Umno does not appear to have learned its lesson from the March general election and could face a more severe setback in the next polls, a political analyst has cautioned.
Karim Raslan said soon after the elections, Umno seemed to be focusing on its coming party polls, which had distracted it from addressing the real issue of how it and the Barisan Nasional should be dealing with the country at large.
“The focus on party polls resulted in members not looking enough into the broader interest of the community,” he said at the “Race Relations Forum: Impact of General Elections” segment during the Malaysian Student Leaders Summit yesterday.
Karim said before the general election, the people’s perception on Umno leaders as “rich elites” made them feel alienated from the party.
“It is no doubt making people very uncomfortable when at the same time there is an increase in fuel prices. People are worried, but so much money is circulating in certain parts of the country,” he said.
Karim said Umno would have to think about the rest of its Barisan component parties and learn to work much more closely with them. “Pakatan Rakyat is definitely doing a better job at the moment but it is giving pressure to Barisan to improve its game. If Pakatan Rakyat disappears, there will be no one to push Barisan to reform,” he said.
However, Pakatan Rakyat also needed to answer some questions to the people, such as how DAP and PAS were going to deal with the issue of religion, Karim added.
Suhakam economic, social and cultural rights working group chairman Datuk Denison Jayasooria said the non-Muslim world was looking at PAS and comparing religious freedom under Umno.
“People say PAS does not demolish temples and ‘snatch bodies’,” he said, adding that if non-Muslims found that PAS practiced fairness and justice because its leaders were God-fearing, there could be a drastic change in the way they vote in the future.