Umno’s election overhaul bodes well, says analyst

PETALING JAYA: The bold move by Umno and Barisan Nasional to retain only four old faces in the Melaka elections in favour of new candidates bodes well for them, says a political scientist.

“It’s a good move on their part. Let’s face it, their image has been tainted with corruption and scandals,” said Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, a professor of political science at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

“The courage to dispense with the majority of incumbents gives the impression that the party is not resistant to change, contrary to the overly conservative image of Umno as portrayed by its detractors,” he told FMT.

BN unveiled its list of candidates for the Nov 20 elections with some 86% of its candidates being new faces.

Fauzi said the injection of new faces may encourage voters to come out and vote in the hope of electing a new set of leaders who can bring fresh ideas.

BN deputy chairman Mohamad Hasan with former Melaka chief minister Sulaiman Md Ali. Mohamad had announced earlier that 86% of the coalition’s candidates for the Melaka polls would be fresh faces.

He added that if BN’s Melaka experiment proved to be a success, it would be encouraged to repeat it at the national level at the next general election.

Fauzi however said BN must be mindful of the reputation of some who were speculated to helm the state government should it win the election.

Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs believed the decision to field new faces was intended to manage the factionalism in Melaka, which resulted in some former leaders leading the charge to topple the previous Umno-led administration.

“By having mostly new candidates, Umno appears to want to clean up the state party machinery and to present a refreshing electoral outlook to voters tired of the same old faces.”

Socio-political analyst Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya said BN’s strategy was laudable and would help in the coalition’s efforts to rebrand.

“The new faces will give voters hope and the impression that BN is ready to change to move forward.”

However, the candidacy of former PKR assemblyman Muhammad Jailani Khamis would be seen as inconsistent with the strategy of fielding mostly new candidates, he said.


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