bids, which would be unfair to those without cabinet roles.
He said that given the risks, it is a decision that must be studied carefully by those in charge.
Najib cautions over ailments plaguing Malaysia
In his closing address earlier, Najib listed ailments plaguing the country, pointing out that structural reforms need to be made on party-hopping, political funding and voter registration.
He said normalising party-hopping as a means to an end was akin to telling the people that “it is okay to switch loyalty as long as it serves our purpose.”
Najib said that to date, 40 MPs have changed their allegiance since GE14, with 2020 seeing a change of administration in four states due to party-hoppers.
He added that such instability caused Malaysia’s foreign direct investment to fall 68% to a meagre US$2.5 billion last year, while Indonesia attracted a whopping US$18 billion in FDIs.
“Malaysia is performing worse than our neighbouring countries,” he said.
He further cautioned that party-hopping and the declaration of Emergency has left the government with an unchecked ability to continue to borrow money without detailing how and where it was going to spend it.
He also spoke on Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz’s idea of adopting a party-list system where the seat stays with the party should the sitting MP decide to defect to another party.
On political donations, Najib said the reality is that political activities, like any other activity, involves cost.
“With cost comes the act of raising of funds. The question is: how does a political party do that, and do that at a scale large enough to cover the cost associated with running it?” he asked.
In 2014, he said he had mooted the idea of a Political Funding Act, adding that PH, after coming into power in 2018, did not carry out their promises of reform.
On the delay of the Undi18 policy, he said it goes to show that the current government doesn’t trust the younger generation to make decisions for themselves.
“Is the current administration denying them their liberty to exercise their rights to choose? If so, isn’t the administration effectively telling our younger generation that they have no say in determining their future?” he asked.