TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad has called on Umno delegates to be critical and speak their minds at its assembly which begins tomorrow if the party is to survive and move forward.
He said Umno members must be brave in openly criticising their leaders, including their presidents, said Dr Mahathir, who was, at one time, the partyâ€™s longest serving president.
â€œEveryone knows that Umno now is not as popular as before. There are those who say Umno is not relevant.
â€œIf Umno is defeated and wiped off the face of the earth, its leaders and members cannot deny that they had contributed to the downfall of the party that has done a lot for Malays and Malaysia,â€ said Dr Mahathir in a posting in his blog chedet.cc.
His message to Umno leaders and members comes a day before the countryâ€™s largest party is scheduled to hold its 68th assembly in Kuala Lumpur beginning November 26.
Dr Mahathir staunchly criticised Umno members in the past, and had gone on record to withdraw his support for president Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who is also the countryâ€™s prime minister.
He said he did this after his recommendations to Najib fell on deaf ears.
Dr Mahathirâ€™s most recent criticism was aimed at Najibâ€™s policy of giving out cash transfers such as the People Aid Scheme and his management of debt-ridden sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
In calling for Umno members to be critical, Dr Mahathir said he himself had been openly criticised and even came close to losing the presidency.
The same, he said, happened to Umnoâ€™s first president Tunku Abdul Rahman, and his successors, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Hussein Onn.
â€œWithout criticism, leaders will believe everything they do is correct. But in reality, it may be wrong.â€
Dr Mahathir also touched on his fallout with Najib, although he did not explicitly mention Najibâ€™s name.
â€œI was advised to not criticise openly. In reality, I had given my criticisms repeatedly behind closed doors, especially on Bumiputera and Umno problems.
â€œBut it did not work. So I am forced to criticise openly.â€
Dr Mahathir also said the “warlord culture” among Umno branch and division leaders corrupted the party to the point where bright and talented members got sidelined.
This has led to the partyâ€™s grassroots’s structure being dominated by mediocre leaders, he said.
â€œUmno only accepts new members who do not threaten the position of their leaders at all levels. Branches do not accept those who can challenge the position of branch leaders.
â€œThis is because there are rewards for being branch leaders.
â€œThese branch leaders are then only replaced by weaker and mediocre successors as they are the only type of people the leadership accepts.
â€œThat is why when the question crops up, â€˜Who will be Selangor menteri besar if Barisan Nasional wins?’, there is no answer… even though Selangor is full of educated and talented Malays who do not have to use Umno to enrich themselves.
â€œThese people are barred from entering Umno. Those who make it in are barred from climbing up as leaders.
â€œBecause of this disappointment, those who have talent are going into other parties. Umno will fade and this sacred party will fade away.â€ – The Malaysian Insider