Umno AGM 2023: DAP fears, Najib’s freedom, and party’s blind spots

Umno, Malaysia’s grand old party, recently concluded its annual general assembly, aiming to assure its grassroots members that it will rebuild following the last general election. The party remains in power but as a weaker ally of the Pakatan Harapan political bloc, sparking unease among grassroots members. Here are three key takeaways from the Umno AGM 2023:

1. DAP remains a significant concern
Throughout the assembly, party delegates mentioned the Democratic Action Party (DAP) more than the opposition bloc, Perikatan Nasional. While political observers anticipated this, the undertone of these messages may indicate genuine uneasiness within Umno’s base, potentially affecting the ruling coalition’s campaign in state elections.

2. Umno’s push for Najib’s freedom
Umno leaders made it clear that they would not back down from their push to free former prime minister Najib Razak, who is serving a 12-year jail sentence for embezzling funds. This suggests that Najib remains highly influential within the party, and his faction could mobilise the ground to pressure party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

3. Many Umno leaders remain unaware of the party’s issues
Despite Umno’s decline in popularity, many of its top leaders believe the party should still have a more dominant role in the current government. This inability to identify the root causes of the party’s decline may hinder much-needed reform.

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In conclusion, the Umno AGM 2023 highlighted the party’s ongoing concerns about its alliance with DAP, its push for Najib’s freedom, and the need for self-awareness and reform. The party must address these issues to ensure its stability and success in future elections.

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Lee Shuyi

Lee is an expat writer living in Thailand. She specialises in Southeast Asian news for the Thaiger. When she's not writing, Lee enjoys immersing herself in Thai culture and learning Thai.

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