Friday, September 20, 2013

UMNO Youth is struggling

Umno Youth is struggling

Wednesday, 18 September 2013 10:00 Habhajan Singh
The Malaysia Reserve
 Umno Youth’s perceived dismal bite in the last general election and the wider space provided by the new rules for contest has led one Umno youth leader to mount a challenge to its incumbent. Akhramsyah MU Sanusi, son of a former Umno leader and minister, feels that the Umno’s youth wing is “struggling for relevance”. “I had expected Umno Youth to be an even bigger player in the 13th General Election (GE13). While we saw a lot of activities, Umno Youth should have been active at a higher level. “I was hoping the party agenda being more strongly influenced by Pemuda (Umno Youth) as a driving force,” he said in an interview with The Malaysian Reserve. During the interview, he confirmed earlier reports that he would take on incumbent Khairy Jamaluddin, who was appointed as Youth and Sports Minister following the GE13, also referred to by its Malay acronym of PRU13. Akhramsyah, 39, who read an engineering-based master, is currently a manager at multinational company Shell Malaysia, where he oversees the operations of some 900 petrol stations nationwide. Son of former long serving Minister Tan Sri Sanusi Junid, he is also a member of the economic bureau of Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa), a right wing Malay pressure group founded and helmed by Datuk Ibrahim Ali, which has received strong backing from former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Akhramsyah said he will be at the Umno headquarters on Saturday to fill up the form to contest. Nominations for Umno’s Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings will be on Sept 21, while nominations for Umno supreme council is on Sept 28. On what to expect, he said the 2013 Umno contest will be starkly different from the past as the number of delegates have increased, with him estimating that some 100,000 will be involved to cast their votes for the youth wing. “The reality is that no one knows how to win this election,” he said, noting that it would take a few elections before people truly understand the dynamics at work. Prior to the amendment in 2009 to the Umno constitution, some 2,500 delegates had voting rights. Under the new method, some 150,000 members will cast their vote for the party’s top leadership on Oct 19. “This is a fantastic opportunity to have a national conversation what Pemuda Umno should be. The Malay community has an opportunity to shape what they think Pemuda should be,” he said on the wider participation of Umno grassroot members. On his involvement with Perkasa, Akhramsyah said it should be seen as an excellent partner of Umno. “Perkasa is fighting for Malay rights in the context of the constitution. It exists because there is a vacuum. It used to be filled by the Pemuda Umno. That vacuum is the vacuum that champions the betterment of the Malays,” he said. In the 2009 Umno elections, Khairy, the son-in-law of then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, won in a tightly fought three-cornered contest against then Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo and Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir. In that same polls, Akhramsyah had contested unsuccessfully for an Umno Youth executive committee post, backing Mukhriz. “He (Mukhriz) was bringing about this voice of change. Among the delegates then, I sensed this desire to chose people who are not the ‘Yes, boss’ type,” he said.

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