KUALA LUMPUR: Former Umno advisory council chairman Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has warned Barisan Nasional against being overconfident about its landslide win at the Melaka state polls, in pushing for a general election to be held soon.
The Umno veteran said the party must not be “deluded” as many Melakans did not cast their ballots at the state elections, in which a total of 326,068 votes were cast, or 65.8% of registered voters in the state.
Tengku Razaleigh, known by many as Ku Li, said these voters would rather “wait and see” for the next general election, which is anticipated to be held next year.
“I’m not suggesting that Melaka will have another (state) election to coincide with the general election for Parliament as well. But I’m suggesting that they think that this was a small election compared to the big one that’s going to move things after GE15.
“But it’s a clear warning to everybody, including in Umno: Don’t be overconfident,” he said in an interview with FMT. Tengku Razaleigh, the 11-term MP for Gua Musang, is Malaysia’s longest-serving MP.
“You may have strong support in parts of Melaka. But, similarly, in the whole of the federation you might have pockets of strong anti-BN, anti-Umno (sentiments) developing and that’s going to really shock and disappoint you when the time comes for GE15.”
BN won 21 of the 28 seats that were up for grabs at the Melaka polls, giving it a two-third majority in the state assembly.
The big win prompted BN deputy chairman and Umno deputy president Mohamad Hassan to urge Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to call for an early general election as the voters were seemingly siding with BN.
But Tengku Razaleigh said BN won by slim margins in some seats in Melaka with majorities of less than a thousand, warning that these voters might not remain with the coalition if it does not perform well.
He said BN cannot consider its landslide win in Melaka as a “vote of confidence” in the party by voters, pointing out that the coalition obtained less than 40% of the total votes at the polls.
“We are going to be sorely mistaken if we think that the two-third majority is a vote of confidence for the party. I think we have to work very hard and be very careful.”
He said Umno needed to go through a continuous process of reforming itself, adding that there was too much power vested in the Umno leadership.
This left them out-of-touch with the realities of the grassroots as the leaders became more elitist, he said, which would erode Umno’s support.
“For instance, a resolution (at the annual general meeting) said you’ll break your relationship or whatever kind of cooperation you have with Bersatu. After that is over, you have a Cabinet full of these people.
“How can you do that? Do you think the people on the ground don’t understand all these moves? You can’t cheat them, you know. Don’t insult their intelligence.”